This book is academic in style and can be dry at times; there isn’t much in the way of a narrative to help the data slip down. It’s also focused mostly on time patterns in the UK, and the few international comparisons offered only take in other wealthy countries. But its insight into what we do is illuminating. It’s impossible not to see your life − and those of your parents and children − reflected in the data or to ponder how far your own days differ from the average. And that makes reading it an excellent use of time.
It would be handy to have a reliable source of evidence about what people actually spend their time doing, and how they feel about it. That is precisely what the Centre for Time Use Research at University College London has supplied. In 2014-15, a randomly selected group of 8,000 people were asked to fill in time-use diaries, recording what they did as they went along at 10-minute intervals over a full day. Researchers collected 16,000 such “diary days”, and this book is a fascinating analysis of the results.