I’d be willing to bet that at least once a week, you have some kind of subtle panic reaction when you think about what you’re doing with your time. We see this everywhere – people are always saying “I’d love to, but let me check my schedule” unconsciously knowing darn well that they just generally feel like life won’t let them have enough time for anything. I even find myself occasionally pausing when someone asks me about doing something as simple as meeting for coffee. It’s like I have some time account somewhere that I fear is overdrawn because I haven’t balanced the ledger recently, and I’m worried I’ll get penalties for bouncing my time checks or something. Part of this is simple time management stuff, but part of it may be the QUALITY of your time, rather than the quantity of it. The facts are that first of all, time is an arbitrary measure of something that can’t be stored or saved. Or deferred. It’s going to “keep going”, to the extent that it exists at all. The second thing is, we actually have more leisure time than at almost any point in human history.
So how could giving away some of your time possibly ease your frustrations about how much you have? Well, a recent study by a trio of academics from Wharton, Yale, and Harvard ended up with some interesting results. This piece from the Association for Psychological Science covers it in detail, but the gist of the idea is that when subjects were given either an altruistic task to complete, a mundane task, or leisure time, the subjects that were assigned a task that involved helping someone tested as perceiving themselves to have more time than even the subjects who had enjoyed leisure time.
Feeling short on time? Maybe you should stop reading and go give some of it away!