Diary Study on Waiting Experiences

Team Members:

Saba, Nadia, Somayeh, Khyati, Ezgi, Liz

Overview of project

People have to wait for various reasons through the day and they’d like to do different activities (or sometimes nothing!) during their waiting time(s). Knowing that will help us providing a number of things to do while waiting, which not only helps passing the time we have on our hands, but also can lead to opportunities of being even productive.

Scenario and Research Question

"Organization Y" creates educational media for children. They’ve recently decided to expand their user-base by creating short educational media for young adults. Our group of 5 has been hired by the company to help them understand people’s current behavior, emotions, and experiences of waiting (e.g., waiting for a bus, waiting for food, waiting for a friend, etc.). The findings from this research will help them identify ways to improve people’s waiting experiences and will help informing both the type of media they create as well as how it’s consumed (e.g., interactive, games, video, articles, etc.)

Research Question

What makes people wait throughout the day and what do they do during that waiting time?

Overview of the Process

The length of my study was 3 days starting on morning of Sunday December 9 until Midnight of Tuesday December 12. We chose this study to be done digitally using Google Forms. Possible devices participants could use were (but not limited to) Smartphone, Tablet, Laptop and Desktop Computer.

Image of Google form Questionnaire

Diary Study Prompt & Questions

Please submit an entry every time you are waiting during the day. We are looking for a submission of a total of 3-5 entries a day. You may include an optional photo of your surroundings or activity.

You can click here to see the prompt questions.

Themes Identified

After gathering all data, we studied them and tried to find their relations. We then made an affinity diagram (picture below) to help us see the emerging themes.Here are the themes we came up with as a group:

Image of an Affinity Diagram

With 50 responses received, here are the themes we came up with as a group:

1. Digital Life

A lot of people preferred to use their digital devices to make use of their waiting time. Activities such as Texting and Surfing the Web were very popular with our study group. Smart Phone and Laptop Computers were most popular.

2. Passive and Active Waiting

We noticed that a number of actions people do while waiting are passive, meaning they can perform other activities at the same time. Listening to radio or music are two examples of “Passive Activities”.  On the other hand there were activities that needed the person’s full attention. While doing these tasks, one can hardly do another activity. Examples like “Doing homework” or “Reading a book” are to name a few.

3. Emotions and Feelings

Among the “Emotions” group, there seems to be more of the negative type of feelings such as being “Unsure”, “Nervous” or bored rather than positive feelings like”Satisfied” or “Excited”.

4. Location… Location… Location

Waiting can happen anywhere at anytime. It comes in different shapes and forms. It could be for something as common as your morning coffee or as complicated as waiting for your document from the embassy.

Image of responses to the questionnaire
Image of responses to the questionnaire


In a nutshell “Organization Y” needs to consider the facts above and invest in a solution that works on various digital devices and can be done on the side of a passive activity and bring the user out of their negative feelings.