Time is a precious resource. As individuals advance their careers and build their lives, both professional and personal obligations increasingly occupy people’s time. Indeed, people’s daily time use and the consequences of how people choose to spend their time can offer scientists, marketers and policy makers important information about people’s behaviour and insights into people’s thoughts, feelings and actions.
But how can we (practically) assess how people use their time? One potential source of data could come from technology. For instance, the “Internet of Things” has seen tremendous growth in recent years as people increasingly adopt more and more connected devices. As such, considerable amounts of data are becoming available that can provide a look into people’s behaviour at an unprecedented scope.
One clear example would be data derived from wearable devices such as Fitbit and the Apple Watch. Such data can give researchers detailed information about people’s day-to-day activity – and can serve as rich sources of information about how time is spent. Indeed, as such devices continue to be adopted by more and more people, these data, in conjunction with other demographics and other characteristics of a person’s life, could be used to better understand behaviour and the factors that predict it.
Another way to assess how people spend their time is to simply ask them. The relative ease of collecting such powerful data gives researchers greater bandwidth in evaluating the large number of ways people use their time and allow for data to be collected in large scale, nationally representative surveys (such as the General Social Survey in Canada). Such data is widely available and can give considerable insights into people’s complex attitudes and behaviours across a wide set of life domains.
We recently dove into such a dataset derived from a large, nationally representative sample of Canadians reporting on their daily time use and many other important characteristics of their lives. Our analyses revealed a number interesting insights into people’s behaviour, and offer novel ways to think about important and complex societal issues related to mental health, gender, division of labor and work-life balance. We at Insighta are excited to share these insights with the community, and have created a blog series organized around the general themes of Worklife, Homelife, and Gender.
Over the next few weeks this blog series will highlight some of our most interesting findings in this latest set of analyses and the practical implications of these findings on our understanding of people’s everyday lives.