Too Much Free Time Could Be as Bad as Having None at All, According to Study

"[The] findings suggest that ending up with entire days free to fill at one's discretion may leave one similarly unhappy."

Today in new you don't want to hear: a new study says too much free time could be as bad as having none at all.

The study, which comes from the American Psychological Assocation and published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, analyzed data from 21,736 Americans that gave a detailed account of their activities in a day along with their sense of well-being.

"People often complain about being too busy and express wanting more time. But is more time actually linked to greater happiness? We found that having a dearth of discretionary hours in one's day results in greater stress and lower subjective well-being," said Marissa Sharif, PhD, The Wharton School assistant professor of marketing and lead author.

She continues to say, much to all of our dismay, that having free time isn't the solution: "However, while too little time is bad, having more time is not always better."

What the study found was that excess free time didn't actually help with anyone's well-being.

"Our findings suggest that ending up with entire days free to fill at one's discretion may leave one similarly unhappy. People should instead strive for having a moderate amount of free time to spend how they want. In cases when people do find themselves with excessive amounts of discretionary time, such as retirement or having left a job, our results suggest these individuals would benefit from spending their newfound time with purpose," Sharif added.

Think about that the next time you dream of an (extended) vacation.

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About The Author
Paolo Chua
Associate Style Editor
Paolo Chua is the Associate Style Editor at Esquire Philippines, where he writes about fashion and grooming. Before joining Esquire Philippines, he was a writer at Town & Country Philippines.
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