Science Has Found What Makes the Perfect Weekend—and It’s Not What You’d Expect

Hint: Put down the cell phone, and stop penciling people in for a dinner date on Saturday.


Filling your calendar with fun plans for the weekend may give you an initial feeling of happiness, but it turns out the mere act of scheduling that shopping excursion or dinner with your old roommate can make leisure time feel like a chore.

According to an article in Travel and Leisure, once the date is on your calendar, it becomes an obligation, which equates to work and that can suck the joy out of the most anticipated event. “Today, if I suggest to a friend that we meet on Saturday, the first thing she will do is to ask me when,” says Selin Malkoc, an assistant marketing professor at Ohio State University told about her research. “Then, we will both take our phones out and find a suitable time, dutifully enter into our calendars, and feel proud that we found a time to get together. Little do we know that, once the time comes, we will act like this was a chore and enjoy it less.”

Part of the problem is that we are all over-scheduled; our daily planners are filled with office meetings, children’s sports events, errands that need to be run, etc. So it makes perfect sense to schedule our leisure time or we might never get any for ourselves. Ah, but there’s the rub: If we schedule a set time to meet up for a cup of coffee with a friend, research shows we will inevitably not want to go. But if you don’t make plans, will you ever get out of the house? Yes, just look to the past for a solution.

“The planning of the old days were much like what we call ‘rough planning,'” Malkoc says. “People would agree to meet up on a Saturday afternoon or go for a walk after work on Tuesday.” Rough planning (also called block or spontaneous scheduling) means that instead of deciding on an exact time and place to meet up for coffee with a friend, you provide a window of time to get together. Or try “structuring half the day and having freedom half the day,” suggests organizational expert Julie Morgenstern in an article in

Easier said then done, but Morgenstern reiterates, “even leaving just a morning or afternoon open every week can give you the free time you crave to be open to whatever possibility the universe brings you.”

Here are some other ideas to help rough schedule your life:

  • Leave your phone at home for a few hours.
  • Go to dinner without a reservation or a set time. (Plan on sitting at the bar or look for a restaurant with a no-reservations policy.) Let your stomach rule when you eat.
  • See a movie without Googling reviews first.
  • Drive to a new town and let your nose lead the way to lunch.
  • Have an open house where friends can pop by whenever they feel like it.
  • Book a last-minute trip on GTFO—Get The Flight Out. Here are six of America’s most beautiful spring destinations to consider.

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