Scheduling Leisure Activities Dampens Enjoyment (and the Solution to This)

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In my downtime after returning home today, I played a game that involved moving my body. (It's Switch Sports). It's my way of keeping myself somewhat active while having fun on rest days from regular workouts.

I set myself a start and end time (totalling 30 minutes) for this leisurely activity to be productive and save time for other things.

However, setting start and end times for leisure activities dampens enjoyment of the activity.

This phenomenon is supported by a paper that discusses how:

  • scheduling leisure activities makes them feel like work,
  • and doing so reduces the excitement in anticipation of the activity and enjoyment during the activity.

One example is how scheduling a time to watch a video results in less enjoyment (and makes it feel more like work) versus watching a video impromptu.

Another example is how a scheduled coffee break (i.e. at a specific time) results in less enjoyment than assigning a window of time (i.e. any time during the window) for a coffee break.

There is a solution to this. According to study 3 in the paper, "roughly" scheduling an activity (without setting specific start or end times) does not dampen the enjoyment of leisurely activities.

Other thoughts:

  • This is even better than habit stacking. It's habit/value merging (for lack of a better term). Playing a video game while doing some minor exercise during workout downtime.

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