Giving Away Time to Get More Time

Giving Away Time to Get More Time

Let’s face it; at the end of the day I think we all wish we had more time.  More time to read, more time to write; more time to spend with loved ones, and more time to perfect my golf game.  Ok, I took one more step than I should have; there is no cure for my golf game.

But I do want and feel I need more time. I read with great interest a recent article in the Harvard Business Review titled You’ll Feel Less Rushed if You Give Time Away (HBR, September 2012).  This was the feature article of Defend Your Research, and was a conversation with Professor Mogilner defending her research findings that “spending time helping others leaves people feeling as if they have more time, not less.”

My first reaction to this finding was “no way.”  Between my wife Peggy and myself, we just don’t have enough time for things like spending time with our grandchildren. And when we do we spend time with them,  we only want more time.  We often talk about having parallel lives – we’ve all heard people say they wish they could clone themselves.

In re-reading the article, I think I missed a major item the first time. When Professor Mogilner talks about giving away time, it is giving time in helping others.  She indicates that giving “even a small amount of time to someone else should make you feel you can do more in the time you have.”  Of course there is only so much time in a day, but Professor Mogilner found that while by giving away time you do essentially have less time; but those who gave away time felt more effective, and that it enhanced their productivity.

I feel that as professional continuing educators we must be actively involved in our community.  This means giving away our time to serve on local boards, and volunteering our time to community projects.  One of the things that I am extremely proud of is the level of community engagement by our staff in Outreach & Engagement.

Thinking about giving time away gives me a nice transition into talking about my most recent foray: Jim Shaeffer is one of the “Celebrity Stars” in the 2012 Dancing with the Stars of the ‘Burg.   You can find incriminating photos and more at the website:

Now that you’ve quit laughing, I hope I have your attention.  I agreed to do this because the event is all about raising money for a cause that merits our support – the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Child Day Care Center.  The way we raise the money is when people vote for their favorite star one dollar represents one vote.  My talented coach and dancing partner for this event is a lovely young lady who also works at JMU – so, we’ve changed the moniker for our team from ‘Team Shaeffer’ to TEAM JMU.  Gotta admit, it’s catchy!

If you want to vote for Team JMU, go to

For the sake of full disclosure, I am taking dancing lessons to prepare for the big night – and we have decided to dance the Viennese Waltz (see attached video for just a taste). Yeah, I can hear you start laughing again.

While I must admit that once again I’ve gone way outside my comfort zone, I am confident that I will get more in return on this foray than what I will put in.  I believe that I’m an example of what Professor Mogilner found, “people who give time feel more capable, confident….and feel they’ve accomplished something.”

Clearly, with the help of my dancing partner, if I can complete my dance on November 11, 2012 without making too much a fool of myself, that will be an accomplishment.

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2 Responses to Giving Away Time to Get More Time

  1. Don Swoboda says:

    I paid money to see this?
    don s

  2. grahammb says:

    GREAT perspective. I’ve heard it said that you have three options with your life: Save it, spend it, or give it away…..and the third option is the one that makes the most difference.

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