Want to Boost Happiness? Survey Suggests Stop Looking at the Clock

midnightTick tock goes the clock.

Want to be a happier, more productive worker? Stop looking at the clock.

As per a piece in The Wall Street Journal, new research shows folks who work in strict schedules based on the clock are less happy than colleagues who work in looser environments. Generally speaking, the former group feels like they have less control over their lives. 

One of the co-authors mentioned in the piece, “The way people schedule their tasks during the day can actually have more profound psychological consequences then just mere scheduling.”

Here’s the deal: People apparently schedule daily activities in one or two buckets. One of the ways, known as “clock time,” involve organizing tasks based on a clock. Need to work on a spreadsheet? Do that between 10 and 11 a.m., then run to a meeting from 11 until 11:30.

However, “event time,” is quite different. This consists of scheduling tasks based on their completion such as entering data into a spreadsheet until it’s absolutely finished. Next up? Email your colleague to see if he or she is available for a meeting.

Researchers discovered people who schedule tasks centered around a clock may be more efficient, but they ultimately feel a loss of control and flexibility. Makes sense, right? After all, their day is pretty much governed by the clock.

People on event time feel happier at work and also feel like they have more control over their schedules.

That said, researchers aren’t so fast to recommend companies ditch clocks altogether. Schedules are necessary to stay on track but they do recommend aligning a specific schedule style to the type of work.

For creative projects, researchers advocate working on event time. Build big blocks of time and allow workers to finish tasks once they’re done.  Especially when it comes to brainstorming, it’s important to throw a clock out the window.