Attention: planners and organizers! Put your calendars down for a minute and listen up.
A new study conducted by Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis, finds that when it comes to leisure time, it’s best to loosen up on the structure.
Gabriela Tonietto, a doctoral candidate in marketing, and Selin Malkoc, associate professor of marketing at Olin Business School, conducted 13 studies examining how scheduling leisure activities affects the way these events are experienced. 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. (Washington University)
Researchers found that scheduling leisure pollutes what was intended to be a fun activity with work-like feelings.
It is important, however, to hang on to your calendars. Research also supports the idea that being organized helps us maximize productivity. Additionally, it’s more likely that you’ll actually engage in non-work activities you enjoy if you make time for it in your schedule.
So, what’s the middle ground? How do we pencil in leisure time without sucking all the fun out of it before we even get there?
Tonietto and Malkoc say that rather than strict and specific scheduling, try rough scheduling.
While we may tend to think of scheduling in structured terms by referring to specific times — such as grabbing coffee at 3 p.m. — we can also schedule our time in a rougher manner by referring less specifically to time — grabbing coffee in the afternoon. … By reducing the structure of the plans, this rough scheduling does not lead leisure to feel more work-like and thus does not reduce enjoyment.
Ok, great! Sounds both reasonable and doable.
But when my kid asks me to play Pokemon right after breakfast, can I let him know I’ve put it in my schedule for roughly sometime after the first of never? It’s not that I don’t love it, it’s just that I can’t see the cards when my eyes roll back in my head.