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Can ‘Psychological Time’ Catalyze Productivity and Employee Engagement?

Harvard professor Michael Norton and his Ivy League colleagues may have stumbled on the secret to boosting productivity and improving employee engagement: psychological time. This trick isn't about time management; instead, it's about making employees feel like they have more free time without clearing their schedules.

Harvard professor Michael Norton and his Ivy League colleagues may have stumbled on the secret to boosting productivity and improving employee engagement: psychological time. This trick isn’t about time management; instead, it’s about making employees feel like they have more free time without clearing their schedules.

“Time management tends to be about helping employees do things faster, or do fewer things,” Norton explained to Business Insider. “Some of those strategies are terrific. But we wondered if there were things we could add to someone’s schedule that would make you feel like you had more time.”

The group’s paper “Giving Time Gives You Time” [PDF] explains that the key to unlocking psychological time is to add tasks to employees’ schedules that require them to help other people. Such tasks made research participants feel like they had more free time than when they were instructed to only spend time on themselves. Employees who feel that their time is spent wisely are far more likely to remain engaged, happy and productive in the workplace than their disengaged, stressed-out colleagues.

Do you have opportunities to help people in your day-to-day work responsibilities?

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(Photo credit: Jerry Bunkers/Flickr)

Marissa Brassfield
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