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This is an IELTS writing task 2 sample answer essay from the general training exam on the topic of planning your activities for your leisure time.

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IELTS Essay: Activities for Leisure Time

Some people think that one should plan in detail activities for their leisure time, while others disagree with this view.

Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

Many feel that it is important to plan out their free time activities, while others opt to live more spontaneously. In my opinion, planning can be useful but over time it will devalue the activities themselves.

Arranging one’s leisure activities ahead of time is a natural impulse to ease tension and ensure their usefulness. Some psychologists have termed humans the ‘planning animal’ because of an inborn tendency arising from a calming need for security. To the person doing the planning, this serves the secondary purpose of ensuring they are not wasting their time. For example, if a motivated individual plans their day they might set out to do some exercise, read a book, finish some work at home, and cook a meal. These are productive tasks that will lead to a feeling of fulfillment at the end of the day.

However, this drive causes undue pressure and hinders enjoyment of a given activity. The human propensity to plan is also an underlying cause of stress and keeps individuals from being fully present in the moment. This can result in a situation where pre-planned activities become joyless. For instance, the person described above who maps out their day might feel they are simply ticking items off a to-do list and not enjoy the activity in itself. Contrast this with a more spontaneous lifestyle that still entails productivity but does not set a purposeful goal for every action. This person will accomplish just as much but enjoy it much more since they can be fully invested in the moment and act.

In conclusion, the useful aspects of planning do not outweigh the worth derived from spontaneous action. Individuals must naturally strike a balance but be mindful they are not subordinating an activity to its utilitarian value.

Analysis

1. Many feel that it is important to plan out their free time activities, while others opt to live more spontaneously. 2. In my opinion, planning can be useful but over time it will devalue the activities themselves.

  1. Paraphrase the overall essay topic.
  2. Write a clear opinion. Read more about introductions here.

1. Arranging one’s leisure activities ahead of time is a natural impulse to ease tension and ensure their usefulness. 2. Some psychologists have termed humans the ‘planning animal’ because of an inborn tendency arising from a calming need for security. 3. To the person doing the planning, this serves the secondary purpose of ensuring they are not wasting their time. 4. For example, if a motivated individual plans their day they might set out to do some exercise, read a book, finish some work at home, and cook a meal. 5. These are productive tasks that will lead to a feeling of fulfillment at the end of the day.

  1. Write a clear topic sentence with a clear main idea at the end.
  2. Explain your main idea.
  3. Continue to develop it.
  4. Use a hypothetical or real example.
  5. State the results of the example.

1. However, this drive causes undue pressure and hinders enjoyment of a given activity. 2. The human propensity to plan is also an underlying cause of stress and keeps individuals from being fully present in the moment. 3. This can result in a situation where pre-planned activities become joyless. 4. For instance, the person described above who maps out their day might feel they are simply ticking items off a to-do list and not enjoy the activity in itself. 5. Contrast this with a more spontaneous lifestyle that still entails productivity but does not set a purposeful goal for every action. 6. This person will accomplish just as much but enjoy it much more since they can be fully invested in the moment and act.

  1. Write another topic sentence with a new main idea at the end.
  2. Explain it.
  3. Continue to develop it.
  4. Use an example or counter-example.
  5. Contrast your example.
  6. State the final results.

1. In conclusion, the useful aspects of planning do not outweigh the worth derived from spontaneous action. 2. Individuals must naturally strike a balance but be mindful they are not subordinating an activity to its utilitarian value.

  1. Summarise both main ideas and add a final thought.
  2. Include a final thought/detail. Read more about conclusions here.

Vocabulary

What do the words in bold below mean?

Many feel that it is important to plan out their free time activities, while others opt to live more spontaneously. In my opinion, planning can be useful but over time it will devalue the activities themselves.

Arranging one’s leisure activities ahead of time is a natural impulse to ease tension and ensure their usefulness. Some psychologists have termed humans the ‘planning animal’ because of an inborn tendency arising from a calming need for security. To the person doing the planning, this serves the secondary purpose of ensuring they are not wasting their time. For example, if a motivated individual plans their day they might set out to do some exercise, read a book, finish some work at home, and cook a meal. These are productive tasks that will lead to a feeling of fulfillment at the end of the day.

However, this drive causes undue pressure and hinders enjoyment of a given activity. The human propensity to plan is also an underlying cause of stress and keeps individuals from being fully present in the moment. This can result in a situation where pre-planned activities become joyless. For instance, the person described above who maps out their day might feel they are simply ticking items off a to-do list and not enjoy the activity in itself. Contrast this with a more spontaneous lifestyle that still entails productivity but does not set a purposeful goal for every action. This person will accomplish just as much but enjoy it much more since they can be fully invested in the moment and act.

In conclusion, the useful aspects of planning do not outweigh the worth derived from spontaneous action. Individuals must naturally strike a balance but be mindful they are not subordinating an activity to its utilitarian value.

