Time use research
Time use research is a developing interdisciplinary field of study dedicated to knowing how people allocate their time during an average day. Work Intensity is the umbrella topic that incorporates Time Use, specifically time poverty.
The comprehensive approach to time use research addresses a wide array of political, economic, social, and cultural issues through the use of time use surveys. Surveys provide geographic data and time diaries that volunteers record using GPS technology and time diaries. Time use research investigates human activity inside and outside the paid economy. It also looks at how these activities change over time.
Time use research is not to be confused with time management. Time use research is a social science interested in human behavioural patterns and seeks to build a body of knowledge to benefit a wide array of disciplines interested in how people use their time. Time management is an approach to time allocation with a specific managerial purpose aimed at increasing the efficiency or effectiveness of a given process.
Questions relating to time use research arise in most professional and academic disciplines, notably:
- urban planning and urban design (how does community design impact peoples’ use of time?)
- transportation planning (what groups use active transportation and public transit?)
- social work (how do people maintain social relationships and who is more likely to spend time alone?)
- recreation and active living (which groups are more physically active?)
- information technology (what role does information technology play in peoples’ daily lives?)
- feminist economics (how does non-market work affect gender inequality and economic well-beings in our society?)
Categories of time 
Time-use researcher Dagfinn Aas classifies time into four meaningful categories: contracted time, committed time, necessary time, and free time.
Contracted time 
Contracted time refers to the time a person allocates toward an agreement to work or study. When a person is using contracted time to commute this person understands that this travel time is directly related to paid work or study and any break in this commute time directly affects job or school-related performance.
Committed time 
Committed time, like contracted time, takes priority over necessary and free time because it is viewed as productive work. It refers to the time allocated to maintain a home and family. When a person is commuting using committed time this person may feel that the commute is a duty to family such as walking children to school or driving a spouse to work. Contracted and committed time users may feel that their commute is more important than the commute of necessary or free time users because their commute is productive work. Therefore, they may be more inclined to choose a motorized mode of travel.
Necessary time 
Necessary time refers to the time required to maintain one’s self as it applies to activities such as eating, sleeping, and cleansing and to a large extent exercising. People who commute using necessary time may feel that the commute is an important activity for personal well-being and may also take into account the well-being of the natural and social environment. The person commuting in necessary time may be more inclined to choose an active mode of transportation for personal reasons that include exercise on top of transportation.
In general, necessary time usually constitutes the majority of people’s time since sleeping is factored into this category.
Free time 
Free time refers to the remains of the day after the three other types of time have been subtracted from the 24 hour day. This type of time is not necessarily discretionary time as the term “free” time may imply because people tend to plan activities in advance and creating committed free time in lieu of discretionary time. People who commute using free time are more apt to view the commute as a recreational activity. Commuting in free time provides the greatest gains for social capital because the person commuting in free time is more likely to slow down or stop the commute at his discretion to undertake another activity or engage in social interaction. He may also view the commute as part of his destination activity to which he has gladly committed his free time.
- Review of Economics of the Household
- Demography — Scope and links to issue contents & abstracts.
- Journal of Population Economics — Aims and scope and 20th Anniversary statement, 2006.