Why You Should Not Make Plans For The Weekend: The Opinion Of Psychologists

How expectations can ruin the process

Making plans is like reading spoilers or ripping off the packaging of a gift—once that happens, the intrigue disappears. Interest in the TV show fades, the gift ceases to be an object of joyful expectation, and what is planned simply becomes what needs to be done. In other words, abstract ideas are always more attractive than specific calendar entries.

Have you ever felt that a pre-planned dinner with friends or a bar trip with a close friend becomes a burden when forced into action at a certain time? And that with the approach of X-hour, the dislike for these seemingly attractive events comes from somewhere?


Everything is explainable. In a recent review published in the Journal of Marketing Research, a tandem of psychologists and marketers confirms that the more strictly planned events are, the less fun they come with – even if the plans look pleasant in all respects.

To come to this conclusion, the study participants were involved in various painless experiments. For example, they asked to meet for coffee with a friend. Moreover, half of the respondents were asked to plan it in advance, in a specific cafeteria and mark it on the calendar, while the other half could arrange a spontaneous meeting at any time during the week. It turned out that planned communication was somehow associated with duties, and not with pleasure – compared to impromptu events.

In another experiment, participants had to spend a day at the beach, having fun with activities like canoeing and guided walks. Half of the participants were asked to try two activities before the lunch picnic. The second half had to sign up for a certain time, say, from 11.00 to 14.00, and so, in order to be in time for a picnic. The first group happily tried everything they could, but the enthusiasm of the second group left much to be desired – the routine clearly reduced the desire to participate in entertainment. As the scientists summarized, even a leisure activity begins to look like work when it is overly structured. Planning ahead turns fun into a duty, and an idle get-together into an appointment.


Why you should not make plans for the weekend: the opinion of psychologists

Plans for vacation are fundamentally contrary to what we associate it with – rest and freedom. Time flies differently, acquiring a different emotional coloring, when what is happening is not subject to control and schedule.

However, if planning for you is synonymous with happiness and an integral part of life, there is no need to burn out the habit with a red-hot iron. It is not necessary to drown the weekend in a swamp of spontaneity – master soft planning, a sure compromise for those who need to schedule a few days or weeks ahead.

By adopting a flexible schedule format, you will feel more relaxed and more likely to be satisfied with the weekend. For example, if you have a shopping schedule with a girlfriend, do not set a specific hour, but arrange to meet at the mall in the afternoon, between three and five. Removing unnecessary boundaries not only enhances the pleasure of anticipation, but also brings an element of exciting spontaneity into your measured life.

Is the idea clear? If the line between “doing something on the weekend” and “how to do it all in a weekend” is thin for you, choose an intermediate option between a busy schedule and doing nothing so as not to turn the weekend into an obstacle slalom. Let yourself breathe freely, strengthen immunity from internal burnout. And by the way, who said that idleness is unworthy?