Sped-up families tend to overcommit and overschedule. If we pack our days so full, there’s no margin, no space, no possibility that we can meet up with a friend at the last minute because life is too booked.

One of the beautiful advantages of living a slower paced life is that there is often more freedom to spend time with people, serving them or simply enjoying them.

An article from body+soul magazine called “Unplan Your Life,” by Becky Karush, suggests that life can be too planned.

The article offers several suggestions for how to invite a little spontaneity into our days, recommending that readers make room for enjoyable “noninstrumental” activity, such as reading for pleasure or chatting with friends. Schedules that squeeze out such pleasant and spontaneous moments “can contribute to problems like depression, anxiety, weakened immunity, and heart disease” (p. 102).

Also, it said that doing something novel or unexpected can trigger “neurogenesis,” the creation of new neurons in the brain–something that is linked to learning and mood.

So embrace the unexpected surprises, the unplanned visits, the spontaneous decision to hop on bikes and ride to get ice cream.

Here are the four suggestions from that article for unplanning your life:

1. Pencil It In

They suggest that we make our plans and set our schedule … but keep it loose and write it in pencil, thinking of it as a sketch of what we’d like to do, but dispensable if things should change.

2. Tweak a Habit

The article points out that one doesn’t need to make a dramatic life change to experience healthy transformation. Sometimes subtle changes make a big difference.

3. Rejigger Your To-Do List

When we schedule certain items on a to-do list, we can get caught thinking we’re committed, that we should do them on that day, no matter what. The writer proposes that we try to be flexible enough that a chore can wait a few hours while we take up an old friend on a last-minute lunch invitation.

4. Say Yes

When we’re over-booked, we have to turn down spontaneous dinner invitations or a chance to go tubing. If we learn to say yes to things, “a world of possibilities opens up.”

By the way, Jill Savage of Hearts at Home has been encouraging moms to be “yes” moms. Instead of saying no out of selfishness, default, or habit, she wants moms to say yes to things in order to bring joy to our families.

5. Wing It

Instead of scheduling every moment of a vacation, the article suggests we leave a lot of it unplanned. Doing something more adventurous like this can led us to creativity and potential life change. We might try doing something we never would have tried otherwise. This kind of approach can “shake things loose” and give us a “heightened sense of possibility and potential.”

That’s an overview of the article.

This weekend, we should try it.

Try to leave a few spaces in Saturday’s schedule blank, unfilled, ready for a surprise.

Maybe someone will invite you to picnic in the park?

Or maybe, because you’re living not so fast, you can do the inviting!

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