Sometimes, time seems to drag on and on.
Maybe it’s a rough day at work that just won’t end.
Perhaps it’s waiting to hear back about a job interview or some eventful news that is supposed to be coming.
Sometimes, you just want to make your time pass faster so you can get to where you need to be going!
How do you make the time pass faster… psychologically speaking?
1. Stop looking at the clock and counting the minutes.
The most effective way to make time pass faster is to stop monitoring the clock altogether and focus on something else entirely.
That may be diving into your work without distraction, losing yourself in entertainment for a while, or just grinding through whatever is in front of you.
If you don’t have something to do, look for something!
Ask the people (or your boss) if there is anything else you can do or help out with.
Work on a side project if there isn’t anything imperative in front of you.
Develop a new skill or pick up a hobby that will give you something to focus your time and energy on.
Whatever it takes, the most important thing is to stop paying attention to the clock. The more you look at it, the longer it’s going to feel like it’s dragging on.
Just do something – anything other than spending your time looking at the clock!
2. Separate your time into blocks.
A day can drag, an hour can drag, even a minute can seem to go on and on.
But if you create short blocks of time to focus on, it can help speed up the passing of the whole period.
Split your time up into five or ten minute blocks. Then spend alternate blocks either engrossing yourself fully in the task at hand or working at a more leisurely pace.
When fully focused on something, time tends to go by quickly.
But it’s difficult to maintain concentration for long periods, particularly if the task you’re doing isn’t that interesting or difficult.
But by giving yourself an in-between stage where you can let your focus drift a bit, you allow your ability to concentrate to “recharge” ready to go again.
You essentially dip in and out of a flow state where you get lost in the present moment.
3. Break up your duties.
The monotony of work that we must repeat can feel overwhelming.
Building on the previous point, breaking up that work with other activities can offer something to look forward to.
Physical activity, exercise, and going outdoors are all good ways to help find some rejuvenation while you’re pushing through some tedious work.
The activity doesn’t need to be long or strenuous.
Even a five minute office workout or a breath of fresh air can help rejuvenate you by getting the blood flowing, more oxygen to the brain, and a brief rush of endorphins.
This is particularly helpful for people who have a sedentary job or lifestyle.
It’s well known that a lack of activity can fuel depression and lethargy which make it much harder to work your way through the slow times.
4. Immerse yourself in a good book.
When was the last time you sat down with a good book and lost yourself in the author’s words?
The art of reading books has been on the decline since the advent of television and is only getting worse in the digital age.
The attention that people used to give to reading is now fragmented even more with streaming, digital writing, digital art, and instant access videos.
Putting away your electronics and devoting your time and attention to a good book provides other benefits beyond just passing the time quickly…
…reading helps with memory and concentration, helps you flex the parts of your brain that facilitate learning and comprehension, expands your vocabulary, and provides stress relief.
5. Develop a To Do list for your processes and goals.
Time can drag on when it doesn’t feel like we are making reasonable progress toward the goals that we set for ourselves.
A To Do list or general plan to get through your jobs for the day can give you the small burst of satisfaction that comes from ticking an accomplished goal off of your list.
And rather than spending your time trying to figure out what to do next, you can jump straight into your next goal and keep grinding away.
A thought out plan of action provides structure that can help you more easily navigate your day and lets you track your progress.
You will also start to get a feel for how long certain activities take when you are keeping track, which helps in future projections and managing your time wisely, including using your time efficiently.
6. Listen to music, videos, or podcasts while you work.
Audio can help the time pass quicker when you’re engaged in work that doesn’t require a lot of attention or mental energy.
Cleaning and chores are much less tedious when they are paired with some upbeat, energetic music.
Instrumental music can also help you focus and concentrate by eliminating outside audible distractions when you are engaged in more focused work, like studying or homework.
Audio books and podcasts are a great way to pass the time, learn, or entertain yourself while commuting or doing repetitive, mindless work.
