12 ways to slow time & get more hours out of the day
It’s a cliche to say that time speeds up as we get older but it’s true. Time is going faster and faster as I age, particularly since I had a child, a.k.a. the “Marker of My Mortality.” This is disturbing for many reasons, not least because I haven’t reached where I want to be in my career (Commanding an empire) and it feels like time is running out.
Thank goodness people are saying 40 is the new 20 (phew). Still, I’ve been trying to figure out how to stretch time for a while now, and I’m sure I’m not the only one looking for ways to slow the clock, and also to get more hours in a day so I can accomplish more.
A few years ago I put the question of how to slow time to Steve Taylor, a psychologist and author of Making Time: Why Time Seems To Pass At Different Speeds And How To Control It. He told me:
- “The speed of time is determined by how many impressions and perceptions the mind takes in – the more impressions, the slower time goes. The mind has a kind of desensitizing mechanism that switches off our attention to experiences that we’re more often exposed to. If we know that familiarity makes time pass faster, then we can slow down time by exposing ourselves to as much new experience as possible. Also, make a conscious effort to be mindful. This stretches time in exactly the same way that new experience does. Because we give more attention to our experience, we take in more impressions. In normal absorption, time goes quickly, but if you become absorbed to an intense degree, you can experience a massive slowing of time.”
Seeking out new experience can be as complicated as quitting your job to travel the world, or as simple as varying your walk to work so that the scenery is different.
Pack more things into your day. You know how when you’re travelling, and you go to five different places in a day and move from one city to another, by the time you go to bed, breakfast seems like a lifetime ago? That’s because your brain stops paying attention when you do the same mundane things all the time but perks up when it has something new to focus on.
On the more practical side, here are 11 productivity hacks, several of which will also have the added benefit of changing up your dull routine so that your brain starts paying attention. These tips – many of which can be found in this Inc article by Larry Kim, and some of which should be obvious – should allow you to get more done in less time so you can find more hours in a day.
Turn off the TV. Yes, this goes for Netflix and whatever else you’re watching too. Sorry. You don’t need to keep up with the Kardashians. Really.
Limit social media time. Stop scrolling through Facebook and creeping your ex’s photos. Just stop. Try checking your social media at designated times during the day. You won’t miss anything. (Note: of you’re using social, like Twitter, to build your brand, this means finding a balance. Not shutting it off entirely and not spending hours staring at it.)
Turn off notifications. Kim writes, “Trust me, you’ll see efficiency skyrocket once you tell your phone to shut its blabbering mouth.”
Get up earlier. Even if it’s just a half an hour. Use that time to get something done.
Exercise in the morning. Get it out of the way so it’s not hanging over your head. You’ll have more energy and the sense of accomplishment will spill over, making it easier to efficiently tackle other tasks.
Use your commute. I read all my news alerts on my 45 minute walk to work. I probably shouldn’t recommend you do this since it might not be the safest thing to do, but I find it to be a good use of my time. I also listen to business and industry podcasts.
Take regular breaks. According to a 2014 study of employee productivity, the 10% of employees with the highest productivity didn’t put in longer hours than anyone else. In fact, they took regular 17-minute breaks for every 52 minutes of work.
Schedule everything. This idea comes from Cal Newport, a computer science professor and productivity blogger, who says, “Scheduling forces you to confront the reality of how much time you actually have and how long things will take. Now that you look at the whole picture you’re able to get something productive out of every free hour you have in your workday.”
Get the worst task out of the way first. If your to-do list includes doing your taxes, washing dishes, and playing with bunny rabbits, do the most unpleasant thing first. For most people, this would probably go:
You’ll move faster because you want to get the unpleasant tasks out of the way and get to the fun stuff.
Follow the two-minute rule: If it takes less than two minutes, do it now. James Clear writes on the Huffington Post, “It’s surprising how many things we put off that we could get done in two minutes or less. For example, washing your dishes immediately after your meal, tossing the laundry in the washing machine, taking out the garbage, cleaning up clutter, sending that email, and so on.”
Use available productivity tools. I don’t use enough of these. I know there’s Evernote for keeping track of things you want to remember, while Mailbox will supposedly get your inbox down to zero, and Goodreader will read virtually any file – which is awesome since I’m always struggling to read files on my phone. Humin, meanwhile, will remember people for you. Figure out which apps are useful to you and use them.
Got a time saving idea to share? Let us know!