If the fun is often missing from your social activities or play feels like work, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have an explanation: You’re probably overplanning.
With so many demands on your time, precise scheduling might be the only way to accomplish everything you want. But while that can help at work and with family responsibilities, applying it to leisure time takes away spontaneity and, in turn, much of the enjoyment.
Researchers conducted 13 studies that examined how scheduling affects the way people experience a variety of leisure activities, like meeting for coffee and going to the movies. They found that assigning a specific date and time for an activity can undermine its fun factor and make it feel like a chore or even work. Scheduling lessened both the happy anticipation of an event and the fun when doing it.
But don’t completely delete your e-calendar. Leisure activities are important for personal well-being, so do make time for them. Just be more casual in your approach. Researchers suggest roughly scheduling them, meaning choose the date in advance, but be less firm about the details until the actual day.
You can apply this to any type of leisure activity. For instance, if you’re organizing a vacation, resist overscheduling every day in advance. Prep before you go with a “big picture” list of things you’d like to do, but allow for spontaneity in choices that don’t need advance reservations.
Learn more about the Washington University in St. Louis study to help you enjoy leisure time more.