The distraction lets you sink yourself into the audio while you zone out and get into the flow of whatever task is in front of you which makes the job easier and the time pass faster.
7. Tackle the undesirable duties that you’ve been putting off.
There are so many duties that are just tedious and annoying in our personal and professional lives.
Knocking those undesirable duties out is a good way to pass the time while making progress in your life.
Not many people generally want to deep clean their home or re-file all of that paperwork that got misplaced, but it should be done one way or another.
Tackle those duties! Dive right in and look for a fast, efficient way to get through them so you can move on to other things.
The best part of getting undesirable duties out of the way is that you no longer have the additional stress and anxiety of needing to do them hanging over your head.
You can heave a sigh of relief that they are already done and move on to more interesting things.
8. Look for fun wherever you can find it.
It’s an old saying that reflects the perception that time moves quicker when we are taking part in fun activities.
Of course, a lot of activities that you need to do won’t necessarily be fun. But, if you can find a way to create some fun for yourself in the moment, it will help speed up the passage of time.
That could be something simple like racing yourself to finish work duties in a more efficient way than you did before.
Socialization can add an element of fun to otherwise unfun activities.
Even if you don’t necessarily know or like the people around you, some degree of polite socialization and interaction can help the minutes tick by that little bit faster.
Plus, it’s never a bad idea to foster positive relationships with the people you’re going to spend a great deal of time around. It helps everything run in a smoother way.
9. Challenge your mind with mental activities.
Sometimes you just don’t have the option to read a book, listen to music, go outdoors, or do much at all other than sit/stand idly.
There are many truly tedious jobs, vital though they might be. Perhaps you are a security guard in a convenience store. Or maybe you sit in a toll booth all day.
While you have to retain some level of concentration, much of the time you are either doing nothing at all or tasks that you can do on autopilot.
So give your mind something to do. Take a moderately long word (like ‘moderately’) and try to spell it backwards (it’s surprisingly difficult).
Or play the A to Z game in your head where you give yourself a topic – such as boys names – and you have to come up with an answer for each letter of the alphabet.
Or multiply 23 by 42 (or other random numbers).
Or list the names of past and present players in your favorite sports team or all the movies that a certain actor has appeared in.
There are endless ways to occupy an otherwise empty mind, even if just to kill five minutes here and there.
10. Learn something.
Learning something new engages your brain in a way that few others things can match. And the beauty of learning is that there is a virtually limitless amount of things to learn.
Think about something that interests you. Then find ways to learn more about it. This could involve reading books, watching videos, using study apps, enrolling in online courses (there are free and paid courses for all sorts of things).
Even if you’re looking to pass time at a job where you can’t use your phone or read a book, you could always write down ten phrases in a foreign language on a piece of paper and look at it occasionally as you try to memorize those phrases.
Learning is a challenge. It helps you enter a flow state of concentration where time fly by.
What should you write? Well, anything really. Here are a few mediums you might want to consider.
Share your knowledge with the world by writing articles to publish on a website. It’s so easy to start a website these days, taking just minutes to get up and running (Medium.com is a good place to start).
You can write about whatever you like. Write about a passion – sports, politics, gardening perhaps. Write instructions for how to do something. Share your opinions on things. Don’t focus on how many people read the articles; just write them for you and consider any readers as a bonus.
If you want to write about more personal things – your thoughts and feelings for instance – you should get yourself a physical journal to write in. No one needs to see what you write, so you are free to pour your heart and soul out if you need to.
Emptying your mind into a journal also happens to be a good way to get your mind off something that is worrying you, and it helps to organize your thoughts so that you can make better sense of them.
Even if you’ve never read a poem in your life, you’d be surprised just how fun, interesting, and challenging it can be to get the right words together in the right way to make a poem that flows. Try it out and see if you like it.
