Do You Have Unstructured Time?

Sometimes it feels like every day is scheduled to its fullest. Every moment is spoken for, every instant efficiently organized. But is it worthwhile to have some amount of unstructured time?

It is understood that unstructured time for children is important in their development. Even if it is just for a half hour a day, recess, or unstructured play time, is a commonality in most schools.

But what about adults? Is there a value to setting aside a certain amount of time each day to do nothing? What kind of value might that be?

One theory about dreams suggest that they exist in order to allow our brains to process the events of the day. That makes a certain amount of sense, as it can be very difficult to fully understand a moment as it occurs. It is only with the passage of some time, and the opportunity to think about what happened and to put it into context, that we fully comprehend our lives.

But outside of dreams, unstructured time may provide a similar opportunity. If our brains are not focused on a particular task, they can effectively process what has happened.

Meditation has also become more popular, used by a lot of people for a number of different cognitive reasons. Whether it is concentrating on your breathing, or attempting to be fully present in the moment, many people find meditation useful for calming thoughts and making for a more peaceful day.

Does that count as unstructured time? Or is meditation a kind of structure?

Whether it is meditation, zoning out while working out at the gym, or lying in bed at night before falling asleep, we have the opportunity for unstructured time. Do you take advantage? What is the value in it? Do you have unstructured time?

Related questions: What is the value of inefficiency? What do you think about when out for a walk? Is our attention fractured? How do you set priorities? Are we too busy?

2 thoughts on “Do You Have Unstructured Time?”

  1. Is it good to have unstructured time? If it is healthy unstructured time, yes. But I tend to think that structured or unstructured time can be healthy or unhealthy. Best to think about how to maintain health first. Then proceed from there.

    For instance, unless I really impose health on my time, I tend to eat, and way overeat at that. Other people have other addictions and bad habits follow them into unstructured time. So I don’t think there is a pure value to unstructured time. That noted, if you can maintain health/good habits, unstructured time has a value, as noted in the context of this question.

    I try to reserve Sunday afternoons and evenings for my unstructured time. During that time, I’m either nested in the cushy chair in our study, or (if I’m in a anxious and cranky mood, which is too often the case late Sundays) I’ll hang out in a coffeehouse, which keeps Rebecca from having to put up with a Michael who is not fun to be around.

    Listening to music (or finding it on YouTube, as followers of my Facebook feed know) often accompanies my unstructured time. Good music makes me happy and helps my mind wander.

  2. Tomorrow I’ll be on vacation for a week. Yes, I know I have a permanent vacation now that I’m “retired”, but this is different — I’ll be away from home with, hopefully, lots of unstructured time. I’m taking a couple of good books, and plan to spend time hanging out with family. I hope everyone reading this has a vacation to look forward to in the not-to-distant future!

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