If you schedule leisure activities the same way you schedule meetings or doctor appointments, you may not be having much fun. That’s the conclusion of new research from Selin Malkoc, associate professor marketing, and Gabriela Tonietto, a doctoral candidate in marketing.
Malkoc and Tonietto 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.
“Looking at a variety of different leisure activities, we consistently find that scheduling can make these otherwise fun tasks feel more like work and decrease how much we enjoy them,” Tonietto said.
While the research shows less scheduling is a good thing when it comes to fun, Tonietto and Malkoc stress people still need to hang onto their calendars.
“A host of past research has shown that scheduling and planning is important in getting things done,” Malkoc said. “This work mostly examined non-leisure tasks, such as getting a flu shot. In our work, we find that this is also true for leisure tasks — that is, scheduling indeed increases our chances of engaging in them. But, on the flip side, we tend to enjoy it less.
“So it really is a balancing game, and it comes down to knowing what you will gain and lose when we schedule fun activities,” Malkoc said.