How to ‘slow down’ time

Although you may feel like there is never enough time in the day, research suggests that we can make time feel like it is going more slowly, simply by changing our daily habits. Here are some ways to help you make the most of your time.

Give your time away

Surprisingly, it seems that the more time we spend helping other people, the more slowly time seems to pass. A study published in the journal of Psychological Science suggests that this is because volunteering makes us feel productive, so we may not consider it to be a ‘waste of time’ like we may if we are spending time on ourselves. Consider looking for volunteer opportunities in your local community, or put your hand up when family and friends need some extra support.

Track your time

Journalist and author Laura Vanderkam1 recommends writing down how you spend each hour of the day, so you can figure out where there are opportunities to improve efficiency. In her research, she found that people are likely to over- or under-estimate the time it takes to complete certain things, depending on how they feel about doing the task.

For example, some people over-estimated the time it took them to do housework or other routine chores by up to 100 percent, compared to the actual time recorded in their diary. Keeping track of your time with a diary or app may offer a more accurate reflection of how you spend your day.

Change your attitude

Research professor Brené Brown suggests that modern day culture has an attitude of scarcity, which is the problem of ‘never enough’. Whether it is safety, love, money or resources, we constantly spend time calculating how much we don’t have while comparing ourselves to others.

In her book ‘Daring Greatly2, she quotes author Lynne Twist, who writes: ‘For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is ‘I didn’t get enough sleep’. The next one is ‘I don’t have enough time’. Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it…And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds are racing with a litany of what we didn’t get, or didn’t get done, that day.’

According to Brené Brown, the opposite of scarcity isn’t abundance, but simply the attitude that we are and we have ‘enough’.

Experience awe

Another way to feel like you have more time is to experience awe. A study by Psychologists at Stanford and the University of Minnesota found that when people experience awe - such as viewing a sunrise or listening to a remarkable piece of music - their sense of time slowed down. This altered their decision-making, so they were more likely to try new experiences and felt more satisfied with life.

To increase your chances of encountering awe, consider what new experiences you can enjoy. This may be exploring a new area of the city, spending a weekend amongst nature, making an effort to meet new people, or putting yourself in new situations where your focus is on the present moment.

 

Are there times when you feel like time is moving more slowly? How do you make the most of your time?

 

References

[1] Vanderkam, L 2010, 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, Penguin Group, USA.

[2] Brown, B 2012, Daring greatly: how the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent and lead, Gotham Books, USA.

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