Time use diaries and the Covid-19 crisis

Prompted by the recent Covid-19 crisis and a corresponding upsurge in interest in time use diary design and data, the CTUR team have been working on a range of projects relevant for researching patterns of time use during the current social restrictions and understanding cross-national patterns of social distancing behaviour related to risk of infection:

1. An online time-use diary survey (recently completed) in the UK using the same instrument and market research panel as a 2016 time-use survey baseline

2. An analysis of the above existing time use data (2016) on social contact and location information across 8 countries, indicating the main ‘risk’ exposure times by gender across countries prior to the pandemic.

3. A comparative analysis of UK 2016 and May/June 2020 time use data focussing on social contact, location and activity prior to the pandemic and during lockdown.

4. An overview of alternative time-use diary designs, focussing on the online click-and-drag diary instrument used in the data collection referred to in (1) above (for which we are also currently designing a webapp).  The resulting article is due for publication shortly in the Journal of Time Use Research.

An article arising from projects (2) and (3) is in the process of publication and (4) may be accessed below as a CTUR Special Working Paper. A demonstration video for the click-and-drag diary instrument (CaDDI) is also provided (mp4 file).

(1) Time use diary design for our times - an overview, presenting a ‘click-and-drag’ diary instrument for online application.

The recent global pandemic, involving restrictions on movement, social distancing and the displacement of many work activities to the home, has created an upsurge of interest in changes in the distribution and sequencing of our daily activities.  Time use diary data is recognised as the leading source of evidence on this topic. The purpose of this paper is to provide a timely overview of the current state-of-the-art in respect of the design of time use surveys for rapid, online or smartapp deployment.  It has three parts: firstly, for those who are looking for an overview of the various diary designs in use, we briefly summarise the main methods currently deployed to collect time use data. Secondly, for those interested in learning more about the development of time use diary data collection, we present an overview of the history of the development of the various kinds of diary designs and purposes, from their origin in the late 1800s. Finally, we present a detailed example of a specific kind of diary design, the ‘Click-and-drag diary’ instrument, that may be of particular interest in respect of the sudden demand for new data on time use as it is both user-friendly to complete and capable of timely adaptation and online deployment.

Download here: Time use diary design for our times - an overview, presenting a ‘Click-and-drag’ diary instrument for online application

Below: CaDDI demonstration video:  



Download here: CaDDI demonstration video (mp4 file)