Never have enough time? Give some away, study suggests

    Do you always feel like you are racing against the clock, frantically running from one task to the next?

    Give away some of your time and you’ll feel like you have more, suggests a new study from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

    These days, “busy” is the new “say-it-all” term to describe our lives, our answer to all questions related to what we are doing and how we have been. Everybody seems to be in a time crunch, at all times.

    Wharton professor Cassie Mogilner has long been interested in the impact of time — or the lack thereof — on our happiness. Her new study explores the experience of giving time away.

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    In a series of experiments, people were asked either to spend time doing things for others, or spending time on themselves.

    Mogilner says those who spent time helping others felt like they had more time the rest of the day, and also signed up for future volunteer efforts.

    “People who spent time on others felt like they accomplished more, they felt more effective, capable, competent,” explained Mogilner. “This feeling that they have done a lot with their time translates into this feeling of how much they can do with their time in the future, and therefore how much they feel like they have.”

    Mogilner says one of the study’s lessons is that giving time to others will make us feel less crazed than relaxing in front of the TV.

    “If you instead spend that little bit of time helping somebody, reaching out to somebody, a stranger a colleague, that could have a really beneficial effect on how much time people feel they have, and much they feel they can do,” she said.

    Mogilner says she is also studying the effect of technology on people’s sense of time.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal