Let me tell you about Jason.
Jason leads a 15-person team, and he takes pride in being uber-productive. He gets up earlier in the morning, follows a strict routine as he leaves the office before the rest of the family members get out of bed. Throughout the day, he answers most emails and Slack messages in minutes, and works a long day before heading home.
But not everyone on Jason’s team likes his management style.
“He’s never available to talk to,” says a member of the team. “Email is a thing…but it’s almost impossible to have a face-to-face conversation. He’s just too busy.”
It’s not just Jason’s team that feels that way; Her family often feels neglected. It’s not intentional, not enough time in the day. Work comes first, leading to lots of missed family dinners, soccer games, and dance recitals.
Recently, Jason had an epiphany. After some serious self-reflection, he realized he had a priceless gift that he needed to start sharing it with others.
Giving time to others is an easy way to get the most out of your relationships, which is a major advantage of emotional intelligence, the ability to understand and manage emotions. Let’s take a look at why time is more valuable than money, what the research has to say about gifting your time, and how doing so can help you experience greater happiness.
(If you find value in the “gift of time” theory, you might be interested in my emotional intelligence course, which includes 20 more rules to help you develop your emotional intelligence. Check out the course here.)
How Giving Your Time to Others Increases Happiness and Connectedness
Steve Jobs famously said, “The most precious resource we all have is time.” He was right, of course; There is always more money to make. But time is limited; Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
That’s why living with intention is so important when it comes to spending your time. In an age where everything is struggling to get your attention, it’s all too easy to spend time that you’ll regret later. Conversely, when you share your time with others, you make them feel valued. This leads to stronger, deeper relationships… which in turn leads to a greater sense of connectedness and happiness.
There is research to support this.
For example, research firm Gallup found that employees whose managers held regular meetings with them were nearly three times as likely to be engaged at work than their counterparts who did not have regular meetings. Employees who had daily communication with their managers were the most engaged.
But it’s one thing to answer emails; Showing personal interest is another matter. The Gallup study also showed that employees value communication not only about their roles and responsibilities, but also in their lives outside of work.
Of course, this type of investment takes time. But this time is well spent.
But what about our personal lives?
In a study conducted by psychologists at the University of Zurich, participants were assigned “the gift of time” to meet three people they cared about over the course of a week. (The gift should exceed the amount of time they typically spend with each person). When compared with another group who wrote about their memories in a daily journal, the “time givers” reported greater happiness. The longer he continued the practice, the more happiness he gave.
You can do the same thing.
This week, why don’t you plan the gift of your time? Just pick the person you want to spend some of your time with, and then make a plan to do something with that person that you normally wouldn’t.
- inviting someone out for a meal or even just for coffee
- A surprise trip, where you bring food or sweets to share
- taking your person for a walk in the park or garden
- A virtual call with an old friend you haven’t seen in a while
- Taking time off from work to spend the afternoon with your partner, child, other family member, or friend
Each of these gifts of time is relatively simple, but they are also extremely valuable, perhaps more than you think.
For one thing, whenever you share your time with others, you’re actually working to build a stronger, deeper connection.
But consider this too: You can hardly remember the time you spend alone–but you Doing Remember the time spent with others. Therefore, by simply sharing your time with others, you make an investment; You are creating memories for the future.
So, as you plan for the upcoming week, remember:
Time is the most precious resource you have. Spend it wisely. Because once it’s gone, you can never get it back.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.