Study: Time-Based Workers Less Happy

Do you manage your work day by time or task? The difference could influence your happiness.

A forthcoming paper in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology shows that employees who organize their work on a strict, clock-based schedule are less happy and feel as though they have less control of their lives than those who organize work days by task.

The research was reported in The Wall Street Journal Friday.

Through several experiments, the researchers found that people schedule their work activities in two days. One, called "clock time," is when workers organize tasks based on a clock. That is, they enter data into a spreadsheet from 10 am to 11 am and then have a meeting from 11 am to 12 am. In the other way, workers organize tasks based on completion. Someone may write a blog post until it's done, then email someone else about seeing if they could meet.

Although the researchers said people who organize work based on a clock are more efficient, they feel they have less control over their work day and therefore are less happy — mainly due to the fact that their day is controled by an external force, a clock.

This isn't to say that companies should get rid of clocks and schedules. Instead, the researchers suggest organizations align scheduling style to the type of work, such as when efficiency is more important than coming up with something creative.