In Step #1, we looked at how we should use both quantitative and qualitative elements to best balance and measure time. Today, in Step #2, we consider how circumstances affect our perception of time. We’ve all heard the saying, “Time flies when you’re having fun.” Well, that’s not 100% scientifically accurate…BUT…there is some truth in it, especially related to our perception of time. According to the experts, time seems to move a little faster when we are enjoying ourselves and are more focused on the details of our work; however, that same time seems to slow down considerably when we are anxious, unhappy or anticipating something. For example, spending a great afternoon at the beach seems to go by so quickly for me because I am enjoying the scenery and relaxing…but if I am waiting for a call back from the doctor with results of a medical test, then it seems time just stands still.
Marney Makridakis explains in her book about Creating Time, that “time moves faster when something else supersedes our inherent attention to time.” Therefore, for me – when I am more focused on relaxing and enjoying a vacation, time tends to move super fast…or when I am up against a hard deadline and I am so focused on the details of getting things completed, time slips away very quickly. So – how can we better manage these circumstances that affect our perception of time? It’s not easy. It may help to begin by simply making a list of those circumstances in the past where it seems time moved quickly for you…and a list of those events when time moved very slow. This will help you to better understand those moments and/or events that allow you to be more relaxed or focused, versus those times that you are overly anxious or full of anticipation. Then maybe you can take steps to grasp how you are viewing the use of your time each and every day.
Personally for me, when I take a road trip of any significant distance, it always seems that the travel time to get there is much longer than the travel time to return. This is because I am in a state of heightened anticipation when I am going, more-so than when I am returning. So, I look for things that will relax me or keep me focused – like listen to music or mentally plan out work items – so the drive doesn’t seem so long. Make your lists and consider those circumstances that impact your perception of time – then adjust it as you wish.