Plan your work and plan your play

By • Published: January 25th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Time away from the demands of work is essential for refreshing the spirit, renewing the mind and invigorating the body. But having lots of free time might not boost your quality of life. It turns out that it’s not the amount of free time you have, but rather how you manage the time you have that counts, according to new research in the Journal of Happiness Studies.

So a well-planned weekend or mini-vacation could do you more good than weeks and weeks of just “killing time.”

Not making plans for your time off can have unwanted effects. People feel bored once the pleasure of doing nothing wears off, and can get into trouble while searching for excitement. They can end up leading a sedentary lifestyle, wiling away hours on end in front of a computer or television instead of getting the recommended amounts of physical activity. And they can feel rushed or that they don’t have enough time to do the things they want to do.

Managing time off in the same way you manage work time… setting goals and priorities and evaluating how you use the time… can help you make the most of it, and feel better about it too.

Researchers studied more than 400 undergraduate students and found their sense of self-acceptance and satisfaction with friendships and intimate relationships… not to mention their ability to concentrate… were some of the factors positively linked to managing free time.

Planning out free time doesn’t mean the death of spontaneity. The best-laid plans tend to have a little wiggle room, after all.

So when you get away from work this weekend, leave the duties behind but take the attitude of planning, scheduling and listmaking. Of course, you can still spend a whole day doing nothing. Just make sure it’s what you had planned.