“Can one tell – that is to say, narrate – time, time itself, as such, for its own sake? That would surely be an absurd undertaking.”
Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
If you think about it, you may be freaked out by the idea that time is the only commodity you can’t control. Maybe that’s why you keep googling for proper time management. Making you wonder who comes up with these guides, the weird world of WikiHow has even tips on how to take control of your time – sprinkling baby powder on your skin being one of them (Here, look for yourself). If baby powder doesn’t work for you, you may share Mann’s puzzlement. Novelty can invigorate us, making time fly. But as soon as we become habituated to the new, the improvement fades away. When we’re bored, time drags; but, looking back, long periods of monotonous time just shrink together, making even a whole life appear short. Time is complex and puzzling.
Without getting too deep into philosophical waters about the nature of time, you may still wonder: how do I get a trip on my own time? Is proper time management even possible? Time is the new currency, and it looks like we’re all short on it.
Train Your Attention
Our time perception seems to be greatly affected by how much attention the activity we’re currently engaged in requires. The more a task requires our attention, the more we tend to judge time to be longer. Athletes often say they get “in the zone” during peak performance. Due to their laser focus on the moment, a transformation of time takes place, their sense of control is extremely high and they may even lose a bit of self-awareness. You may think, well, good for them! But I can barely manage an hour’s workout twice a week, reaching peak performance seems a bit of a stretch. Still, there is a way to replicate these feelings.
Focus on the Present Moment
Newly published research from psychologists at the universities of Kent and Witten/Herdecke has shown that meditation increases happiness, decreases anxiety, and changes people’s perception of time. According to Dr. Kramer, who led the team of researchers, this may be the result of attentional changes. Meditation teaches you how to be in the present moment, allowing you to channel all your energy to what you’re currently doing. Consider for a moment how often you dwell on the past or anticipate what might happen. Those are common traits in anxious people. Anxiety makes you lose control over your attentional spotlight, making you less efficient and more distracted.
Sit or lie comfortably. Put on your favorite YouTube playlist. Maybe just stream a great meditation album on Apple Music or Spotify. Then focus your attention on a single point. It may be your breath, a candle flame, even a mirror. It will be hard at the beginning, but by doing this exercise you will improve your concentration and finally take control of your time.
Sure, your life is and will always be extremely full. How to keep going without letting time fly by? The answer may be simpler than you thought: meditate.