What's your ideal weekend? Is it a flurry of activity, a restorative state of repose or a mix of both?
Given 38 possible leisure activities to choose from, most people said they had engaged in between eight and 13 during the past weekend. A handful, though, said they had participated in 20 or more -- or three or fewer. What accounts for the difference in downtime style between someone who participated in, say, 33 of the survey's activities and someone who participated in two?
One factor is economics. Many of the busiest had relatively high incomes, while the least active often made less. Another is marriage. Married respondents often said they had too much to do on their weekends.
A few conversations with those at either end of the spectrum revealed that those whose answers made them appear extremely busy hadn't always been as frenetic as they seemed while those whose answers made them appear inactive didn't necessarily spend their weekends doing nothing. After all, as several respondents in the latter group pointed out, many activities -- artistic pursuits, volunteering, playtime with kids or pets -- weren't on the poll's list.
Arlington resident Catherine Blair, 27, told pollsters she'd napped and read a book on the weekend in question. But she didn't just binge on romance novels -- she was writing her dissertation on Russian history and working at Borders Books & Music. Schoolwork dominates her free time, but she also noted, "I don't like a lot of energetic outdoor activities, so I wouldn't do them even if I had the time."
Another seemingly inactive respondent, 39-year-old Carl Tindall of Silver Spring, spends his leisure time immersed in his passion -- playing music. He works on his keyboard technique on the weekends and hopes to start playing gigs around town. "I'd like to fill up my weekends with that," he says.
Dorothy Anne Troup, 68, of Gaithersburg says the pollsters caught her after an atypical weekend -- ordinarily her weekends are even less busy. On the weekend in question she was helping her cousin move. As a rule, though, she likes to "keep weekends as free as I possibly can," doing housework, seeing friends for dinner and spending time with her three Yorkies. Relaxing, she says, is her number one priority on weekends.
And what about the overachievers, those multi-taskers of leisure? Weekends for Centreville's Kiran Kanugovi, 38, often include shepherding visiting friends and family downtown to see Washington's sights. But when she's not entertaining, she goes on walks with her husband and enjoys time with their baby. Of her scheduling, she says, "Basically we work around the baby's schedule, and then plan what we want to do."
Another active respondent, Anthony Green, 48, of the District, has a "work first, play later" approach that obviously pays off: He told pollsters he'd participated in 33 of the survey's 38 activities during the past weekend. But, he says, he always tries to clean his apartment before doing anything else.
"I know somewhere down the line I'll have time for myself," he says. "I don't know exactly how I'm going to do it, but I know I'm going to do something fun."
-- Christina Talcott