• Resilient Practice

How to Manage Time


The indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole”

This is the Oxford dictionary definition of time.

It has however been argued that time is in fact an illusion[1].

We have all experienced this; when we look up from a task and state

“Wow is that the time?” or “Time has flown!”

Similarly, when we are waiting for something to happen or arrive and we feel that time is dragging. It feels as if time has slowed.

In the theraputic setting where altered states of awareness are used, ten minutes can feel like an hour and vice versa.

At the start of a holiday it feels we have all the time in the world but as the days pass, time appears to speed up and before we know it is it time to pack for home.

Research has shown that that time seems to pass more quickly as we age.

Babies have no concept of time. As the pre-frontal cortex develops, attention and memory improve allowing them to gauge time more accurately.

As we age it has been theorised that our internal clock slows and so we perceive that time is speeding up[2]

Experiments have also shown that the amount of information our brain is presented with alters our perception of time. The more new information the slower time seems to pass. The more new memories we make the longer the experience appears.

In childhood all experiences are new as we get older less so. This explains in part why time appears to pass more quickly as we get older.

Our emotions of course will also have a part to play in our perceptions.

When we are afraid, time expands. We become stuck in the moment of a bad experience and it can seem to last forever.

When we are tired our timing is off[3].

When events are looming our perception of the time we have is distorted[4].

When we are bored time appears to drag.

Time spent on technology and social media eats into our day.

When we are enjoying ourselves increased dopamine levels slow our internal clock and time appears to speed by[5]

Above we have described ‘perceived time’ which stretches and expands depending on our experiences and emotions.

All of the above supports the notion that time is a human construct or illusion.

Our only way to measure time is ‘clock time.’ This is a linear phenomenon which obeys the laws of physics.

We all want to make the most of our time.

If we are to accept that time is an illusion or a human construct, let us buy into it in a conscious way.

“Time is free but it is priceless. You can’t own it but you can use it. You can’t keep it but you can spend it. Once you have lost it you can never get it back.”

Harvey Mackay.

How then do we make the most of our time?

Capitalising on the science of time...

Try this:

1. Create new experiences whenever possible. That means trying new things, saying yes and being open to receive what the universe has to offer you.

2. The more memories you have of an event, the more space that event takes up in your psyche and the longer the event appears to have lasted.

3. Stay present in all things. If your thoughts are in the past or future you will not fully experience what is happening now and you certainly will not be creating memories.

4. Remember that emotion manipulates perception so avoid adding unnecessary emotional weight to events either before or after they have happened. This will prevent wasting time worrying about the future or revisiting the past.

5. Limit time on social media/technology.

6. Make time for connecting with loved ones.

7. Take time outside in nature.

8. Look at the walking meditation in our previous article ‘Making Connections.’

9. Banish guilt for time spent on self-care ,

10. On a practical note this week’s tool is an organisational technique to help with time management.

Eisenhower’s principle of time management.

Dwight Eisenhower was the 34th US President. He was before that an officer in the US Military. In both these roles he had to make big decisions and so he developed a matrix to help.

Tasks can be categorised in terms of their importance and their urgency:

Stephen Covey uses this matrix as an example of good practice in his book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.’

Get into the habit of categorising your tasks.

Do the important and urgent ones first regardless.

Plan the important, non-urgent ones into your diary.

Delegate the important, non-urgent ones.

Dump the rest.

Regular use of this task will help you recognise what is important and urgent in your life and help you feel ok about dumping the things that are not. Time is short we can never get it back so make sure you spend your time on the people and the things you love.

[1] Carl Rovelli 2018 ‘The Order of Time.’ Penguin Books [2] Robert Ornstein 1997 ‘On the Experience of Time.’ Routledge [3] [4] Virginie van Wassenhove , Dean V. Buonomano, Shinsuke Shimojo, Ladan Shams. Distortions of Subjective Time Perception Within and Across Senses, January 16, 2008: [5] Simen P, Matell M. Why does time seem to fly when we're having fun? Science 2016; 354(6317):1231-1232. doi:10.1126/science.aal4021

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