Don't put that run on your iCal! A new study says being more spontaneous may help you better enjoy your me time—including when you want to break a sweat

By Macaela Mackenzie
Updated: March 24, 2016

Raise your hand if your iCal/Gcal/planner looks like an advanced round of Tetris. Join the club.

Between weekend brunches, meetings, travel plans, happy hours, and an ass-kicking gym schedule, keeping an up-to-date calendar seems like a non-negotiable-especially if you don't want to turn into that flaky friend who's always missing meetings or showing up an hour late. (Skipping Workouts? Your Fitness Progress Fades Faster Than You Think.)

But according to a new batch of research from Washington University in St. Louis, you may want to rethink what you have penciled in-or at least leave yourself some blank spaces.

A team of researchers performed a series of 13 different studies to evaluate how scheduling leisure activities impacts how we experience them. One of their findings was particularly interesting: When you plan out your free time (like that lazy Sunday morning run you look forward to all week) you actually enjoy it less.

According to the researchers, the reason why is pretty simple: The second you schedule something-no matter how fun you might normally find it-it becomes an obligation, i.e. just one more thing you have to do in your already packed week. (Psst... We've got 3 Ways to Help You Find More Time Every Single Day.)

But according to their findings, there is a happy medium between a strict schedule and ditching your calendar all together. Whenever you can, keep your schedule rough. So instead of blocking off an hour between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. to log six miles on Sunday morning, commit instead to just getting those miles in at some point over the weekend.

A caveat to the free-spirited findings: Scheduling things does help us to actually get things done. So if you know you have trouble getting to the gym after work, committing to it in your calendar might help you stick to your routine. (Have you tried bullet journaling yet?) But when it comes to your me time, ditch the To Do list and give yourself permission to actually enjoy your workout.


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