The perfect solution to the feeling of never having time is giving of our time to others according to the following piece. I wonder if that is why people tend to take on too much, because of the perception that there is always more time to do things, even when the time doesn’t really exist.

Helping Others is Worth Our Time

By Debra Manchester MacMannis, LCSW


“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”                                                                 -Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresea, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”                                      -H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Do you worry that you are not spending enough time with your children? Are you plagued by guilt when you sit around and do nothing? Do you feel that there is never enough time to do the things you have to do, let alone the things you wish you could do? You are not alone. But there is hope to be found.

Results of new research soon to be published in Psychological Science offers busy parents an unlikely solution. Compared with wasting time or spending time on oneself, it turns out that spending time giving to others gives us the feeling of having more time.

Since we have yet to figure out how to stop time all together, researchers Cassie Mogliner, Zoe Chance and Michael Norton did a series of experiments about different ways of spending time. They asked participants to do something on a Saturday morning, either for themselves or for someone else. The ones who did something that helped others felt like they had more time on their day off.

The best solution for feeling like you don’t have enough time turns out to be a paradox. It is not being given more time.”It is not so much how much time you have,” says Harvard Business School’s Michael Norton, “as how you feel about what you can get done in the time that you do have.” Although “vegging out” in front of the television and getting massages are relaxing, doing something for someone else helps us feel like we are in control of our lives and gives us more confidence that we can manage our stresses.

Put this together with the findings of a previously published, award-winning study, entitled Changing Rhythms of American Family Life. Examining the activities of mothers and fathers over the last forty years, Suzanne Bianchi and fellow social scientists surprisingly found that parents spent just as much time interacting with their children in 2000 as they did in 1965. Because of the increase in women’s paid work hours, parents have had be creative so that the kids are not short-changed.

Moms and Dads have managed to do just that via several methods. First, parents have been perfecting the art of multi-tasking. (Was that even a word in the 1960′s?) A second way has been to include the kids in leisure activities that previously might have been done only by the adults. (Did you ever see a mom or dad jogging while pushing a baby stroller twenty years ago?) Mothers also shifted their priorities. Rather than neglect the kids, moms greatly reduced the amount of time spent on housework and turned to faster ways of providing meals.

The take-away messages for busy, overwhelmed parents from both of these studies are the following:

1. Stop feeling so guilty. You have already figured out how to balance work and home life better than you thought.

2. Any way to bring a sense of control to your life will give you the feeling of having more time. Set some simple priorities for yourself that are easily accomplished.

3. Include the kids in activities that make you, as parents, happier and healthier, rather than the other way around.

4. Spend time giving to others. You’ll be surprised how much more time you feel you have to spare!