Your free time was one of the first luxuries to get reduced once you chose to devote your life to a tiny human being (way to think it through, chief), so if it wasn’t for your meticulously-kept schedule you wouldn’t have any at all. But if those penciled-in games of poker and pickup basketball aren’t as much fun as they used to be, new research suggests the very fact that you scheduled them in the first place might be the problem.
A series of 13 separate studies at Washington University found that when people schedule things they enjoy, their enjoyment of the event overall decreased. The findings, which are forthcoming in the Journal Of Marketing Research, are based on 1,500 people participating in experiments in which half of them scheduled and half did not. The schedulers consistently reported that their leisure time felt more like work, which probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you if you’ve already noted the overwhelmingly unsexy effects scheduling has on your sex life.
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Nevertheless, researchers advise against throwing out the very schedule that allows you to occasionally make it to the gym, or catch up with a friend (or, you know, have sex). Rather, they recommend picking the day for your “me time,” without setting the exact time. For example, don’t schedule lunch with a college buddy; instead, agree to a date that make sense, and determine if you’re getting lunch or beers once the day actually arrives and you know what it looks like. Unfortunately, this means you can now only hang out with friends with kids, because they’re the only ones who will tolerate your infinitely elastic social schedule.