Scheduling Your Free Time Makes You Enjoy It Less

Woman writing on wall covered with adhesive notes. Photo: Antony Nagelmann (Getty)

Time to just go with the flow, guys.

A recent study indicates people who take the time to plan or schedule leisure activities and happy time enjoy it less than those who do it spontaneously. The research paper was authored by Associate Professor of Marketing at Ohio State University Selin A. Malkoc. Its findings will soon be published in the journal Current Opinion in Psychology.

Malkoc says too many of us are lumping things such as dentist appointments and coffee with friends together instead of separating something that sucks (like going to the dentist) from something that’s awesome (like spending time with your wife’s hot friends while she’s at work). Instead, every moment of our free time seems like a chore because it’s something we’re scheduling.

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“It becomes a part of our to-do list,” Malkoc said. “As an outcome, they become less enjoyable. When scheduled, leisure tasks feel less free-flowing and more forced – which is what robs them of their utility. The focus on productivity is so widespread that people even strive to make leisure productive and brag about being busy.”

The way around becoming a miserable scheduler is quite simple. According to Malkoc, be open to “rough scheduling,” where you meet for lunch or drinks without attaching a firm time to it. That, and feel free to smoke a crap ton of pot. That’s been doing the trick for me lately.