The gift of time

Today’s author is Liz Sebag-Montefiore, 10Eighty’s Founding Director who has provided HR solutions to a wide range of industries since 2005,Liz Sebag-Montefiore
working with numerous firms to understand their needs and is a great believer in the power and intelligence of networking.

Every year we hear more about concerns that gift-giving during Christmas is too commercial. Seventy percent of respondents to an online survey of 13,576 people in 14 European countries in 2016 said that too much attention is put on spending during the Christmas period, 42% said they felt forced to spend more at Christmas, and 10% borrowed money to be able to afford the gifts.

Christmas is a good time to think about not just giving but about giving back. At 10Eighty we like to do our bit, we do an annual fun run, do some mentoring, and support a range of charities.

Your time is one of the most important things you can give anyone, from quality time with family to volunteering, it’s good to concentrate your efforts on something outside your own immediate concerns.

“What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal”, Albert Pine.

The greatest gift you give as a volunteer is your time. Whether you’re supporting people, volunteering in an organisation that works on conservation, or with animals; your time is what enables you to make a difference and enhance, or improve experiences for people and the organisation.


It is a win-win scenario, too – volunteering helps the giver:

  • develop skills and gain new skills; which may be part of supporting a change of career direction, developing a career or finding a new sense of purpose;
  • bridge the transition back into a work environment after a break or redundancy;
  • learn about yourself and your capabilities, and enhance self-confidence;
  • make new contacts and improve networking skills;

If you decide to volunteer, your reliability and commitment to the organisation is vital, they will be relying on you and expect you to take your responsibilities as an unpaid worker seriously. So be realistic about the contribution you can make alongside any existing work or personal commitments.

Finding time

A paper published in Psychological Science, shows that helping others can increase feelings of “time affluence” and alleviate perceived “time famine.” The research shows that spending time on others makes people feel like they have done a lot with their time – and the more they feel they have done with their time, the more time they will feel they have.

The researchers found that that doing brief “pro-social” tasks – such as helping edit an underprivileged child’s university application essay – consistently made people likelier to see their future time as plentiful. Spending time on themselves didn’t have the same effect; nor did being given a “time windfall”, by being allowed to leave the experiment unexpectedly early. Curiously, participants didn’t enjoy the volunteering the most; they preferred spending time on themselves. But only volunteering delivered a major boost in time affluence.

Christmas is a time for exchanging gifts, enjoying food and spending time with family but also a time to think about the many who are less fortunate and less able to celebrate, from those sleeping rough over the festive period to elderly people living alone.

Money saving expert Martin Lewis suggests that just being more considerate, is more in keeping with the spirit of winter festivals and that perhaps the real gift is to release someone from the obligation of buying you a present!

Image author: Kasia Koziatek

Posted in Wellbeing

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