Ground yourself in the present
How is it [insert current month] already? If you repeat this phrase every 30 days, listen up. It’s time to slow down and appreciate the present.
When you’re a kid, life seems limitless. Every day passes with syrupy slowness, and years stretch out like taffy. But as you get older, your perception of time speeds up. In your thirties, each year rushes by. (Is it almost 2017? How did that happen? It was 2010, like, five minutes ago.) In fact, some research shows that by age seven, half your perceived life is over.
One reason that time seems so limitless for kids is that almost every experience is novel, and newness helps you better remember a point in time. As you get older, routine takes over and new experiences are generally in shorter supply. When you do the same things every day (in my case, eating oatmeal for every breakfast), your brain becomes lazy; days begin to blur together.
The good news: whether you’re 20 or 50 years old, research shows that trying something new wakes up the brain. You could plan a day trip to somewhere outside your city. Or try cooking with a new ingredient, like cactus. Or spice up your relationship by changing up date night. Look for opportunities throughout the day to say “yes” to new experiences, big and small.
Making a special effort to notice more—in other words, practise mindfulness—can help you stop time from flying by. Meditation is one of the easiest ways to do this. If you’ve had trouble meditating in the past, start with just five minutes a day. As a bonus, mediation may also help you sleep better, stress less, and have more self-compassion.
In general, studies show that time seems to pass more quickly when we feel stressed about having too much to do. You’ve probably experienced moments at work or school when it seems like you’re to-do list is endless and there’s not enough time in the day to check off everything—that’s what researchers have called “time pressure.”
To reduce this, try to work smarter. Avoid multitasking, which can fragment your focus and reduce overall productivity. Also, prioritize your lunchtime for an instant energy boost. (Hunger can seriously impact your cognitive functions.)