Brits Spend 6.7 years of Their Lives Just Waiting Around

Brits spend an astonishing 6.7 years of their lives just waiting around*, equivalent to 11 per cent of the average adult life expectancy, according to new research released today.

Researchers polled the nation and discovered that waiting for food to cook topped the list of things we wait for (17 months of our life) followed by children (13 months) and partners (6.5 months).

The research, by Privilege Insurance, also found that other time-wasting-waits include slow technology (5.5 months), queuing (4.5 months) and a staggering four months, or 1,873 waking hours of life, spent simply waiting for the kettle to boil.

It seems that the waiting game has got worse over time with one in eight (12 per cent) claiming waiting times have doubled over the last 10 years. But while the things we wait for have probably stayed the same over the years, the way we spend our time whiling away the minutes has changed.

In the past, we’d read (26 per cent) or play games on our phones (13 per cent), but today, if we’re not silently cursing (16 per cent), it’s the smart phone that accompanies our waiting, with 13 per cent using it for online shopping and one third of people (31 per cent) scrolling through their social media.

However, when asked how we would instead like to be spending that time, three in 10 (29 per cent) said they would spend it with the family, one in five (22 per cent) would utilise the time making some more money, and a quarter of Brits (26 per cent) would spend their time enjoying a hobby.

Interestingly, 22 per cent of Brits are clearly in need of some down time, as they would prefer to be sleeping instead of waiting, rising to a third of sleep-deprived millennials (34 per cent). It seems we don’t believe the proverb that “good things come to those who wait”, with a huge seven in ten (71 per cent) believing that waiting around is just a waste of their time.

However, a third of Brits (31 per cent) do admit to enjoying waiting for things to happen, and half (51 per cent) of parents of children aged 0-3 would also agree that waiting is the only peace and quiet they get.

It’s been revealed that the people we wait for the most are our children, who keep us hanging on for over a year of our life. We spend three months of our life waiting for them to fall asleep, 2.4 months watching them take part in social activities with friends and family and 2.2 months waiting for them to simply drag themselves out of bed in the morning.

Women are the most patient of the sexes, only getting annoyed at waiting times an average of 2.9 times per day, compared to 3.6 times per day for men.

It’s millennials though, that are the most impatient of the age groups, expecting instant gratification, and getting irritable with waiting an average of 5.1 times per day, 1.5 times the national average (3.3 times), and four times more than the over 55s (1.3 times).

From a regional perspective, London is the waiting capital of the UK, with Londoners spending 8.4 years, or 13 per cent*, of their lives just waiting around.  The regional top five is completed by Plymouth (8.1 years), Sheffield (8.1 years), Norwich (7.9 years) and Manchester (7.8 years).

Christian Mendes, Head of Privilege Home Insurance said: “Waiting is a huge part of our day to day home life, so as a British home insurance brand, we thought it was our duty to find out how long we spend doing it, and what we’d prefer to do with that time should we use it in another way.

“Although cursing and social media are currently high on the list of ‘waiting activities’, the research also showed that we’re moving towards a world where we’ll use that time more productively, connecting with our families comes out high on the list whilst others include taking up hobbies or earning some extra money.”

What We Wait For (time spent in our lives)

1.     Food to cook (16.9 months)

2.     Children (12.7 months)

3.     Partners (6.5 months)

4.     Slow technology (5.5 months)

5.     Waiting on hold (4.5 months)

6.     Queues (4.5 months)

7.     Friends (4.4 months)

8.     Adverts on tv (4.2 months)

9.     Kettle to boil (3.9 months)

10.  Traffic lights to turn green (3.7 months)

11.  Other people to finish eating (3.6 months)

12.  Buses/trains/parking spaces (3.4 months)

13.  To use the toilet/bathroom/shower (3 months)

14.  The phone to ring (2.4 months)

15.  Shower/tap to go from hot to cold (2.3 months)

What we do while we wait

1.     Daydream

2.     Scroll through social media

3.     Read the news

4.     Reply to messages

5.     Complain/curse about waiting

6.     Listen to a podcast

7.     Read work emails

8.     Shop online

9.     Call someone

10.  Research holidays

11.  Power nap

12.  Skincare routine


For more information, please contact: Georgie Bruer at Richmond & Towers: 

[email protected] / 020 3179 0720


Notes to editors:

Research carried out amongst a nationally representative sample of 2001 UK adults by Opinium Research between 31st May and 3rd June 2019.

*all calculations are made based on a waking day of 16 hours, referring to adult life (63 years between the ages of 18 and 81).

* Life expectancy based on World Bank figures as per 2016


Privilege Insurance specialises in home insurance for homeowners and landlords. It also offers car insurance and breakdown cover by phone or on-line.

Privilege general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Privilege and UK Insurance Limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.  

Customers can find out more about Privilege’s products or get a quote by calling

0345 246 0515 or visiting