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Too much spare time is just as dangerous as not having enough.

This is supported by a study from the University of Pennsylvania, which found that when free time grows, so does one's sense of well-being, but only up to a point.

By The WeroPublished 6 months ago 3 min read
Too much spare time is just as dangerous as not having enough.
Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash

Those who drive themselves to exhaustion all day to get away from job, house, children, and chores, and never have time for themselves, are not much worse off than those who have all the time necessary (and even more.) to dedicate to one's passions, care for one's health and mind, and laze. It may appear unbelievable, but research backs it up.

According to recent research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, having too much leisure time is almost as hazardous for your health as not having enough. In the beginning, as free time improves, so does one's sense of well-being, but only to a degree."People frequently moan about being too busy and wishing they had more time for themselves." Is more time, however, associated with more happiness? "We've discovered that working fewer hours correlates to more stress and lower subjective well-being," says Marissa Sharif of the University of Pennsylvania. "However, although having too little time is undesirable, having too much time isn't necessarily better."

Photo by Vitolda Klein on Unsplash

The researchers examined data from over 21,700 Americans who took part in the American Time Use Survey between 2012 and 2013. Participants submitted a thorough record of their activities during the preceding 24 hours, including the time of day and length of each activity. They also measured their sense of well-being. Unsurprisingly, the findings reveal that having more free time increases well-being. However, after around two hours, the happiness level stabilized and began to fall.

The researchers also examined data from over 13,600 American workers who took part in the National Study of the Changing Workforce between 1992 and 2008. Among the poll questions was this: "On average, on the days you work, how many hours do you devote to your leisure time activities?" The findings demonstrate, once again, that free time is associated with higher levels of well-being, but only up to a certain point.

Two online trials involving over 6,000 individuals were used to further the study. In the first experiment, respondents were instructed to envision having a particular amount of free time each day for at least six months. Participants were randomized into three groups at random: those with little free time (15 minutes per day), those with a reasonable amount (3.5 hours per day), and those with a lot of spare time (seven hours). Participants were asked when they would have fun, happiness, and fulfillment.

Photo by NegiPho on Unsplash

People with too little and too much free time reported lower levels of happiness than those with a balanced amount. Those who were very occupied felt anxious, while those who were overly free felt unproductive.

In the second experiment, participants were instructed to envision having either 3.5 hours or 7 hours of free time. It has also been advised that they picture spending that time on constructive things like training or hobbies, rather than unproductive activities like watching TV.

When participating in unproductive activities, those with greater free time reported lower levels of well-being. However, when engaged in productive tasks, they felt fulfilled in the same way that individuals with a modest amount of spare time did.

"Our findings show that taking entire days off to fill at one's leisure can make a person unhappy," the scientists write. "Instead, people should aim for a reasonable amount of free time to spend as they see fit." However, when you have too much time on your hands, such as when you retire or lose your work, it is best to put it to good use ».

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Thank you for reading.

See you next time!



About the Creator

The Wero

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Comments (14)

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  • test6 months ago


  • Mark Graham6 months ago

    I have just the right amount of free time now that I am semi-retired and for most of my time is spent writing, reading and research for my articles that I now write for a magazine plus on Vocal and Medium.

  • Diane Siefkes6 months ago

    The studies match my personal life - when I've got too much free time, I find myself drifting and aimless. Thanks for sharing!

  • Arthur de Beck6 months ago

    Thanks for sharing

  • La hole6 months ago

    Well done. Thank you for sharing.

  • test6 months ago

    Thanks for sharing

  • Fortis Rakow6 months ago

    Good writing

  • Bath Rudge6 months ago

    Well done. Thank you for sharing.

  • Quattlebaum Pecher6 months ago

    Go for it!

  • test6 months ago

    Praise praise praise

  • Furio J6 months ago


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  • Katrina Cain6 months ago

    Completely disagree. Time doesn't need be filled (fullFILLment) to enjoy life. It sounds like the people in the study haven't learned how to switch off from work and to simply be present in life or with themselves. One study is not the truth. Nothing in life is definite when the universe and existence is infinite. We adapt, learn and evolve.

  • Brian6 months ago

    I’m gonna say this would depend entirely on the person. For example, someone as heavily introverted as myself will thrive in an environment where they have little-no obligations whereas a more outgoing personality will suffer from a lack of interaction.

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