Time wasting: How we waste 12 hours of our week

Posted in: Wellbeing Last updated: 29 Jun 2012

Time is precious, yet lots of things eat in to it on a daily basis. Sometimes there are annoying obstacles in our way that we just can’t do anything about, and other times it’s entirely our own fault for having too much fun.

A study we conducted of 2,000 adults has revealed that the average Brit claims to waste one hour and 40 minutes of their precious time every day, and wishes they could spend it doing more useful things such as helping others and sorting out personal admin.

That’s the equivalent of almost 12 hours a week people could be reading a good book, volunteering or pursuing an interest, rather than sitting in traffic jams, waiting for a train or taking unwanted phone calls.

Self-inflicted time wasting activities

From Come Dine With Me to Candy Crush, the research has revealed that our addiction to entertainment is causing us to lose track of time.


Television is a major culprit for time wasting. People wish they spent less time sat with their eyes glued to soap operas, surfing through television channels and watching Come Dine With Me episodes on repeat.

Social media & mobile games

We all know that social media causes a big black hole in our time and the survey reveals just this – 21% of participants said they wasted time flicking through Facebook and 15% post pointless tweets on Twitter. Many of us also get carried away with compulsive mobile games like Candy Crush.

Uncontrollable time blockers

Whilst we’re too willing to give up voluntary time to watch our favourite soap operas and surf on social media sites, we’re not so happy about the unexpected time blockers that hinder our daily schedule.

Unwanted phone calls

Answering a nuisance telemarketing phone call in the middle of an evening meal winds lots of people up, so it comes as no surprise that automated telephone systems, PPI calls and waiting for someone to call back feature highly in the results.

“I get really frustrated when the telephone rings in the middle of Coronation Street and I rush up to get it, only to find out it’s an automated sales call!” Says Mrs O’Grady.


Waiting is a major bugbear for us busy Brits. We might be known as a nation that loves to queue, but the research reveals that queuing in supermarkets is one of our top frustrations, along with, waiting for nails to dry and downloading YouTube videos. Other time-eating activities include hanging around while the kettle boils or waiting for the washing machine to finish its load.

“The number one timewaster for me is self-service checkouts. Rather than making shopping quick and convenient, I find it can take much longer than someone serving you and I’m usually always faced with the ‘unexpected item in bag area’ palaver!” Says Mr Turner.


The study shows transport causes no end of frustration for people who would like to make better use of their time – with road works, de-icing the car, train timetables and delayed public transport services all making the list.


Essential household chores are an annoyance for many Brits – who find dusting pointless and cleaning the windows in the winter futile, as the dismal weather conditions quickly makes them dirty again.

What would we do if we had more time?

In an ideal world, we’d all love to spend our time a little more wisely. The study reveals that a quarter of the people surveyed would like to improve their own home, while a fifth of health-conscious Brits would like to do more exercise.

Pursuing hobbies and getting jobs done around the house would also be priorities for those blessed with a little more time, while others would like to spend more time with loved ones and visit friends they rarely see.

Indeed 44 per cent of those polled admitted they would like to be in a position where they could help out more in the local community or with their elderly neighbours.

Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Hub content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions. OneFamily do not provide advice so it may be worth speaking to an independent financial advisor about your own circumstances.