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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Give Time To Feel Less Time-Squeeze

60-Second Science 60-Second Science | Mind & Brain

Giving time to others can have the paradoxical effect of making you feel like you have more time yourself. Katherine Harmon reports.

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Meetings, calls, kids, dogs, errands, exercise—and all those emails! Who doesn't feel starved for time these days?

But a new study suggests that you can feel like you have more time—by donating some to others. The research is in the journal Psychological Science. [Cassie Mogilner et al, Giving Time Gives You Time]

There really are only 24 hours in a day—seven or eight of which are (ideally) spent sleeping. And a time commitment does take time. But researchers found that if people felt like they had done something for others, their perception was that they had gotten more done than people who killed time, spent time on themselves or got unexpected free time. And that made them feel like they had more time overall.

You don't even have to spend your whole Sunday volunteering. The helping tasks in the study took only about 5 to 15 minutes. They included things like editing a student's essay or writing a note to a sick child.

Time donators also felt like they could do more with their time, making them even more willing to give time in the future.

—Katherine Harmon
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast]     

Below is from Cassie Mogilner et al, Giving Time Gives You Time

Compared with wasting time, spending time on oneself, and even receiving “free” time,
giving time to friends or strangers increases perceptions of having time – in both the present and
the future – by increasing feelings of self-efficacy. This is welcome news in light of research
showing the detrimental consequences of time pressure on happiness, stress levels, and prosocial
behavior . Although feeling starved for time generally leads individuals to prioritize spare hours for themselves over giving this precious resource away, our results suggest that if people instead spent time on others, they would feel less timeconstrained and more able to complete their myriad tasks and responsibilities.

Moreover, giving time to others not only increases the giver’s sense of subjective time
but can also increase the recipient’s objective amount of time, such that giving time contributes
to the well-being of both the self and others. 

Prior research shows that emotional factors such as arousal, awe, emotional intensity, and
self-regulation shape the experience of time. Our results demonstrate that the way time is spent can also impact time perception, and identifies a specific choice individuals can make to lessen their experienced time pressure: be effective by doin something for others. To be sure, decompressing in front of the television and getting massages are certainly fun and relaxing, but activities like these are very unlikely to increase feelings of self-efficacy. Indeed, people’s choice to spend additional leisure time on themselves may partly explain why the increase in leisure time in modern life has not increased people’s feelings of time affluence; our results indicate that spending time prosocially is
more effective in relieving the pressure of time. When individuals feel time-constrained, they
should become more generous with their time – despite their inclination to be less so.


Anonymous said...

This article brings forth a great point, however I don't know if I agree with it and the way they studied this concept. Now they say that by sharing your time with other (helping, etc) you feel like you have more time. I completely disagree. I love sharing information with people, being able to help them in any way I can; it makes me feel good. However, if I am busy (which I always seem to be- having full time school, full time work, home) after I am done helping my mind is racing twice as fast, because now I have less time to do what I NEED to get done, in the first place. So this concept may work as a temporary distraction to aid any anxities you may have about "getting stuff done", but in the end it's just going to make you stress more- procrastinating for later. Personally, I have to keep myself busy to be a "happy" person, but nothing sounds better than taking a day off watching TV and eating junk food next to my dogs after a long week! So perhaps the people this article is referring are those who don' have too many responsibilities, or just a single responsibility. I would love nothing more than to be able to volunteer for kids all day, every day, but I have to take care of my well-being first before I am able to do that. Another way of looking at it, is that when I use my time throughout the day, I always keep others well being in mind-i.e, I go to school not only to help myself, but to possibly become a child psychologist and help "our future"! It's all how you look at it- everyone is different.. basically, don't be lazy and don't be selfish- if you read this whole thing, chances are you're not!

Jason Mejia COM101

Anonymous said...

I always feel like I've spent my time wiser when I spend it helping other people rather than laying on my bed playing Skyrim or Fallout. However, I don't feel like I am less rushed when I help other people out. For example, when I help other foster kids with their scholarships or whatever, I feel like my entire day just disappeared and my tasks such as cleaning are never done, yet still pestering me. When I lay down on the bed playing PS3 all day, I feel like the day will never end and I have all the time in the world. Maybe I'm just an anomaly or this study didn't have a good enough sample size.

-Danielle Nunez COM 101

Lisa Mendez said...

I like this concept and I think it's true. Whenever we give of our time to help other I see it come back to me in many positive ways. I firmly believe in what we plant or do with our time comes back to us. We want to have a positive harvest, so we have to plant good seeds. One thing this reminds me of is I've been so involved in college this summer. Each night while I am studying my little girl says, Mommy it's tickle time or cuddle time. It doesn't get any better than that and what's really important in life. Then I got her and we read or work on things she needs to know for next school year.