According to new research published by the American Psychological Association, as a person’s free time increases, so does that person’s sense of well-being, but only up to a point . Too much free time can also be a negative thing.
Avoid more than 5 hours off a day
The researchers analyzed data from 21,736 Americans who participated in the American Time Use Survey between 2012 and 2013. Participants provided a detailed account of what they did during the previous 24 hours, indicating the time of day and the duration of each activity, and reported their sense of well-being. The researchers found that as free time increased, well-being also increased, but it leveled off at about two hours and began to decline after five . The correlations in both directions were statistically significant.
To further investigate the phenomenon, the researchers conducted two online experiments with more than 6,000 participants. In the first experiment, participants were asked to imagine having a set amount of discretionary time every day for at least six months. Participants were randomized to have low (15 minutes per day), moderate (3.5 hours per day), or high (7 hours per day) of discretionary time. The participants were then asked to report the extent to which they would experience enjoyment, happiness and satisfaction .
Participants in the low and high discretionary time groups reported lower well-being than the moderate discretionary time group. The researchers found that those with little discretionary time felt more stressed than those with a moderate amount, contributing to lower well-being, but those with high levels of free time felt less productive than those in the moderate group, which it also made them have less well-being.
In the second experiment, the researchers looked at the potential role of productivity. Participants were asked to imagine having a moderate (3.5 hours) or high (7 hours) amount of free time per day, but were also asked to imagine spending that time in productive or unproductive activities. activities. The researchers found that participants with more free time reported lower levels of well-being when participating in unproductive activities. However, when participating in productive activities, those with more free time felt similar to those with a moderate amount of free time .