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Best Not to Treat Time as Money

Best Not to Treat Time as MoneyNew research suggests the way we view our “free time” may impact how happy we are.

Canadian researchers discovered people who put a price on their time are more likely to feel impatient when they’re not using it to earn money. Moreover, this perception appears to hurt individuals’ ability to derive happiness during leisure activities.

“Treating time as money can actually undermine your well-being,” said Sanford DeVoe, Ph.D., lead author of the study. DeVoe and Ph.D. student Julian House based their conclusions on three experiments.

In each, a sub-group of participants was prepared, through survey questions, to think about their time in terms of money.

In turn, the time-is-money orientation influenced the way in which the group responded to relaxation opportunities. Specifically, this group showed greater impatience and lower satisfaction during leisure activities introduced during the experiments.

However, those put into the sub-group reported more enjoyment and less impatience when they were paid during one of those activities, which was listening to music.

The experiments’ results demonstrate that thinking about time in terms of money “changes the way you actually experience time,” said DeVoe. “Two people may experience the same thing, over the same amount of time, yet react to it very differently.”

Researchers believe the findings are important given societal pressures toward productivity and reimbursement. Devoe believes the growth over the last several decades in jobs paid by the hour has detrimentally influenced the ability to relax.

It’s important for people to be “mindful” of the impact this can have on their leisure enjoyment, he said, and allow themselves “to really smell the roses.”

Source: University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management

Money and time photo by shutterstock.

Best Not to Treat Time as Money

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Best Not to Treat Time as Money. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 21, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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