No. Time downright zooms turbulently by while we do our best to keep up. We hurry through the day, we race to arrive on time and we brush our teeth while tying our shoes. Does this rushing lifestyle do us harm? In our quest to be ever more efficient and productive, are we achieving quite the opposite?
Man who chases two rabbits catches neither. -Confucious
Psychologist Michael Ashworth labels this excessive time-urgency and trying to do too many things at once, “hurry sickness”. He says, "Pushing yourself to always meet the deadline, to constantly be on time, even when being on time is not necessary, places tremendous stress on your mind and body. Time-oriented people have a fear of being rejected and cover their anxiety with a flurry of activity. When they stop what they are doing, they feel guilty and, consequently, begin the vicious cycle all over again.”
It’s difficult not to view multi-tasking as the only way of life in the world we live in. In her article, So you think you can multi-task? Sally Rawlings discredits any value to multi-tasking, saying, “Practice doesn't make perfect. The more you do it, the worse the outcome. If doing one thing at a time sounds old-fashioned, in 21st-century parlance it's 'mono-tasking'. And getting things done is always in fashion.”
Writer/blogger Jeff Goins also calls out multi-tasking as a myth. He says, “Every time you put your hand to something, you’re communicating (both internally and externally) the priority of that task. You’re saying it’s just as important as whatever else you’re trying to do. When you multitask, you’re not only communicating a priority; you’re diluting your focus. You and I are called to important work that not just anyone can do. And the biggest obstacle to accomplishing this is a million little distractions that we encounter every day. We have this idea that if we accomplish many things, then that equates to better work. When we try to do too many things, we end up doing them poorly.” Take Jeff up on a 5 day slow-down challenge.
The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.
If you consider everything equally urgent, stress will inevitably harm your wellbeing. Place events and tasks in proper perspective. Like most things, slowing down requires practice. Taking the time to listen more than talk is a part of slowing down. Tsh of Simple Mom gives this advice: "Remember to look at people as people, and not as projects, or as conduits for your productivity. May you resist the temptation to rush through relationships in order to find the prize, or to check off your list “coffee with a friend.” Slow down, listen well, and bravely ask more questions than talk about yourself. Show that you care."
Neuroscientist David Eagleman, best known for his published work on time perception, studies how the brain perceives time passing and found that it’s something that we have a certain level of control over. Eagleman's research supports the idea that taking time to be mindful and focusing fully on the present moment -- in other words, actively noticing new things -- can actually slow down our brain's perception of time. And just as powerfully, mindless distraction can easily create the feeling that we're losing whole hours, days and months. The more familiar the world becomes, the less information your brain writes down, and the more quickly time seems to pass.
How to slow time:
- Think through how much time you want to devote to various relationships; thoughtfully sorting out priorities is vital in an age of 24/7 connectivity. (Rawlings, Good Health)
- Notice more. The essence of mindfulness is cultivating a focused attention on the here and now, which science has shown can help our brains to store more information. (Eagleman)
- “Learn to fall in love with the whole process of life, not just a particular event.” (Jeff Goins)
- Jessica Stillman, writer for small business resource Inc. proposes that the way to enjoy longer-seeming days is to keep learning, visit new places and meet new people in order for your brain to enjoy a “wealth of newness" which results in the experience of time slowing.
“Practice, then, living in the moment,” summarizes Psychotherapist, Dr. Michael Hurd, “Not for the moment, but in the moment. There’s a difference.”