As my research continues, it’s clear I’m not the only one fascinated by the idea that time can go by quickly, or slowly, depending on your age and what you’re doing “at the time” (no pun intended).
Grodin Explains Why Time Flies
Simon Grodin is a psychologist at Université Laval in Quebec, Canada who studies research on timing and our perception of time. If you have lots of time, you can read Simon Grodin’s findings, published in a now famous 2010 paper, Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics in addition to his book The Psychology of Time.
One of the theories Grondin explores is that time goes faster when you’re focusing on a task. You know what happens. You’re exerting so much concentration that suddenly you look up at lunch time and declare, “Hey, where did the time go?”
“The key component about the passage of time is probably attention,” explains Grondin. He also makes the telling remark, “time flies when you do not pay attention to it.”
So it follows if you want to slow up time—which is what I’m trying to do—you need to force yourself to pay attention to the details all around you without letting other distractions pull you away. No multi-tasking here. This is a mission of detail!
While preparing to write this, one of my favorite bloggers, Gretchen Rubins re-posted a video she created called The Years are Short. In the video, Rubins recalls those few years in which she had to accompany her young daughter on a New York city bus each day.
Although at the time, the busy mother probably felt she had better things to do with her time, one day as her daughter pointed out each small detail of the trip, Rubins realized how important the experience was for capturing a very precious period in her life. She concludes with the phrase, “The days are long, but the years are short” as a reminder to us all about taking time to take in the details—and enjoy them— like a child.
Take a Detail Trip to Slow Up Time
Try this simple exercise. Decide on a route to walk, or a streetcar/bus line to ride that take you at least an hour in one direction, and then an hour back again. Leave your cell phone at home and if you can’t resist shopping, leave your cash and credit cards behind as well. The point is to pay attention to the trip and nothing else.
I guarantee it will be the longest two hours, and hopefully, the most rewarding of the week!