The Importance of Unstructured Time

Landyn smiles by the Engineering Pond.

This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Healthy Campus Initiatives. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @RowanHCI on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Landyn posing outside Bunce Hall while wearing a Rowan jacket.

Humans naturally gravitate towards routinized lifestyles centered around patterns. From a young age, we’re exposed to the concept of “time management,” and all throughout our lives we compare schedules and find ways to fit in every little thing we have ever wanted to do. But oftentimes we fail to ask ourselves: what about unstructured time?

Everyone knows what I mean, that awkward 15 minutes in between two back-to-back classes that often gets spent filling in with additional schoolwork; or the half hour lunch break spent grading exams, filling out papers or restocking laboratories. We all do it, it’s our instinct to fill the gaps with priorities.

But every now and then, it’s important to allow ourselves the opportunity to simply just be. To not have a task, to not have an objective, to not create work.

Letting the mind wander and focusing on breathing in those moments is not only healthy, but also crucial for overall creativity, stress relief, and mental well-being. Think of it as a mental recess break; just as recess is proven to be effective for healthy development in young children, adults need this ability to relax and decompress as well (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2006).

With the ongoing global pandemic, and this evolution of “work” occupying what feels like every second of everyone’s lives, it is imperative that we allow unstructured time to remain unstructured and serve its purpose for providing us not only a needed mental break, but personal enjoyment as well. 

Landyn posing outside Bunce Hall wearing a blue t-shirt and a white cap.

References: 

Jacobson L. Children’s Lack of Playtime Seen As Troubling Health, School Issue. Education Week [Internet]. 2008 Dec 3 [cited 2021 Feb 12];28(14):1–15. Available from: https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.rowan.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eue&AN=5080228 80&site=ehost-live

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Story by: 
Landyn Bacanskas, sophomore biomedical engineering major

Photos by:
Stephanie Batista, sophomore music industry major

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