We live in an over-programmed, over-scheduled world full of commitments. Between working in the office during the day, out of the office work obligations (which as a blogger, there are MANY), workouts to be had, groceries to be bought, dry cleaning to be picked up, regular errands to run, family to see, and friends to catch up with, I often find myself without enough time for myself. And beyond that, I’m finding that most of my schedule, including things I should be excited about, often feel like “obligations.”
And I’m not the only one. A recent study by the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis found that scheduling leisure time with friends—for movies, drinks, bike rides— can make these otherwise enjoyable activities feel like chores, which is often why we cancel them. The research showed that assigning a specific date and time for leisure can have the opposite intended effect, making it feel much like a chore. Additionally, the researchers found that both the anticipation of the leisure activity and enjoyment from it decreased once it was scheduled.
I’ve been feeling very overwhelmed by my over-programmed schedule for the last few years, and after reading the Olin study, it got me thinking: “What if I made fewer plans, leaving more free time, which would allow for spontaneous plans?” Spontaneous plans would give me the chance to actually do what I feel like doing in that moment. How enjoyable does that sound?
Achieving a zen schedule may be tough, so I’m starting by limiting scheduled events from 4x/week (morning, noon or night) down to 3, then maybe 2?! I’m not sure if I’ll be able to stick to it, but I sure love the idea of owning my time in a new way.