If you’re feeling pressed for time, give more of it away. Studies show that helping others makes us feel like we have more time for ourselves.
In research done at The Wharton School, participants were divided into 2 groups. One group did tasks like writing to a sick child or tutoring at-risk students while the others were given busy work or told they could go home early.
Those who completed the prosocial activities perceived their time as being more abundant and spent longer working on additional tasks.
After a draining day at work, you may feel like crashing in front of the TV or focusing on your own to do list, but doing things for others will make you happier and more productive.
Use these ideas to get started:
How to Give More Time to Others
- Call your parents. If you live too far apart to visit often, you can still phone your parents regularly. How about making it a video call so they can see you?
- Volunteer in your community. Find a worthy cause that you want to support. You could sort cans at a food bank or deliver meals to senior citizens. Go on your own or bring along family and friends.
- Help a coworker. Notice when a colleague is under pressure. Ask them what you can do to help. Maybe you can proofread a document or return some of their phone calls until they have a chance to catch up.
- Greet a neighbor. Introduce yourself to the families who live on your block. Bring them extra tomatoes from your garden or invite them over for coffee.
- Chat with a stranger. Give a compliment to a passerby who is wearing stylish eyeglasses or has a nice smile. Ask someone for directions on how to use the local public transportation or strike up a conversation about the new bakery selections at the grocery store.
- Read to your kids. Turn bedtime stories into a regular ritual. Take turns reading to each other and inventing your own tales.
- Date your spouse. Set aside time to spend as a couple. Go out for dinner and a movie or take a stroll through an art gallery or shopping mall.
- Hang out with your friends. Nurture your friendships with regular lunches and potluck dinners. Share laughter and deep conversations.
How to Be More Present in the Time You Give to Others
- Live in the moment. Focus on whoever you are with instead of dwelling on the past or thinking about the future. Put aside any distractions.
- Listen closely. Practice attentive listening. Nod your head and provide encouraging feedback. Ask pertinent questions and paraphrase what you heard to ensure you understand the message.
- Make eye contact. Meet the other person’s gaze. Let them know that they’re being seen as well as heard.
- Provide validation. You can accept what others say even when you disagree. Recognize that their feelings matter. Tell them they have your support even when you have different opinions.
- Show enthusiasm. Take a sincere interest in the lives of others. Remember how much others have done to help you, from teaching to you to read to curing your illnesses. Care about their happiness and wellbeing.
- Hide your phone. If you’re tempted to check your phone, stow it out of sight. Turn the volume off for a while.
Being generous with your time will make you feel like you have more hours in your day. Show your family, friends, and colleagues that you care by giving them your time and attention.