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You set aside blocks of time to check your email and to exercise. And can we just say that your iCal is a color-coded masterpiece of meetings? But did you know you could be even more productive, creative and happy if you earmarked an hour for the unexpected? No one’s suggesting you go all Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller and schedule your life down to the minute. But putting these counterintuitive activities into your planner may just help you live your best life (and yes, Oprah totally does it).  

RELATED: 5 Ways to (Finally) Conquer Your Daily Routine

thinking couch

Time to Stare Into Space

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner schedules two hours of “thinking time” per day. Oprah just sits in a chair for a minimum of ten minutes every morning. The CEOs of billion-dollar eyewear brand Warby Parker set aside 90 minutes each day to “do nothing.” You don’t need an app. You don’t even have to call it meditation. The point is not to call it anything. Nama-stay right where you are and just chiiiiiill. We feel more CEO-ish already. 

to do list

Time to Worry

Summing up recent research on anxiety, The Cut’s Kristin Wong writes: “Carve out a small chunk of time each day—ideally always at the same time and place—to focus on your worries. This way…by the time bedtime rolls around, you’ve already addressed everything that’s making you anxious. The key is to be productive while worrying…whether that means writing down any thoughts or concerns, creating a to-do list or actively trying to solve the problems that the worries present.” Sorry, Marcia, can’t make that 3 p.m. marketing presentation; that’s my worry hour. 

feet in bed


Science says there is a direct correlation between having sex at least once a week and relationship happiness. Still, the idea of scheduling it may make you feel like a Subaru getting sent in for routine maintenance. Enter clinical psychologist Dr. Samantha Rodman, who has a perspective-shifting way of presenting the idea: Don’t get overly specific, she suggests. “Knowing ‘Friday is the day for sex even if I’m exhausted/the kids were up all night/I have a headache’ doesn’t work for me or for many people,” she writes. “Instead, try something like, ‘If I wake up before you and the kids on any given weekday, I will initiate sex with you’ or ‘Any naptime that the kids are all asleep at once is game time’ or ‘Weekends are our time.’  Making the window wider may actually increase the number of times you have sex because it’s not so much pressure.”  

kid mom chair

Downtime with Your kids

Psychiatrist and co-author of The Overscheduled Child Dr. Alvin Rosenfeld advised The New York Times that parents should “make sure children have enough time with no activities, parents have enough time with no work and the two sides come together to create activities of their own… Spend time with no goal in mind. That will communicate to your child that you love them. And if a child feels loved, life can present them with hardships, but these setbacks will never defeat them.” And like any efficient pre-planned meeting, you're encouraged to put a time limit on playtime. “If you feel like you’ll have to play for hours, you will likely feel resentful,” writes parenting teacher Kate Baltrotsky. “But, if you give yourself a time limit—say, five minutes per day of high energy play or, even half an hour, once a week—then you won’t feel like playing with the kids is such a big deal... Giving yourself a time limit seems over-prescriptive, but if you’re the type of person who will avoid playing with your kids because you don’t enjoy it, then keeping track of time is probably a good idea.”

RELATED: 8 Ways to Connect with Your Kids When You Hate to Play

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