We live in a world that keeps demanding we dedicate our time to different tasks. Many of these tasks are repetitive and don’t seem worthy of our attention. Hence, time seems to fly by, and a lot of people feel like they’re stuck in a loop. This is why a lot of us would like to slow time down.
We’re all aware that this is impossible. However, there are some things you can do to change your perception of the time spent on different tasks. They all rely on the basic premise of understanding your own sense of time.
In other words, the speed with which time goes by is subjective. This is the factor that makes time go by so quickly and stresses us out. On the other hand, it allows us to have a sense of control over it. Here are some tips you can use to slow down your perception of time. Hopefully, some of them will help you avoid stress and get more joy from the small things.
Why Does Time Fly by?
As we have previously stated, time is objectively always passing at the exact same pace. A minute is a minute, no matter what you’re doing. Yet, a minute doing a tedious task can seem like fifteen minutes. On the other hand, if you’re experiencing crunch time at work, the hours seem to pass by in a heartbeat.
Many studies show that time slows down when we are aware of what we’re doing. This self-awareness is a key element of an objective (or at least more accurate) perception of time’s passage.
There are other factors that impact our understanding of time. Our mood and physical well-being, as well as substances like alcohol, can affect it, for example.
Ways to Slow Down Time
1. Practice mindfulness
This is one of the most common tips when it comes to slowing down time. Additionally, many people with anxiety-related problems will hear this piece of advice when dealing with stressful situations. The technique is often used to calm down a person experiencing a panic attack. However, anyone can use these exercises to help themselves observe time more objectively.
Mindfulness is a state in which we are fully aware of our state. When it comes to work, it can manifest through being “in the zone”, or, in other words, focusing on a specific task. In other situations, though, it represents understanding where you are, what you’re doing, and feeling.
It is an interesting exercise to take a minute or two and focus on all stimuli you’re experiencing. Here are some examples
· Are you comfortable in your position?
· Is the temperature too hot, cold, humid, etc?
· Are you stressed or otherwise uncomfortable?
· Are you grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw? (you’d be surprised by how common this is)
Noticing these small things and making adjustments to make yourself more comfortable is a great way to get out of the stress-induced loops. Simply put, your brain becomes aware that there’s no immediate danger. Additionally, this small break will re-energize you and give you a realistic sense of time.
2. Track Your Time
Keeping track of your daily activities can help you understand your time. This is especially important for our work. If you are dealing with a lot of tasks on a daily basis, they tend to all melt into a single block. This accumulative time makes people forget the specifics of their day, which can make each day seem identical.
Differentiating between different activities will also give you a more realistic impression of your productivity and efficiency. These factors are important, as they give our work some weight and make us proud of what we’ve done.
Additionally, using a time tracking software solution will also prevent you from forgetting any billable hours. This will give additional weight to your work. Finally, you will be able to evaluate the time specific tasks take and plan your days more efficiently.
3. Focus on the Small Things
When we’re very young our days (and especially summers) seem to go on forever. Even the smallest new experiences are exciting and fill us with wonder. However, as we experience more of the world, there are fewer and fewer new things to appreciate.
Hobbyists can have a similar sense of excitement when facing the object of their hobby by accident. If it ever happened to you, you are probably aware of the time slowing down.
Not all of us have hobbies or the time for them. So, how can we recreate the feeling of time slowing down?
The answer is very similar to our first tip. Mindfulness, as we’ve described it, means focusing on your body. Yet, you can also focus on your surroundings to create the same effect.
The first way to do this is to focus on a specific object near you and take it in. Observe its shape, color, and any other interesting qualities. This approach takes the idiom “stop to smell the roses” literally.
On the other hand, if you can’t find an object to appreciate, you can focus on the mundane. List a few things you see, hear, smell, etc. this is sure to anchor you at the moment as well.
4. Change Your Routine
The similarities between our days are a huge factor in our distorted sense of time. If each day seems the same, it is very difficult to notice the differences between them.
However, you can start doing things a little differently. Introducing small changes to your routine is sure to make you differentiate your days. For example, you can start taking a different route to your office. This way, you will break the pattern you’ve trapped yourself in.
