The Boston Globe had an article on How to make time expand this weekend. It talked about the known phenomenon of Time Famine, where people feel like they have too much to do and not enough time to do it all. Now researchers are discovering an opposite effect, Time Affluence, where people feel like they DO have enough time to do the things they want to do.
The sense I got from the article - particularly the Time Affluence discussion - is that these phenomena are feelings, rather than facts. These are about our perception of the situation, rather than about people having more or fewer things "to do." And the point of the research discussed in the article is that depending on what people do, their perceptions of time scarcity change.
Specifically, several studies have shown that just like perceptions around material wealth, people who donate their time to others perceive that they have more time to do things for themselves.
My take away from this is that when I am wrapped up in my own world - obsessed about getting everything done - I don't give myself the opportunity to step back and consider what is important and how my activities should be prioritized. One thing that giving to others requires is that I step away from myself for a while and consider how to help others with their needs. This focuses my own perceptions as well.
Half-baked thought: I wonder if there is a connection to collaboration too. Successful collaboration requires people to give up their "own" time to assist with a common goal. This means that people are finding the space to do that. It is both that the collaboration is a priority AND that the fact of helping one another creates more (mental) space to do other work. Interesting.
Fun aside: For some reason there was no discussion of Hermione Granger's Time Turner from Harry Potter, book 3 - pictured here.