Giving Time Gives You Time

By Cassie Mogilnew, Zoe Chance, and Michael I. Norton

Philadelphia, PA (October 16, 2012) – Results of four experiments reveal a counterintuitive solution to the common problem of feeling that one does not have enough time: Give some of it away. Although the objective amount of time people have cannot be increased (there are only 24 hours in a day), this research demonstrates that people’s subjective sense of time affluence can be increased.

The research compared spending time on other people with wasting time, spending time on oneself, and even gaining a windfall of “free” time, and found that spending time on others increases one’s feeling of time affluence. The impact of giving time on feelings of time affluence is driven by a boosted sense of self-efficacy. Consequently, giving time makes people more willing to commit to future engagements despite their busy schedules.

Helping others makes us feel more effective, and therefore we feel like we have more time because we can do more with our time. Read more in the “Related Resources” about how this research might help you to encourage or recruit more volunteers.

Related Resources
Giving Time Gives You Time
Asking Volunteers to Think Differently About Their Time