What a wait of time – Brits may be known for queuing, but they hate doing it 

New research from Microsoft Surface has found the Brits spend over a fortnight a year waiting in queues: a week a year (7.2 days) waiting in a physical queue, and over nine days (9.4) queuing online waiting for tickets.

And Brits definitely don’t believe that good things come to those who wait, with three-quarters (72%) believing queuing to be a waste of time, and nearly half (44%) believing the same of waiting in an online queue.

In terms of who queues the longest, people in Belfast and Birmingham say they queue longer than anyone else, at nine days a year, closely followed by London and Glasgow. Yet, it’s those in Newcastle who consider it the biggest waste of time.


Waiting in a queue (average days per year) Activities seen as a waste of time – Waiting in a queue
  1. Belfast – 9
  2. Birmingham – 9
  3. London – 8.5
  4. Glasgow – 8.5
  5. Norwich – 8
  1. Newcastle (78%)
  2. Bristol (76%)
  3. Edinburgh (75%)
  4. Southampton (75%)
  5. Leeds (74%)


But it’s not what we hate the most, the new study shows that the biggest bugbear for Brits is waiting for late people, three-quarters (72%) think it is a waste of time and around two-thirds (64%) really dislike doing it. Yet every year, across the country, we also spend more than a week waiting for people to turn up (7.5 days) on average, which equates to more than 643 days (21 months) across a typical lifetime in the UK2!

Unlike people from Birmingham who are most likely to be happy to wait for others (22% net enjoy) and yet guiltiest when it comes to making others wait for them, those from Glasgow (79%) struggle most with people’s tardiness and say it’s a waste of their time.


Waiting for late people (average days per year) Activities seen as a waste of time – waiting for late people
  1. Birmingham – 10
  2. Belfast – 9.5
  3. London – 9
  4. Glasgow – 8.5
  5. Cardiff – 8
  1. Glasgow (79%)
  2. Edinburgh (79%)
  3. Bristol (78%)
  4. Manchester (76%)
  5. Belfast (76%)


Alongside queuing and waiting for late people, looking for parking spaces and ironing were considered among the biggest wastes of time, and least enjoyable activities; however, Brits would rather wait in an online ticket queue than do the washing up.


Least enjoyable activities Activities seen as a waste of time (net)
  1. Waiting for late people (64% net dislike)
  2. Waiting in a queue (63% net dislike)
  3. Looking for a parking space (53% dislike)
  4. Ironing (43% net dislike)
  5. Washing up (42% net dislike)
  1. Waiting for late people (72%)
  2. Waiting in a queue (72%)
  3. Looking for a parking space (62%)
  4. Ironing (54%)
  5. Trying to get tickets online for an event (44%)


By comparison, the things we value and enjoy spending our time doing most, are mostly similar. Quality time with your partner, friends and family, sleeping and listening to music both make the top five. And while we love watching TV / films (79%), we don’t value it as much as cooking for ourselves or others.

Most enjoyable activities (net enjoy) Activities seen as valuable (net)
  1. Having alone time with my partner (87%) 3
  2. Spending time with family or friends (85%)
  3. Watching TV/ films (79%)
  4. Listening to music (78%)
  5. Sleeping (76%)
  1. Having alone time with my partner (91%)2
  2. Spending time with family or friends (88%)
  3. Sleeping (85%)
  4. Cooking for myself / family (77%)
  5. Listening to music (76%)


While this shows how important our time is, we are still spending too much of it on things we don’t value or enjoy. The reality is that Brits spend 67 hours a week doing things they consider valuable versus 24 hours doing things they consider a waste of time, and don’t enjoy. 

Which the data shows is more important given the cost-of-living crisis in the UK and the phrase ‘time equals money’ couldn’t ring truer, with the one thing Brits care about most about and won’t sacrifice is the time spent with their friends and family. In fact, almost two thirds of adults in the UK (62%) are most looking forward to this activity, and when it comes to budgeting for this, half of us won’t sacrifice spending money on it (49%).

But we will be making changes to accommodate, with eight-in-ten Brits (81%) looking to limit their spending in some way over the next 12 months, from postponing spending on new clothes (57%), holidays (52%) and entertainment e.g., festivals (48%); even important home improvements (44%), new cars (34%) and new houses (25%) are being pushed back.


So how do we make sure other time sucks don’t impinge on our quality time with those we love?


Ways technology can help make every moment matter


Whether we are looking to carve out more time with loved ones or make more laborious tasks pass quicker, technology can enable us to live our lives more efficiently and support us in freeing up time spent away from our screens to make the most of moments that really matter. Over three-quarters of British adults1 own a laptop, so Microsoft Surface is working with Pandora Sykes, journalist, author and broadcaster to give Brits practical advice on how they can use technology to juggle their commitments and make the best use of their time.


“It’s the modern conundrum, feeling like we never have enough time! But if the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that spending our time intentionally on what feels meaningful to you, is the most valuable asset of all. That means something different to each of us: cooking, rambling, even just watching telly, if it’s something you want to carve out time for. It’s all about planning ahead and feeling restored in what you choose to do. I’m always striving to find a healthy balance for how much time I spend on technology – it can make me feel jumpy and frazzled – but there are actually plenty of ways in which technology can aid us offline. Not so that you can be uber productive (another modern preoccupation!) but so that you can enjoy the time you do have, to the max, with the people you love the most.” – Pandora Sykes


For more on the research and Pandora’s advice, go to: https://news.microsoft.com/en-gb/2023/01/19/pandora-sykes-tech-productivity/ 

For more on Microsoft Surface, go to www.microsoft.com/surface


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