Time Use Survey: What if I was doing more than one activity at the same time?

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Time Use Survey: What if I was doing more than one activity at the same time? - Video transcript

(The Statistics Canada logo, the Canada watermark and the title : "Time Use Survey: What if I was doing more than one activity at the same time?" are on screen)

(A page from the Time Use Survey is on screen. A highlighted box containing the words : "Were you doing anything else at the same time" is on screen)

After you record the main activity you were doing, you will be asked if you were doing anything else at the same time. This is an opportunity to report "multitasking", doing two things at once.


For example, Paul is cooking dinner. While he is cooking, he is also talking with his daughter about her day at school.

(A survey page is shown. Under the title "Were you doing anything else at the same time?" the option "Parenting" is selected)

These activities can be reported within the same episode because Paul does not need to stop doing one in order to do the other.

(The text: "Not multitasking" is on screen)

Here is an example of something that is not considered multitasking.

(The survey is on screen. A box highlighting the text : "Activities done during this past Wednesday – Activity : Paid work -Starting at 8:00 AM, how long did this activity last?" with the hours(8) and minutes (30) selected)

Another survey page is onscreen with a box highlighting the text: "Were you doing anything else at the same time?"

Let's imagine that Paul reported "working at a paid job" as his main activity between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., and, when asked if he was doing anything at the same time, he indicated having gone for a run.

(A timeline with the times "8:00" and "4:30" are at the extremities. In the middle is the word: "Break")

In reality, these activities were not done at the same time because he took a break from 12:00 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. to go jogging, so jogging should be reported as a separate activity.

(The same survey screen is shown)

You will notice that in Paul's example, there was no lunch period or snack break. This situation is possible if Paul did not take a break to eat. Otherwise, he was grouping multiple activities together, which should be avoided. If, like Paul, you find yourself wanting to report doing more than two things at once, you may be trying to group activities together that should be reported separately.

Instead of choosing between reporting eating lunch while working or jogging while working, Paul should report four distinct activities: he worked from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., then went jogging for half an hour, ate lunch from 12:30 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. and then continued his work day from 1:00 p.m. until 4:30 p.m.

(A survey page us on screen with a box highlighting the multiple answers to the question: "Were you doing anything else at the same time?")

As a general guideline, if you are completing your survey and are not sure whether something should be reported on its own or as a simultaneous activity, it should be reported separately if it interrupted the main activity for more than five minutes or if your location changed.

If there is a situation where you were truly doing three things at the same time (for example, perhaps eating a meal, talking with a friend, and listening to music) you should identify the more important secondary activity and report that one.

(The Canada wordmark is on screen)