It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.
“49 percent of women say they do not have enough free time. … Women who set aside regular free time are ultimately more satisfied with their lives – 50 percent report being satisfied versus 41 percent of those who regularly postpone their free time.” (“Women Need More Free Time Says Real Simple Study” ; Fishbowl NY, 3/9/2012)
The lack of free time is one of the biggest detractors from adult friendship, if you ask me. Because whether we feel we have free time or not, we make time for work and errands and family and fitness. But with friends, we wait until time opens up. On that rare occasion when, “wow! I have nothing going on this afternoon,” that’s when we call a buddy and invite them for a pedicure or to see The Hunger Games.
Those other to-dos—work, exercise, family, chores—are priorities, but we treat friendship as a luxury. Something we get around to when we have an extra hour to spare. But, according to this study, almost half of us don’t have enough free time as it is! And so we miss our BFF time, those very important moments that helps us relax, laugh and connect.
If that’s all hanging with pals was—just an excuse to kick back—it might not be so bad that women continually postpone it. But keep in mind that time spent with friends also dramatically increases your odds of long-term survival, delays memory loss, lowers stress, improves sleep, and boosts your immune system. It is probably the best thing you could do for your health.
The Real Simple study quoted above found that much of the time pressure women feel is self-imposed. According to their research, the free-time deficit is often caused by poor delegating or not letting go of control. That’s not likely to change all too soon. Sad, but true.
So I propose a mental shift. To fit in more time with friends, which really is as vital to our health and happiness as anything else, stop thinking of it as a luxury. Friendship shouldn’t be a free-time activity. It should be a make-time activity. Add “spend one hour with Sally” to your to-do list. Right after “schedule doctor appointment” and before “grocery shopping.” Fit it in there now, so you won’t forget about it later when ever elusive free-time disappears.
Added bonus: Suddenly there will be something on your to-do list you’re actually looking forward to doing. Ta-da! Magic.
Are you one of the 41% who doesn’t have enough free time? Does that lack of free time keep you from seeing friends? Do you think the “free-time” to “make-time” mental shift can work?
Chicago! I’ll be reading tomorrow night, 3/22, at 7 pm at Open Books. It will be a meet and mingle event, and you know what that means — new friends for all! I’d be so thrilled to see you there.