Time use survey

We sleep and rest 9 hours per day

We sleep and rest 9 hours per day

Sleep and rest are the activities occupying the most of our lives. On average, we do this for just over 9 hours per day, or almost 38% of our time.

Work is central in many people’s lives, yet on average we only work just over 2 hours per day (paid work), less than 10% of our time.

It may feel different but the share of free time is almost double: we spend four hours per day, e.g. on sports, hobbies, TV and social media.

Of course, there are large differences between individuals and we spend our time very differently on a weekday than in the weekend.


Time use
Day of the week Weekdays Saturday Sunday
Duration per respondent (h/day) Duration per participant (h/day) Participation rate Duration per respondent (h/day) Duration per participant (h/day) Participation rate Duration per respondent (h/day) Duration per participant (h/day) Participation rate
Paid work 02:44 07:21 37.2 % 00:47 06:06 12.8 % 00:25 04:53 8.5 %
Household work 02:29 02:53 86.0 % 03:01 03:25 88.3 % 02:18 02:42 85.1 %
Childcare and raising children 00:22 01:32 23.6 % 00:20 01:47 18.8 % 00:21 01:45 19.6 %
Personal care 02:23 02:23 100.0 % 02:38 02:38 100.0 % 02:35 02:35 100.0 %
Sleep and rest 08:48 08:48 100.0 % 09:14 09:14 100.0 % 10:08 10:08 100.0 %
Education 00:50 06:02 13.6 % 00:18 03:46 7.8 % 00:18 03:25 8.6 %
Social participation 01:15 01:47 69.4 % 02:02 02:38 77.1 % 01:53 02:24 78.8 %
Free time 03:46 03:58 94.9 % 04:21 04:37 94.3 % 04:59 05:09 96.9 %
Transportation 01:18 01:29 87.4 % 01:15 01:28 84.4 % 00:59 01:20 74.5 %
Other 00:05 00:39 12.4 % 00:05 00:45 11.2 % 00:05 00:39 12.0 %

Time use survey (TUS)

Purpose and brief description

The time use survey tries to sketch an as precise picture as possible about the every-day activities of people. In a time use survey, the respondents are asked to fill in all their activities, including their precise time. Furthermore, additional information about the activities are also asked, such as with whom and where the respondent was.

Statbel carried out this survey in 1999, 2005 and 2013. The next survey will start in the autumn 2021.


Members of private households where at least one person is in the age group 15-76. Only individuals aged 10 or older are interviewed.

Sample frame

Demographic data from the National Register.

Data collection method

In the past, households were visited by an interviewer who gave them instructions about the survey. The members of the household were asked to record their activities in a diary during 2 specific days (one weekday and one weekend day).

In the survey starting in 2021, the data will be collected via a digital platform, composed of a web application and a smartphone application. The members of the household will register their activities for one week.

Sample size

In 1999, 8,382 respondents aged 12 or older from 4,275 households registered their time use for two days. In 2005, there were 6,400 respondents aged 12 or older from 3,474 households. Finally, there were 5,559 respondents aged 10 or older from 2,744 households in 2013.

Response rate

The response rate amounted to 22,1% (in 2013).


To date, this survey is organised every 8 years. From 2030 onwards, this survey will be part of the IESS and will be organised every 10 years for Eurostat.

Release calendar

The results are available at the latest 15 months after the end of the data collection period.


A household consists either of a single person, usually living alone, or of two or more persons who, whether or not related to one another by kinship, usually live in one and the same dwelling and live there together.

The most common way to present time use data is by using three parameters:

  • The duration per respondent (dpr.): this is the mean of the time spent on a given activity in a given period for all the people who took part in the research (respondents). 
  • The participation rate (part.): this is the percentage of respondents who did a given activity in a given time span.
  • The duration per participant (dpp.): this is the mean time that was spent on the activity in a given time span for all the respondents who participated in the activity. These three parameters are related and dependent on each other.

The given period is always a registration day (24h).
These three parameters are related and dependent on each other.
The duration per respondent is the product of the duration per participant and the participation rate (percentage expressed as a number between 0 and 1):

Duration per respondent = duration per participant x participation rate

This rule applies as long as we look at the parameters for all days apart (from Monday to Sunday) but does not work for a constructed mean for the week or weekend days because we only have information for one weekday and one weekend day per respondent. The parameters for the means of weekdays and weekends are thus estimates taking the number of respondents per day into account for respectively Monday to Friday for weekdays and Saturday and Sunday for weekends. Through the applied weighting procedure the difference in the relation between duration per respondent, duration per participant and participation rate is restricted to the minimum.

An example

An example could help to interpret the results: In a weekday the respondents spend on average 2h44' on the activity 'work' (=duration per respondent).

However not everyone in the population did perform paid work on the weekdays when they filled in their diary. 37.2% of the population registered work (=participation rate).

The mean working time of the respondents who were actually working on the registered days is 7h21' for the activity 'work' (=duration per participant).

Duration per respondent = duration per participant x participation rate

2H44’ = 7h21’ x 37.2%

HETUS guidelines

Eurostat provides guidelines to carry out the time use survey. They are available here.

Reports and articles

Technical report of the 2013 Belgian Time-Use Survey

SourceTM in opdracht van EUROSTAT