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How to Make Time Go Faster When Doing Something Mundane

Danielle Dahl, Lead Contributor

We have all been there… sitting in a meeting that is dragging on and on or staring at the clock at work wishing it would go faster. Maybe you are struggling to make it through the day until your date later this evening, and if time moves any slower, it would be standing still. It’s a terrible feeling, but the truth is that time doesn’t actually move fast or slow.

It moves at a set pace, it is our perception of things that make it feel like it crawling or flying by. With that being said, is there a way to make it feel like time is going faster when you are doing something you wish you weren’t?

Why do we feel like time moves slowly in the first place

The easy answer here is that we don’t enjoy the task we are doing so it seems to move at a painfully slow pace. However, there are actually a few other factors that explain this phenomenon in a little more detail.

If you are constantly watching the clock, it is going to feel like it never moves. The reason is that you are literally focusing on the slowest component of time…the little second hand.

How to Make Time Go Faster When Doing Something Mundane

This is true whether you are staring at an analog clock watching that little hand tick or whether you are staring at your digital clock for every full minute. 60 seconds sounds excruciating, where one minute sounds faster. Remember, a watched pot never boils!

Another thing that makes time feel like you are swimming through quicksand, is a lack of engagement. This kind of goes back to the “we don’t like what we are doing,” but actually engagement is a little more involved than that.

You can be doing a task, but that doesn’t mean you are engaged. When we are engaged we are actively giving our attention to what we are doing, not doing the thing, while thinking about what other things we have to do.

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Knowing why it feels like time is moving slowly is only half the battle. However, the good news is that there are things you can do to stop watching the clock and stay engaged.

Time moves slowly but quickly passes.” – Alice Walker

If you’re enjoying this article, be sure to also check out our collection of inspirational time quotes about making the most of it.

How to make time feel like it is going faster

While I wish I could say just stop doing things that you don’t enjoy, that is unrealistic for most of us. Even those who really do enjoy what they do every day, have moments or tasks that they wish they wouldn’t have to do. That is the first little tip for making time move faster!

Start with your least favorite things first. Does that 4:00 pm budget meeting suck your soul and have you staring at your watch wondering if it is time to go home yet?

Schedule it at 9 am instead. By getting it out of your way, you can enjoy the rest of your day. At the end of the day, when you are so close to being done, is a bad time to try and do tasks that make your mind wander.

Seeking engagement will get you one step closer to achieving “flow.” The best way to make time go fast is to achieve flow. A “flow state” is a psychological term that describes when a person is fully immersed in a task.

Most of us refer to it as “being in the zone.” It is something that makes you feel energized and focused. You should be actively interested and engaged with what you’re doing, but you will also want it to provide some kind of challenge. The right amount of challenge will chase away the boredom, but not send you into panic mode.

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Another thing you can do is try and split up tasks that really don’t want to do. Let’s say it is Monday, and you already dreading the report you write every Friday. Instead of doing it all on Friday (and staring at the clock) work on it for fifteen minutes first thing every morning.

You can do anything for 15 minutes! This won’t always work with meetings and trainings, but anytime you can split up a less than favorable activity, go ahead and give it a try.

Putting on some background music, or a podcast might also help! I wouldn’t put on something that is going to really catch your interest like some fascinating crime story, but a little 90s jam while you read, research, or write, will make it feel like the time is moving just a tiny bit faster.

This can work when you are working, or when you are staring at the clock trying to figure out how long you have been stuck behind this car.

Making time go faster when you aren’t doing a work task

Let’s talk traffic. Or really anything that makes you wait. I was recently sitting in the ER with my sister, waiting for the doctor to show up. I swear time never moves so slowly as when you are sitting in the room waiting for the doctor to come in.

What’s good about these scenarios is that you don’t have to speed up time while also maintaining productivity. So, how can you make it feel less like you are going to grow old waiting in the DMV? Easy!

Music and a podcast (especially that crime one that is going to suck you in) would work here, but so would some other fun things! Got a fun game you like to play on your phone? Go ahead and indulge while you wait. Or take a good book with you! I have seen ladies crocheting at the DMV before, and they don’t seem bothered by the wait at all.

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Do you know why? Cause chances are if they were home on their recliners, they would be crocheting because they want to! When I am not “busy” I am always reading, so sitting in the doctor’s office reading a good book doesn’t sound like a bad time to me! In fact, if I am lucky there are no children or barking dogs to distract me from my book.

Truth be told, I have gotten mad when they finally call my name because I am at a good part! Ugh, I really do hate that!

Try doing some brain teasers, logic puzzles, or trivia on your phone. These are all great ways to stretch your mental capacity and kill time. The point is if you can wait something out, and do something you love at the same time, I promise you won’t be watching the clock.

There are going to be moments in our life where just aren’t as engaged, invested, or entertained as we wish were. Hopefully, these tips will help you plan your day so you can avoid looking at the clock. That one doesn’t work for sure!

Sometimes time moves so slow and sometimes time moves so fast, but one thing that is always true is that time teaches everything and we should try and learn from it.” – Rahul Singh

What activities make time drag on for you? Do you have any other tips for making time go faster? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

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