January 8, 2016

Weatherhead Student Experience: Give time to make time

The following blog post is brought to you by Weatherhead's Student Experience Office, which is here to assist students with finding opportunities for experiences outside of the classroom that will complement the holistic learning environment of Weatherhead. Learn more.

Not getting enough done at school? Try doing for others.

We all know that volunteering can help you build your resume and make valuable connections in your job search, as well as having a positive impact on your community and your world. Still, many of our Weatherhead students feel that they simply do not have time to volunteer, given their busy schedules. Believe it or not, donating your time and effort actually creates productive time in your schedule!

In 2012, Cassie Mogilner of the Wharton School published a study in the Harvard Business Review on the psychological effect of volunteering time. The study assigned some subjects participation in a people-oriented, helping task while others were assigned a meaningless activity. The subjects who spent time engaging in meaningful, helpful tasks were more likely to feel they had time to spare. Why is this?

Mogilner and her co-authors concluded that subjects engaged in helpful tasks felt capable, confident and useful; because they accomplished something, they felt they could accomplish more.

In an interview by the Harvard Business Review, Mogilner was asked if subjects would be better served simply using that time to do more work. Her reply? Procrastinating is inevitable. When we engage in difficult, complicated activities (such as the rigorous coursework at Weatherhead!) the mind needs a break. Often these breaks consist of fiddling with our phone, scrolling through social media or playing an online game. Taking breaks to play Candy Crush or scroll through the Instagram of your crush from middle school is less likely to make you feel accomplished than taking an hour or two to work at a food bank.

According to Mogilner it is all about feeling and perception. We all have the same number of hours in the day but some of us feel more motivated and capable than others. Motivation and engagement lend themselves to productivity; discouragement and dissatisfaction do not. By engaging in activities that make us feel better about our ability to accomplish things, we create more useful time.

Use those breaks you need and are going to take anyhow and direct them toward an activity that makes you a better student in the end.

Starting in February, Student Experience will be offering community service opportunities with accompanying faculty members once a month for any graduate student interested. Feel free to get in touch with Alexis Hayman to learn more or keep an eye on the Weatherhead events calendar, video screens and WeatherheadsUp for more information.

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