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New study says people can find more time by giving it away

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 11 2012 10:53 a.m. MDT

Studies show giving time to help others may actually increase time to get other things done.

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A new study shows that the key to having more time may be spending time doing things for other people.

The Harvard Business Review featured an exchange with Cassie Mogilner, assistant professor of marketing at the Wharton School, where she says "spending time helping others leaves people feeling as if they have more time, not less."

This isn't what people would expect, as one frustrated student asked at Chabad.org: "I am 18 years old. Between school, homework, and a little time for myself, I barely have time to breathe. How can I help other people when I'm soooooo busy in my own life!!??"

Yet in Mogilner's experiments, "the people who lent a hand to others felt as if they had more time than the people who did not."

Why?

"The explanation that emerged in our results is that people who give time feel more capable, confident, and useful. 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."

Even though they really have less time, the effects don't take a lot of time. Ten minutes is enough to make a difference.

Another recently published study in the APA's Health Psychology journal shows, however, that it really is possible to volunteer and have more time. A news item from the American Psychological Association talked about the study: "This was the first time research has shown volunteers' motives can have a significant impact on life span. Volunteers lived longer than people who didn't volunteer … ."

But there is a catch. You can't volunteer with the hopes it will make you live longer. For it to work, a person has to volunteer for "altruistic values or a desire for social connections as the main reasons for wanting to volunteer," according to the study.

"It is reasonable for people to volunteer in part because of benefits to the self," study co-author Andrea Fuhrel-Forbis says in the APA article, "however, our research implies that should these benefits to the self become the main motive for volunteering, they may not see those benefits."

EMAIL: mdegroote@desnews.com Twitter: @degroote Facebook: facebook.com/madegroote

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