Ep 113. Ashley Whillans: Combating Time Poverty
“Regardless of how much time people actually have, it is the feeling that they don’t have enough time that decreases happiness.”
Ashley Whillans is a former actress and now an assistant professor at Harvard Business School in the Negotiation, Organizations & Markets Unit. She studies how people navigate trade-offs between time and money and whether intangible incentives, such as experiential and time-saving rewards, affect employee motivation and well-being. In 2015 and 2018, she was named a Rising Star of Behavioral Science by the International Behavioral Exchange and the Behavioral Science and Policy Association. In 2016, she co-founded the Department of Behavioral Science in the Policy, Innovation, and Engagement Division of the British Columbia Public Service. Her research has been published in numerous academic journals and in a wonderful piece in the Harvard Business Review, Time for Happiness.
In this episode, Stew and Ashley discuss “time poverty” -- the subjective feeling of not having enough time to do the things we want or have to do, whether or not we objectively have enough time. They talk about the benefits of prioritizing time over money as well as the ways to overcome the psychological barriers that keep us from choosing to buy time-saving services that can reduce stress and bring greater happiness. Ashley talks about using “happiness dollars” to help us deliberately calculate how we spend our time and not just how we spend our money. And she details ways to avoid “time confetti,” the feeling that we’re doing too many things at once as we’re pulled in too many directions.