Free Time: Finding The Best Balance

We can all benefit from some free time - but is it possible to have too much?

These days, many of us feel like we don’t have enough time. Whether adopting more efficient technologies or testing new routines, there are countless ways in which we attempt to win our time back.

In a recent study, Sharif et al. surveyed 35,375 Americans to measure their overall life satisfaction as it relates to the amount of free time they have during a given day.

According to the data, the sweet spot of free time ranges from 2-5 hours per day.

Those of us who get less than two hours of discretionary time may have a lower sense of wellbeing due to stress and burnout. While those of us with too much free time feel similarly due to a lack of productivity.

Wherever you find yourself, check out these tips for optimizing your free time.

[adapted from the Washington Post]

If you have too much free time:

Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

Be Productive.

Fruitful tasks can include anything that you would consider fulfilling. Try adopting a new hobby, joining a cause, or challenging yourself to learn something new.

Be Social.

New relationships can bring a new dynamic to your abundant leisure time. Findings from the study support the notions of spending time with others as a way to minimize the negative effects on your wellbeing.

Be Optimistic.

There are some who may struggle with ample space in the schedule, viewing it as a waste. Simply flipping your perspective can help alleviate the negative effects of too much free time.

If you have too little free time:

Be Picky.

Make a point to prioritize the most important items on your schedule - and recognize your freedom to say “NO” to things that are less important.

Be Spontaneous.

Scheduling out every minute of the day can make leisure time feel like an obligation. Instead, try leaving space in your schedule and deciding on a free-time activity when the moment arises!

Be Dedicated.

Making a commitment to take small breaks throughout the day can be just the spark that you need! Try taking a short walk, taking a moment to drink your coffee, or read one chapter of a  fun book.

Sharif, M. A., Mogilner, C., & Hershfield, H. E. (2021). Having too little or too much time is linked to lower subjective well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2021 Sep 09.

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