Is it possible to make time slow down? Do you find yourself thinking, “Where did the time go!”? You aren’t alone. As you get older, your perception of time changes. This change in perception is closely tied to how you spend your time.
In his 1890 work, The Principles of Psychology, William James, often considered the “Father of American Psychology,” noted that our perception of time changes as we age. James proposed that our youth, brimming with new experiences, gives a feeling of extended time. As we mature and our lives become more routine, this perception contracts, making time seem to speed up.
You probably remember the weeks when you were on vacation much more vividly than the rest of the year. Routines definitely help you get things done. But when you look back, you see the repeated actions as one memory, making you feel that time has contracted. But there are ways to change your perception of time so that you don’t feel like life is passing you by.
Here are ten possible strategies. Select the one that resonates most with you, integrate it into your daily routine, and evaluate if it effectively changes your perception of time.
1) ⏸️ Remember to pause and breathe.
You are likely busy every day, feeling that there isn’t enough time to do everything. You pack a lot of tasks and rush from one task to another. If you spend your time this way, time will fly by without you noticing.
Remember to pause and breathe. In my previous post, “How to Transform Your Life Positively with Pauses,” I listed various benefits and techniques for intentionally taking time throughout your day. Use some of the techniques to pause and appreciate what you have now.
2) 🎯 Do one thing at a time.
When you feel short on time, you tend to multitask. But if you multitask all day long, you feel frazzled instead of satisfied at the end of the day. You feel like that day just flew by. As I wrote in my previous post, “How To Be Calm: Do One Thing At A Time,” try to do one thing at a time. If you do that, you can slow down, feel calm, and appreciate the time you have now.
3) 🔄 Break your routine.
You probably spend a lot of time on auto-pilot every day. You get dressed, eat breakfast, and get to work without any thought. You may feel like you’re in the movie, Groundhog Day. When you repeat the same thing over and over again, your brain consolidates the repeated action into one memory.
Add variety to your routine occasionally. Take a different route for your commute or walk. Try a different restaurant or cook something different. Keep an open mind and say “Yes” to new opportunities instead of closing your mind.
4) 😄 Find amusement in the mundane.
You can’t always break up your routine. You might not have that much flexibility at work. Even in a restricted situation, you can get curious and “notice” things happening around you. In my previous post, “How to Find Amusement in the Mundane of Everyday,” I shared some techniques. Use some of these techniques and find interest and beauty in unexpected places.
5) 🌟 Develop an “autotelic” personality.
As I wrote in another post, “How to Transform Stress to Your Advantage,” “autotelic” means having a purpose in and not apart from itself. For example, if you dance just to dance, you can say that dance is an autotelic experience.
As you know by now, life isn’t always made up of happy and exciting moments. There are things you wish you could avoid, but you can’t. Examples include boring meetings, daunting tasks, or dealing with stressful colleagues. If you can’t avoid them, instead of wishing them away, create self-contained goals for yourself. You have the ability to find purpose, enjoyment, and reward no matter what your external circumstances are.
6) ⏰ Pay attention to how you spend your leisure time.
On average, you spend a third of your time at work, a third on maintenance, and a third on leisure. In my previous post, “How to Improve the Quality of Your Life,” I wrote that the quality of your life depends on how you spend your time every day.
Pay close attention to how you spend your leisure time. You might think that since you earned it by working hard, you deserve to spend it any way you want. Yes, you earned it. So spend your leisure time on something meaningful for you. Spend it on something you enjoy. Don’t mindlessly waste what you have earned.
7) 🌱 Learn something new.
Learning something new definitely brings novel experiences into your life. As I wrote in my previous post, “The Joy of Learning Something New,” adults tend to hesitate to learn something new. But anybody who has tried it knows that learning something new can bring tremendous joy into your life, no matter how old you are.
Do you have something you always wanted to learn, but never tried? Guitar? Painting? Dance? What is stopping you from trying?
Maybe your thinking goes like this: If I start now, how old do you think I will be by the time I get good at it? The answer is, the same age you’ll be if you don’t start.
So why don’t you start now? Pick up an instrument, paintbrush, or dance shoes and see how much joy they will bring to your life.
8) 📓 Keep a journal.
Your brain can’t keep a record of all your experiences, but your journal can. Take time every day to jot down a few thoughts, feelings, and memories. In my previous post, “How to Use Journaling to Enrich Your Life,” I shared some techniques. Give yourself the gift of slowing down every day and recording a treasure trove of thoughts and memories for your future.
9)🧘♀️Learn to do nothing.
Have you ever tried to learn to do nothing? It’s actually hard. Especially in our attention-grabbing society, it’s so painful to do nothing. When you have a few minutes to do nothing, you automatically grab your phone and scroll through endless screens. You just can’t endure the pain of doing nothing.
If you try to sit quietly to meditate, your mind doesn’t leave you alone. You will be in a constant battle between the urge to think about something and the urge to quiet your mind. Carve out some time every day just to “be.” It’s challenging, but it’s a worthwhile practice that can help you feel that time is slowing down.
10)🏃🏻♂️ Don’t rush to the end.
Whenever you feel like you need to rush somewhere, ask yourself, where are you rushing to?
When this journey is over, you are dead. Take as many detours as you can and enjoy the many twists and turns that life offers. Don’t sleepwalk through life. Open your eyes, breathe fresh air, and embrace the beauty this life gives to you.
Do This Now:
From these ten possible strategies, select the one that resonates most with you, integrate it into your daily routine, and evaluate if it effectively changes your perception of time.
- ⏸️Remember to pause and breathe.
- 🎯 Do one thing at a time.
- 🔄 Break your routine.
- 😄 Find amusement in the mundane.
- 🌟 Develop an “autotelic” personality.
- ⏰ Pay attention to how you spend your leisure time.
- 🌱 Learn something new.
- 📓 Keep a journal.
- 🧘♀️Learn to do nothing.
- 🏃🏻♂️Don’t rush to the end.
Cherish each moment, embrace new experiences, and find joy in the small things. As you begin to live more mindfully, you’ll likely find that life becomes richer and more fulfilling, and that the passage of time doesn’t seem to slip away as quickly.