As I finally put these thoughts together for this article, I am reminded again of how little free time I have (read: I am past my deadline for writing this). I am fascinated with articles on time management, how to organize your inbox, ways to cut down on unnecessary meetings, etc., so I was especially interested in an article in the September 2012 issue of the Harvard Business Review. I carried it to NYC last week so I could read it on the plane during that 20 minutes or so when you can’t use any electronic devices, thus maximizing my time.
In the article “You’ll Feel Less Rushed If You Give Time Away”, Professor Cassie Mogilner defends her research findings that “spending as little as 10 minutes helping others can make you feel less time-constrained.”
Logically, we know that if we give away our time, we have less time with which to accomplish our to-do lists. So what is the fundamental idea behind her study participants giving away pieces of their 24 finite hours in a day? Mogilner finds that “…objectively they have less time. But they feel more effective, and that enhances their productivity…our research 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.”
I found her research compelling so now for the next step: how can we apply this to what we do as communicators? Here are three quick ideas.
- Actively seek out and mentor a less-experienced communicator on your team or within your sphere of influence. Invite them to IABC lunches or just invite them to lunch to talk about their goals and if there is anything you can do to help them grow their skills and succeed. Many times, younger people might not realize how this could help them and you might learn just as much from them (social media, anyone?).
- If you live near a college town, find out if the school has a communications program and contact the department to see what types of activities they have in place.
- Find a non-profit that interests you or an organization that helps people and take a quick review of their website, Facebook page or current correspondence to see if there are any opportunities there.
Yes, these suggestions may turn out to be more than 10 minutes but you can control how much time you offer. My advice is to start small.
So how am I going to try this out to see if it works? I’m going to find a nursing home and see how I can help the residents with correspondence, help them with the Internet, or just read to them. Stay tuned and I’m interested to hear if this works for you.
Bonnie Anderson is an IABC board member and current works at Deloitte as part of their Markets & Offerings group and previously led Merger & Acquisition Services communications.