Research shows there is a ‘sweet spot’ and subjective wellbeing drops off after about five hours. The Guardian: The lesson of Goldilocks, that one can have too much of a good thing, even when it comes to the size of a chair, has applied in fields from astrobiology to economics. Now, it seems it may even govern our free time. Researchers have found that while levels of subjective wellbeing initially rise as free time increases, the trend does not necessarily hold for very high levels of leisure. “The sweet spot is a moderate amount of free time,” said Dr Marissa Sharif, a co-author of the study from the University of Pennsylvania. “We found that having too much time was associated with lower subjective wellbeing due to a lacking sense of productivity and purpose.”
Writing in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Sharif and colleagues reported how they analysed results from two large-scale surveys, involving a combined total of more than 35,000 participants. One was the American Time Use Survey, which was carried out between 2012 and 2013 and asked participants what they had done in the past 24 hours. After crowdsourcing opinions on which activities would be equated with leisure time and then calculating this time for participants, the team found that while subjective wellbeing rose with the amount of free time up to about two hours, it began to drop once it exceeded five hours. Meanwhile data from the National Study of the Changing Workforce, carried out between 1992 and 2008, revealed that beyond a certain point, having more free time was no longer linked to greater subjective wellbeing, but it did not dip — possibly because few of the participants reported having more than five hours of free time a day.