Which of the following two attitudes describes you?
- “I’m crunched for time.” — or —
- “I have all the time in the world.”
I’m guessing your answer is the first, rather than the second. But what if you could feel like your time is expansive and abundant, without drastic changes to your schedule?
Most of us want to feel “off the clock,” enjoying an existence in which we can linger, without feeling pressure from the demands and stresses on our schedules. According to Laura Vanderkam, even the busiest, most-scheduled people can achieve this feeling. We can live off-the-clock.
Laura is a time management expert, but her latest book isn’t about management in the traditional sense of the word. Rather, it focuses on time perception — getting into the headspace of believing time is abundant, regardless of the demands imposed upon it.
The brain stores memories efficiently, which means it vividly recalls novel experiences — such as the one-week trip to Belize — while compressing repetitive experiences, like a commute, into a single memory. For that reason, time feels like it passes more quickly when we encounter situations that are routine and familiar, and slows when we experience new situations.
That’s how a one-week conference feels long, but a routine week at the office flies by.
Of course, we can’t eschew familiarity; there are many benefits to adopting a routine. But we can slow time by savoring our everyday experiences.
The more we engage mindfully in everyday activities — from savoring each bite of food to noticing the flowers during our commute to work — the more we’re likely to feel relaxed about our time. We create happy memories, rather than compressing our experiences in our minds.
Treating our hours with intention can also lengthen our experience of time. We plan and structure our workdays, deciding how to spend our hours between 8 am and 6 pm. But often, we aren’t deliberate about how we’ll craft the hours from 6 pm to 11 pm, and therefore can feel like we rarely see family, even if we’re with them for three to four hours each evening.
Deliberately crafting hours doesn’t mean jam-packing our schedule in 30-minute increments. Scheduling a two-hour block of time to linger over a long dinner can blend intentionality with the art of savoring.
In fact, Laura notes, those who are the most disciplined about their time are also more likely to feel that they enjoy plenty of free time. Structure creates freedom.
Today on the podcast, Laura and I talk about how to make time feel abundant.
- Best of Both Worlds podcast
- Interview: Why You’re Not as Busy as You Think, with Laura Vanderkam
- Book: Off the Clock
- Book: 168 Hours
- Start a blog for less than $3 a month with Bluehost!
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