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?

What Experience Helped You Grow?

In theory, we get better as we age. As we gain experience and learn about ourselves and the world around us, we grow and mature.

Throughout life, there are important lessons that help us grow up. These might be painful, or frustrating, or fun, or joyous. The important thing is that we learn a lesson, or gain some new insight.

Is there a particular moment or occasion that helped you become a better person? What experience helped you grow?

Related questions: What makes you you? How have you changed? What was the best time in your life? What are you the most proud of?

 

What Is Your Favorite Shared Experience?

Humans are a social species. We like to connect with other humans, to share ideas and experiences. A shared experience, like a movie or a concert, is more enjoyable than the same activity done in isolation.

As such, things we can do together have a special place in our psyches. We remember where we were when a impactful moment happens, one that everyone knows. The moon landing. 9/11. The space shuttle Challenger explosion.

Often these events can be traumatic, like the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. or JFK. But they can also be a cultural event, like the final episode of a TV show like M*A*S*H or Seinfeld. Or a movie like The Avengers, or a sporting event like the Super Bowl.

Personally, I don’t know much about Game of Thrones. I’ve never read any of the books or seen any of the TV shows. But I felt a sense of loss as the final few episodes aired recently.

The shows aren’t going anywhere. Now that they are all done, I can binge watch the whole thing any time I want. But the communal feeling that viewers had, knowing that a large percentage of society was paying attention, cannot be recaptured.

I wish I had been part of a viewing party. Or been able to talk to friends or co-workers about what shocking thing happened last night. Or been able to appreciate the late night talk show jokes, or read any of the seemingly endless blogs or magazine articles dissecting every minor detail of each of the last few episodes.

Those moments, of a shared community, makes us feel like we are part of more than just our tiny selves.

When have you felt a part of a cultural moment? What is your favorite shared experience?

Related questions: What is your favorite experience? Where do shared ideas exist? Why do we feel the need to belong? What do we have in common? What makes a community?