It’s happened again. I begin each year with an optimistic list of goals, “nice to do’s” and bucket list items to guide my time. Schedules are made, deadlines set. Run, run. Faster, faster. Time becomes scarcer, something to be carefully allocated. The days, weeks, and months race through my life. December arrives again. I look again at my optimistic list. Some things checked off, but not enough. Another year where time wins again.
Help is on the way, just in time for 2013! New work from a trio of researchers from The University of Pennsylvania, Yale and Harvard suggests that I can change my perception to make me feel like I have more time. How? According to Cassie Mogilner, Zoe Chance and Michael Norton, the secret is to give time away instead of hoarding it.
The research categorizes people in two ways. Those in the “time famine” category feel like they never have enough time to do all they want to do, so they manage scarcity. Those in the “time affluent” category feel that they have more than enough time to do what they want to do for themselves and others. The “time affluent,” who give away time to volunteering, mentoring, or spending more of it with those they love, develop a deeper sense of well-being, competence and efficiency. This sense of efficacy carries over into their perception of time; that they will have enough of it for the truly important. The good news is that we can move from the “time famine” to the “time affluent” category simply by being more generous.
I get it. The “time affluent” feel more in control of time. They spend it on people and causes important to them, which results in feeling better about accomplishments and optimistic about possibilities. Important stuff gets done and silly stuff doesn’t. The time affluent feel more effective, which usually means they are more effective.
In 2013, I hope to have the same 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days and 8,766 hours. But I’ll be giving more of it away. How about you?
Association for Psychological Science (2012, July 13). Giving time can give you time. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2012 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120713095402.htm.
- Causation Warps Our Perception of Time (psychologicalscience.org)