You’ll have the opportunity to observe and experience new things once you start exploring more. This doesn’t only apply to your route. Moreover, it can be anything you’ve gotten bored of. Change the place you eat at. Paint your room a different color. Read a book on a subject or in a genre you usually wouldn’t. Find new passions and go through with them.
5. Change your surroundings
Doing the same tasks from the same place gives us a sense of security and consistency. Yet, it also makes those activities fly by. Sometimes, you can slow down time simply by moving a few feet.
This option is especially convenient for students. Studying in different places on different days can make you more focused. This, in turn, will slow your time down. For example, you can study in the local park one day, in the library the next, and from your home or dorm on the third.
However, if you are working your bosses may not allow you to change seats frequently. This is understandable to an extent. After all, you will be disrupting other peoples’ routines/ yet, if you can, try to switch seats when someone isn’t at the office and see whether it helps you make the time go slower.
6. Discover Your Distractions
Like Icarus, sometimes we create our own misfortune. Numerous distractions we face during the day can take away a large amount of our time without us even noticing. This is especially prominent if you have to sit in front of a computer for hours upon hours.
Namely, different social media platforms, as well as news websites, are designed to eat up our time. They have been carefully designed to keep us scrolling for as long as possible without realizing just how much time we’re wasting.
Of course, there can be other distractions that take up our time. The examples are endless, but the result is always the same – we spend time away from our tasks and feel like our work day has ended way too early.
A time audit can help you discover exactly what your weaknesses are. However, you will have to be absolutely honest while conducting the audit.
Once you find out where your time goes, you can use different distraction blocking techniques and tools to help you stay on track.
7. Automate menial tasks
Let’s face it, there are many daily tasks we do that feel like a waste of time. They can be related to administration, phone calls, email replies, communicating with clients, etc. And, they are some of the greatest obstacles to effective time management.
If there is an app or technique that will allow you to automate these tasks – use it! Your time is your (and your company’s) most valuable resource. So, if you can save some time and dedicate it to more important matters – don’t be afraid to do so!
Time tracking itself can take a lot of time, which is a paradox many are aware of. Hence, choose a time tracking tool that allows you to track time effortlessly and accurately.
Some tasks need to be done personally. If you feel like they take up a lot of your time, you can block an amount of time each day to complete them. This often means replying to your emails and making phone calls at the start or end of your work day.
8. Don’t multitask
Multitasking is often considered a great skill for the business. Yet, our expectations of it and the reality can be quite different.
Namely, in an ideal world, we can switch from one task to another in a matter of seconds. Then, we can continue with the same efficiency. And back and forth it goes. Yet, in reality, it’s a lot different.
Switching from one task to another requires us to stop what we’re doing. This often means being abrupt and breaking our train of thought. Then we have to focus on the other task(s) and be efficient at them.
To put it plainly – multitasking takes more time than doing your tasks one by one. Sometimes priorities change. There may be a time when you need to switch from one task to another. However, focusing on a single thing at a time makes it easier to finish it. This is one of the time management basics.
Multitasking will have you spend more time on the same amount of work. In other words, you’ll get the impression that time is passing by more quickly than it objectively is.
9. Slow Down When Facing an Obstacle
No one is immediately perfect when obtaining new skills. Yet, this doesn’t make our shortcomings any less frustrating. So, we often try and try, and then feel frustrated when there are no visible results while our day has flown by.
There’s no universal solution for learning quickly. However, you can observe your work and see which parts of the process are giving you the most trouble. This is the first step in the right direction.
Once you understand what you don’t understand, you can take a step back. Then, take the time to see why these steps are so difficult for you. Don’t get frustrated with yourself. Rather, be patient and calm. If the issue is very difficult don’t be afraid to ask a coworker or mentor for help. However, it is possible the solution will appear on its own if you aren’t in a haste.
10. Use Distraction Blocking Tools
There are a plethora of different distraction blocking tools available. These apps usually block access to distracting apps and programs. Some of them also monitor the titles of the documents you are using. Finally, some are practically impossible to cheat and won’t allow you to unblock the programs and websites even if you uninstall the tool.
That is to say, you need to be careful when using these tools. Even the most useful ones can turn into a nightmare. On the other hand, the more lenient ones can be circumnavigated, and thus, made obsolete.
