Managers and leaders lead extremely busy lives from the start of their day to the end. So whenever they do get a break in their day, they most likely surf the Internet, take a nap, or actually eat their lunch for once.
Well, a new study suggests instead of taking time for yourself during an extremely busy day, you should help others. No, that isn’t a trick sentence. Cassie Mogilner, assistant professor of marketing at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, told The Harvard Business Review that a study she conducted proves that spending time helping others leaves people feeling as if they have more time, not less.
Mogilner assigned subjects to help another person either by writing a note to a sick child, for example, or editing a student’s essay. In a second study they did something for themselves, and in a third study they left the lab early. In each experiment the people who lent a hand to others felt as if they had more time than the people who did not.
“The explanation that emerged in our results is that people who give time feel more capable, confident, and useful,” she told the publication. “They feel they’ve accomplished something and, therefore, that they can accomplish more in the future. And this self-efficacy makes them feel that time is more expansive.”
This study could have interesting implications for managers because one major issue they deal with is time management. Many managers feel they don’t have enough time in their day to accomplish all they need to do and, as a result, are forced to work nights and weekends.
But if there was some magical way that managers could find more time in their day without sacrificing the quality of work, well, a work-life balance could actually be a reality.
Now it’s important to keep in mind that even though people feel as if they have more time with this strategy, they actually don’t. Mogliner said while it’s true that if you give too much time away and don’t accomplish your tasks, this idea won’t work. However, if you spend just 30 minutes helping someone while you take a break from your own work, it can make you feel you can do more in the time you have.
Instead of researching your fantasy football team when you take a break, do some type of activity that helps another person. This can be bringing coffee to your direct reports, helping out your child with their math homework, picking up your partner’s dry cleaning, etc.
So we encourage everyone – no matter what level of the leadership ladder they are on – to try this concept. Track your time for one week to see how you spend it. Check that the way you spend your time is compatible with your goals and values. Be sure to let us know if taking time out of your day to help others actually makes you feel like you have more time in the end.
Tell us, what are some of the other actions you take to feel less time constrained?