Put away your planner: new research says spontaneity is the key to a good weekend.

More than a dozen studies suggest that having a strict schedule for your weekend makes otherwise fun and stress-free activities feel more like chores.  

Professor Selin Malkoc of Ohio State University recently conducted a series of experiments – published in the Journal of Marketing Research – in the hopes of shedding light on the phenomenon.

“We found that the simple act of scheduling makes otherwise fun tasks feel more like work,” said Malkoc. “It also decreases how much we enjoy them.”

Malkoc and her team of researchers asked participants to envision several scenarios, like getting frozen yogurt with a friend or going canoeing. The researchers found that anytime a strict time was involved (rather than a general time frame) the activity, no matter what it was, became less appealing.

“Strict scheduling,” Malkoc said, “is at odds with how people think about leisure and relaxation. On the flip side, structured time is associated with work activities.”

Since it’s not always feasible to leave all your plans to the last minute (like, say, when you’re laying the groundwork for a big trip), Malkoc says that simply relaxing your schedule can help keep things fun and relatively anxiety-free.

This method, which she calls “rough scheduling”, involves keeping your schedule as flexible as possible rather than planning out every minute detail of a weekend or holiday.

So next time your buddy asks what you're up to Friday night, consider keeping them posted. Your fun weekend may depend on it. 

h/t Travel and Leisure