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Updated: Aug 21, 2022

Time is not all it’s cracked up to be

Do you ever notice how time flies when you’re busy? And really drags when you are bored or waiting for something?

The old saying ‘a watched kettle never boils’ seems to ring true in the same way as how time seems to slow down to a crawl as we wait for our much anticipated holiday.

We think of time as a unit of measurement of, well, time, the amount of lapsed seconds, minutes, or hours we have to complete what needs to be done.

In fact, time is a measurement of distance. A day is the approximate measurement of how long it takes the earth to rotate on its axis from 1 point to another. From this measure of a day we then split it down further into hours, seconds etc. But it was us who decided to measure time in this way. In this respect time is a man-made concept. And a concept we repeatedly use to beat ourselves up.

‘I haven’t achieved x in this unit of man-made measurement’

From this can come a whole narrative of how we should be achieving, how we are obviously no good at our jobs, why must we continually fail, or whatever you flavour of self-criticism for the day is.

So knowing that time is simply a measurement, let’s go back to the opening sentence. Time ‘seems’ to speed up when we are busy and slow down when our minds are not busy whirring away, building up stories and filling our heads with so much stuff we no longer have any concept of time, place or sense of rationality.

Surely then the answer is to slow time down by empty our heads?

Well, sort of. It would certainly be a good place to start.

We can think like this if we want:

‘I don’t have enough time’, ‘I don’t have enough time’, ‘I don’t have enough time’, ‘I don’t have enough time’, ‘I’m so busy, I’m so stressed’, ’why don’t I have enough time?’ ‘I don’t have enough time’, ‘I don’t have enough time’,

Or we can choose to do something different.

The first stage is to stop the narrative above. Give ourselves a bit of breathing space, start telling ourselves a different story. Slow down our overthinking. You will surprised at the difference this one small act can make.

There are better ways to manage the tasks we need to complete, but it will be difficult to find those answers when we are so busy up in our heads telling ourselves we can’t.

Martyn Dawes is a Coach, Social Care Consultant, and Author of The Overwhelmed Manager: What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do

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