If you’ve got a little more time on your hands, you could always write your own stories. Think of a plot, come up with some characters, figure out what they might say to each other or what their personalities are like. If you have any children, why not write short stories for them – they don’t have to be long or complicated.
Regardless of whether you think you have good sense of humor, you could try your hand at writing jokes, or comedy sketches. Whether you go for short one-liners, or more elaborate setups with stories that lead to punch lines, it doesn’t much matter. You can try them out on your friends too as an added bonus.
If you love listening to music, you’ll know the power of good lyrics to transport you mentally and emotionally to some place else. Well, you could transport yourself away from whatever boring thing you’re doing by penning your own verses and choruses.
Another creative pursuit that can help to pass the time is to draw or paint. Maybe you already like to doodle, but you can take that further and try to hone your skills and push your artistic boundaries.
Try different mediums: pencils, watercolors, oils. Try different styles: still life, cubism, surrealism, portraits, landscapes. Try different things to draw or paint on: canvas, paper, pottery, or even directly onto an outside wall (or inside if you’re feeling daring).
13. Do something with your hands.
Aside from painting or drawing, there are lots of ways that you can keep your hands busy whilst simultaneously passing the time. You could bake, work in the garden, sculpt out of clay, build out of wood or some other material, knit, sew, or do any other sort of craft that involves using your hands.
Working with your hands on a creative project to stay busy is something that people have been doing for as long as people have had hands!
14. Perform some growth admin.
When you’ve got time on your hands – either because you’ve got nothing to do or because your job requires little in the way of conscious focus, you have the opportunity to engage in a little admin. Not your usual life admin such as paying bills or planning meals, but personal growth admin.
What are your strengths and weaknesses in general? What are your good points and bad points as a person? What skills, mental traits, or behaviors would you like to work on? What kind of person do you want to be?
What about your life? What is going well? What could use some work? And what do you want to change? Do you like where you live? Is your job/career something you want to change? Which relationships serve you, and which do you need to prune?
These sorts of questions are not always simple to answer, but this is what makes them so great at eating up the time. You can spend hours thinking about these things, considering all the different angles, deciding what your priorities should be.
15. Be entrepreneurial.
Developing a business mindset can lead to all sorts of engaging and even exciting opportunities. Why? Because there’s often a lot of different challenges involved which means things to keep your mind occupied and results to work toward.
If you have a job, you could look for ways to show some initiative. Are there processes that could run more smoothly? Do you have ways to cut down costs or generate more sales? What about big ideas that might drive the company forward? Making suggestions to your superiors might mean you get to be involved in making those things happen, which could mean a more exciting work day.
Have you considered starting up a side hustle? It’s not for everyone and you shouldn’t push yourself too hard or you’ll risk burning out. But a little business on the side can give you something to think about when you’re at your regular job and something to look forward to.
Or is there a business idea that you’d like to turn into a full time operation? Well, if you have time to think and time to get bored, you’ve got time to work on the ins and outs of that business with a view to turning it into a reality in the future.
Meditation is not only useful to calm your body and mind; it can help to pass the time too.
When you meditate, you focus on something – your breathing, your senses, an object, a mantra – and this helps to take away all other thoughts. New thoughts may come, but they should hopefully go without too much trouble as you return to whatever you are focusing on.
And when you aren’t thinking about how slowly time seems to be passing or about how bored you are, you’ll be surprised how quickly the minutes go by.
If you can’t sit and close your eyes to meditate, there is such as thing as open-eyed meditation. You can do it whilst sitting, standing, even when walking. So wherever you are, you should be able to learn how to meditate. This is great if you have a mind-numbingly dull job that doesn’t allow you to use your phone, listen to music, or do anything else but sit or stand there.
Read these to pass the time:
- How To Be Patient: Developing Patience In An Impatient World
- Why Living One Day At A Time Is Important (+ How To Do It)
- 28 Things To Do When You’re Home Alone And Bored Out Of Your Mind
- Why You’re Feeling Bored With Life (+ What To Do About It)