Aims: There is little information available about what people do to look after their health, or how long people spend on health activities. This study identifies key health related activities and time taken as part of self management by people with diabetes. Management planning often lacks information that this study provides that would help clinicians and patients to create manageable and do-able plans that patients can follow.Methods: Data were collected in 2010 using a national survey of people aged 50 years the National Diabetes Services Scheme. Respondents provided recall data on time used for personal health care, non-clinical health activity; and health service interactions. Data were analysed using Stata 12 and SPSS 19.Results: While most people with diabetes spend on average less than 30 minutes a day on health-related activities (excluding exercise), the highest decile of respondents averaged over 100 minutes. Time spent increased with the number of co-existent conditions. Taking medication and sitting in waiting rooms were the most frequently reported activities. The greatest amount of time was spent on daily personal health care activities.Conclusion: The time demands of diabetes for older people can be substantial. Better patient engagement in self management might result from a better match in care planning between the illness demands and the patient time availability, with potential to reduce admissions for hospital care.