With the start of the new year and the new decade comes the pressure to get your sh*t together. And chances are the first few weeks of your new year have been filled with setting goals and using bullet journals, planners, and a digital calendar to block out your days. So, as you plan your weekly schedule, carving out time for exercise and important appointments, why not also designate some time for pleasure?

Mainstream depictions of solo and partnered sex have us believe that pleasure is something that just kind of happens spontaneously and without prior planning or much effort. But setting aside time to get intimate with yourself or a partner could give your sex life a positive boost.

Although sex doesn’t have to be scheduled in order to be enjoyable, it’s a great way to maintain intimacy and connection in a relationship. “It’s not a requirement for everyone to schedule sex, but I think most people can benefit from scheduling or setting aside time for partnered sex,” says Rachael Rose, sexuality coach and educator. “Especially in long-term relationships, it's easy to get caught up in the other parts of your life and forget to continue making sex and intimacy a priority,” she adds.

And when it comes to masturbation, setting aside regular time to pleasure yourself is a form of self-care that can help you explore what feels good for your body in a pressure-free way.

In order to get some real-life insight into the benefits of schedling pleasure, we talked to three womxn about their experiences with designating time for solo and partnered sex:

Understanding your needs and desires

“I started setting time aside to connect with myself after a few years of terrible sexual encounters that led to me feeling completely unsatisfied sexually. I was tired of constantly pleasuring someone else, so I spent more and more time pleasuring myself and learning how my body reacts to sexual intimacy, or even just touch. Intentionally making time for sex has allowed me to explore fetishes and relationships with my own body or partners that I would never have done naturally, or passively. Scheduling is a commitment, there is a level of intent behind the action.”

-Klarisse, 27

A commitment to connection.

“I started scheduling pleasure with my husband because our schedules were hectic. We weren't seeing eye-to-eye on the what and the when. So we picked a” Do Not Disturb” day to prioritize our time with one another. Scheduling sex wasn't my favorite thing to do initially. At first, it made me question if [my husband] even wanted to do it. Now, I think it's necessary, especially for people with families. Scheduling and sticking to that schedule shows that it's a priority in the relationship. It doesn't have to take away from the spice or the spontaneity either.”

-Danielle, 32

We plan things that are important to us.

“I started taking time to schedule sex (solo and partnered) when I realized that we tend to plan things that we place value in. We plan time to hang out with friends, travel, special celebrations etc. I had a feeling that planning sex took the romance out of it, so I was initially a bit resistant. But when I realized that 1) we plan things that are important to us and 2) that doesn't mean spontanious sex won't happen, I started taking time to plan out sex dates. As someone who juggles multiple jobs, helping raise kids and maintaining a house, a social life, and multiple partners, my time is limited. So I need to use it on things that really feed me, and sex is one of those things.”

-Hunter, 30

How to schedule sex with a partner.

“I mapped out our schedules and found the day that got us home the earliest with no external responsibilities. Everything else was scheduled around 8:30pm on Wednesdays. No late appointments, we put our phones on “Do Not Disturb,” dinner was takeout or meal prepped the night before, children's lights were out by 8, we showered and then, showtime! To other couples, I would say, discuss and address the blocks, then schedule appropriately as you would anything else. Honor those appointments as you would any other one (doctor's appointment, interview, oil change etc.)!”

-Danielle, 32

“I tend to communicate about planning sex dates either verbally or over text, so we can find a mutual time that works. The biggest tip I would give is to acknowledge that sometimes you might have a sex date planned, but someone just doesn't feel in the mood. That's ok, and they don't have to do something they aren't in the mood for. I created a simple protocol that if we have a sex date planned and we’re not in the mood to have sex for whatever reason, we reschedule for another time. And we do something else that feels good that isn't about sex. It's good to acknowledge that sex is never mandatory, even if you have it scheduled. I also remembered how much fun it is to tempt and tease someone by texting them about what I'm excited to do with them at our planned sex date.”

-Hunter, 30

How to schedule sex with yourself.

“My friend and fellow sex educator, Heather Elizabeth, talks about taking yourself on an intentional date that might include a drawn out solo sex session to show yourself a good time. I loved that idea and have found it feels really nice to pay that kind of attention to my sexual needs and my body.”

-Hunter, 30

While the idea of scheduling pleasure might seem unsexy at first, it’s an opportunity to properly value something we tend to forget about the moment life becomes stressful. For solo pleasure, scheduling intimate time with yourself is an act of self-care and an opportunity to get to know yourself better. With a partner, it’s a way to show your commitment to connection and intimacy. And if you find that there are times when you or your partner aren’t feeling up for sex during your designated time, remember that it’s less about sex and more about intimacy. You can still engage in other forms of connection without the expectation of sex, like cuddling, massage, bathing together, or even mutual masturbation.