Answers

plan out think about for the future

opt choose

spontaneously without thinking ahead of time

useful has a purpose

over time in the longterm

devalue make unimportant

arranging planning

ahead of time before

natural impulse human instinct

ease tension decrease anxiety

ensure make sure

usefulness has a purpose

psychologists people who study the human brain

termed called

inborn tendency natural impulse

arising comes from

calming need relaxing desire

security safety

serves works to

secondary purpose second reason

ensuring making sure

motivated individual committed person

set out intend to

productive tasks worthwhile activities

lead to result in

feeling of fulfillment feeling of accomplishment

end of the day finally

undue pressure unnecessary stress

hinders enjoyment holds back joy

given activity activity in question

human propensity natural desire

underlying cause fundamental source

fully present in the moment not thinking ahead

result in lead to

pre-planned activities thought of ahead of time

joyless without joy

maps out plans

ticking items off a to-do list crossing off activities to do

in itself not for another purpose

contrast this with compare with

spontaneous lifestyle not planning ahead way of living

entails productivity includes doing it for a reason

set a purposeful goal have a clear aim

accomplish get done

fully invested totally committed

useful aspects utilitarian value

outweigh stronger than

worth derived value from

spontaneous action not planned out

naturally human

strike a balance find a middle ground

mindful careful of

subordinating making less important

utilitarian value use

Pronunciation

plæn aʊt 
ɒpt 
spɒnˈteɪniəsli
ˈjuːsfʊl 
ˈəʊvə taɪm 
ˌdiːˈvæljuː 
əˈreɪnʤɪŋ 
əˈhɛd ɒv taɪm 
ˈnæʧrəl ˈɪmpʌls 
iːz ˈtɛnʃən 
ɪnˈʃʊə 
ˈjuːsfʊlnəs
saɪˈkɒləʤɪsts 
tɜːmd 
ˌɪnˈbɔːn ˈtɛndənsi 
əˈraɪzɪŋ 
ˈkɑːmɪŋ niːd 
sɪˈkjʊərɪti
sɜːvz 
ˈsɛkəndəri ˈpɜːpəs 
ɪnˈʃʊərɪŋ 
ˈməʊtɪveɪtɪd ˌɪndɪˈvɪdjʊəl 
sɛt aʊt 
prəˈdʌktɪv tɑːsks 
liːd tuː 
ˈfiːlɪŋ ɒv fʊlˈfɪlmənt 
ɛnd ɒv ðə deɪ
ʌnˈdjuː ˈprɛʃə 
ˈhaɪndəz ɪnˈʤɔɪmənt 
ˈgɪvn ækˈtɪvɪti
ˈhjuːmən prəˈpɛnsɪti 
ˌʌndəˈlaɪɪŋ kɔːz 
ˈfʊli ˈprɛznt ɪn ðə ˈməʊmənt
rɪˈzʌlt ɪn 
priː-plænd ækˈtɪvɪtiz 
ˈʤɔɪlɪs
mæps aʊt 
ˈtɪkɪŋ ˈaɪtəmz ɒf ə təˈduː lɪst 
ɪn ɪtˈsɛlf
ˈkɒntrɑːst ðɪs wɪð 
spɒnˈteɪniəs ˈlaɪfˌstaɪl 
ɪnˈteɪlz ˌprɒdʌkˈtɪvɪti 
sɛt ə ˈpɜːpəsfʊl gəʊl 
əˈkɒmplɪʃ 
ˈfʊli ɪnˈvɛstɪd
ˈjuːsfʊl ˈæspɛkts 
aʊtˈweɪ 
wɜːθ dɪˈraɪvd 
spɒnˈteɪniəs ˈækʃ(ə)n
ˈnæʧrəli 
straɪk ə ˈbæləns 
ˈmaɪndfʊl 
səˈbɔːdɪneɪtɪŋ 
ˌjuːtɪlɪˈteərɪən ˈvæljuː

Vocabulary Practice

Remember and fill in the blanks:

Many feel that it is important to p_________t their free time activities, while others o__t to live more s___________________y. In my opinion, planning can be u________l but o___________e it will d________e the activities themselves.

A_____________g one’s leisure activities a_______________e is a n______________e to e_______________n and e________e their u______________s. Some p______________s have t___________d humans the ‘planning animal’ because of an i__________________y a__________g from a c_____________d for s___________y. To the person doing the planning, this s_________s the s________________________e of e___________g they are not wasting their time. For example, if a m_______________________l plans their day they might s__________t to do some exercise, read a book, finish some work at home, and cook a meal. These are p________________s that will l________o a f__________________________t at the e__________________y.

However, this drive causes u__________________e and h_________________t of a g__________________y. The h___________________y to plan is also an u___________________e of stress and keeps individuals from being f______________________________t. This can r____________n a situation where p_________________________s become j___________s. For instance, the person described above who m____________t their day might feel they are simply t_______________________________t and not enjoy the activity i_____________f. C____________________h a more s_________________________e that still e__________________________y but does not s_____________________l for every action. This person will a_____________h just as much but enjoy it much more since they can be f_________________d in the moment and act.

In conclusion, the u________________s of planning do not o____________h the w_______________d from s___________________n. Individuals must n_______________y s_____________________e but be m____________l they are not s____________________g an activity to its u______________________e.

Listening Practice

Learn more about this topic and use these ideas to improve your listening:

Reading Practice

Read more about this topic below and practice with these activities:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/articles/200512/is-the-do-list-doing-you-in

Speaking Practice

Practice with the following questions from the real IELTS speaking exam:

Taking Breaks

  1. Do you take breaks from your work?
  2. Do you prefer several short breaks or one long break?
  3. Did you take a lot of breaks when you were younger?
  4. Is it common for people in your country to take breaks?

Writing Practice

Write about the following topic and then check with my sample answer:

Shopping is now one of the most popular forms of leisure activities in many countries for young adults.

Why is this?

Do you think this is a positive or a negative development?


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