Time is a challenging partner to have a good relationship with.
Sometimes the hours fly by into days, into weeks, into months, into years. And we finally wake up one morning, look in the mirror, and realize just how much time has gone by.
…maybe we’ve accomplished what we set out to accomplish, maybe we haven’t, but time marches forward whether we want it to or not.
On the other hand, sometimes time just drags on and on.
Maybe it’s a rough day at work that just won’t end. Maybe 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 by going outdoors or exercise.
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.
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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; so many things that we just don’t want to make the time for or do.
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.