Keep it off your calendar
Scheduling every moment of your free time could make it less enjoyable. Picking a specific date and time for a fun activity can decrease the anticipation beforehand and enjoyment in the moment, probably because it starts to feel like an obligation, a Washington University study found. Tossing your calendar to the wayside probably isn’t realistic, but the researchers suggest picking a rough time to see friends – say, “in the afternoon” instead of “2 pm” – to keep the meet up flexible instead of feeling like a chore.
Put down your phone
People who use their phones more than 10 hours a day feel more uptight and anxious during free time than those who use their phones about three hours daily, found a Kent State University study. The researchers say people who are on their phones a lot tend to feel obligated to stay connected to them, which can cause stress even when they’re trying to have fun.
Take a photo
You don’t want to live life through a screen, but snapping a photo could boost your enjoyment. In a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, volunteers participated in an activity like eating in a food court or going on a bus, and some were told to take photos. Almost across the board, those who’d snapped pictures said they enjoyed the activities more than those who hadn’t. The exception? Hands-on activities like making an art project, which is why researchers think the extra engagement you get from photo-taking is what brings pleasure. Whip out your phone’s camera when you’re at a museum or the mall to get more in-the-moment fun and some amusing snapshots to look at later.