11. Get out of Your Comfort Zone
Facing new experiences can help you get a more realistic image of your time. Especially so if the experience is related to something that scares us.
Of course, we don’t recommend doing anything where you can get injured. Fortunately, even watching a horror movie can scare us enough to make the time go by slower.
If you get flustered when meeting new people, try going to places where you’ll be expected to introduce yourself. This is a great way to overcome your anxiety. Still, make sure the situation is controlled and you can get out if you get too overwhelmed.
Journaling is a popular pastime for many people. Yet, it can be used as a great tool to help you focus on the here and now. It gives you the opportunity to remember how your day went.
This is a great way to slow down time. Namely, you will need to remember things that happened on a particular day. This will improve your sense of time. Additionally, you will have physical evidence of the things that happen to you. These reminders are great if all your days start to feel the same. The reason for this is that you’ll have a written reminder of how you used to think and work you can compare to your current state.
Journaling is a fun activity that doesn’t require much to start going. A simple notebook and pen are enough. However, many people enjoy the process of designing pages for their journals, using stickers, learning calligraphy, and creating different-themed layouts.
In other words, the process of journaling itself can be a method that will help you slow down time.
Meditation is a great way to slow down time for yourself. The activity can seem fairly simple, but it actually takes some time to become proficient in it.
Namely, meditation requires an empty mind. Firstly, you should sit in a comfortable position (we don’t recommend lying down, as you’re likely to fall asleep). Secondly, you should focus on a single thing. Most experts agree your own breath should be the focus.
This is a good method, as breathing is constant and has a repetitive rhythm. Focus on the air coming in through your nose. Feel it fill your lungs and the way your chest expands when you breathe in.
It has been scientifically proven that you can get as much rest from meditating as you can from sleep. That is to say, you will be able to rest while being aware of the time passing by. This type of refreshment is a small and free luxury you can give yourself each day.
Meditation is difficult for beginners, as you will need to actively not think about anything. This is a hurdle for most people. So, don’t get discouraged if you catch yourself worrying about that report you need to finish. Once you do, though, you should refocus on your breathing. The more you practice, the easier it will become.
We also need to mention that there are many free guided meditation audio tracks that can help you in the beginning as well.
14. Enjoy the process
It is difficult not to be goal-oriented nowadays. The people we associate with success – entrepreneurs, inventors, CEOs, etc. almost always praise this mindset. And we don’t disagree. Yet, if you are motivated by goals and goals only, everything between them becomes unimportant and mundane.
You can guess where this is going – mundane and unimportant things make our time go by so quickly. Hence, goal-oriented people can get bored, or go into auto-pilot. This can seem okay, but after a while, their time will seem to go by too quickly with victories (aka met goals) few and far between.
The way you see your work can be extremely warped if you don’t let yourself enjoy the small everyday things. For example, a coffee break with coworkers can be a fun and relaxing experience that allows you to let out some steam. Work doesn’t need to be completely enjoyable. Moreover, you will probably get tired of your everyday tasks. however, small moments of humor and interaction can help you get a more realistic idea about your time.
15. Be aware of your progress
This piece of advice can be applied to any situation. However, work is the most obvious one. Take the time to check in with yourself and see how far you’ve come since beginning to work in your field. Have you become more self-reliant, or faster with your tasks?
Make sure to celebrate these milestones. Even if it’s just congratulating yourself. The most important thing is to be aware of the things you’ve learned along the way. This will put the time you spend at work into perspective. This, in turn, will make it worthwhile, as you’ll see the difference between Before and After clearly.
You should apply this method to other things as well. See how much progress you’ve made with your hobbies, fitness goals, reading challenges, or any other area you want to improve at.
Losing track of time is a common consequence of similar daily routines. That isn’t to say that having a routine is a bad thing. However, if your days become too similar, you will slowly lose enthusiasm. Obligations will start to pile up and you’ll feel like there’s never enough time for your tasks. These are often symptoms of burnout as well.
Hence, you should do something to break the rut. Small joys, mindfulness, and observing yourself and your work from a different perspective are all great ideas. Hopefully, you’ve found a good way to slow down time in our list. Now, you can apply it to your daily routine and modify it to suit your personality and habits as well as possible.
FREE 14-day trial – no credit card required