How to ‘slow down’ time

Although you may feel like there is never enough time, 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

A study published in the journal Psychological Science  suggests that when people volunteer their time to help other people, it makes them feel more competent and efficient, which makes time feel as though it is going by more slowly. 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

Surveys by author Laura Vanderkam1 found that people are prone to over- or under-estimate things based on socially desirable perceptions or current emotions.

“For instance, few of us love the routine aspects of housework,” she writes. “So if someone asks us how much time we spend on such things, we overestimate–by something on the order of 100 percent for both men and women–compared to the actual numbers recorded in time diaries. In fact, people are so bad at estimating how much time they spend doing things, that their overestimates can lead them to say that their weeks add up to 180 hours–or even more than 200 hours."

By writing down how you spend each hour of the day, you can figure out where there are opportunities to improve efficiency.

Change your attitude

Research professor Brené Brown <http://www.brenebrown.com> 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 as though you have more time is to boost your levels of ‘awe’. According to  a study by Stanford University and the University of Minnesota, joy and awe seems to offset the feeling that time is limited. This in turn boosts our feeling of life satisfaction and enhances our preference for experiences over material goods. Consider what new experiences or activities you could enjoy that may give you a feeling of awe.

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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