Feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list can certainly make you unhappy, but new research suggests that more free time might not be the magic elixir many of us dream it could be.
In a new multipart study released last week, researchers analyzed data from two large-scale surveys about how Americans spend their time. Together, the surveys included more than 35,000 respondents.
The researchers found that people with more free time generally had higher levels of subjective well-being ― but only up to a point.
People who had up to two hours of free time a day generally reported they felt better than those who’d had less time. But people who had five or more hours of free time a day generally said they felt worse.
So ultimately the free-time “sweet spot” might be two to three hours per day, the findings suggest.
“While too little time is bad, having more time is not always better,” said Marissa Sharif, an assistant professor of marketing at The Wharton School and lead author of the paper, in a press release.