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How do you perceive time? Does it fly or crawl for you? Do you feel it goes by differently in our current times of remote work, study and socialising?

A couple of years ago, when I was teaching in-company, my students often complained how fast time went by for them. I was surprised to notice that it was the opposite for me. By the evening the morning seemed far-far away. So what was the difference between us? 

At that time my main hypothesis was the change of context: my students were in the same place all day with similar work day in day out, while I was moving between different companies (each with its unique office space and feel), teaching several levels to people in different positions. So even similar topics were covered in a different manner depending on the group or individual.

Today I was writing an update on January for my blog and got the same feeling. January? New Year holiday? Isn’t it all miles away? So I’ve finally looked up the concept of time perception. I was right: I had more novelty compared to my students. But obviously, there is more. 

The easiest way to look at this question is to divide life situations into those when time flies and when it crawls (or drags.)  

So, shortly, time crawls when

  1. one is experiencing intense emotions like pain or pleasure, e.g. when we’re having fun
  2. there’s danger, e.g. when one’s falling off the ladder and remembers every moment for it,
  3. one’s bored or waiting,
  4. one’s in an altered state of consciousness, e.g. having drug-induced experiences,
  5. one’s fully concentrated (“in the zone”) or meditating,
  6. there’s shock and novelty, e.g. going on holiday or learning something new. 

Time flies when

  1. there are routine tasks, even if they are complex ones
  2. one’s episodic memory (that of everyday events) fades away, e.g. not being able to remember what you did last week at 19 on Tue. 

Now you can deduce how to manage your perception of time and make it go more slowly (or fast).

Read more here – Why time seems to fly – or trickle – by

P.S. the website seems to be a reliable source of information as they claim that they publish “research-based news and analysis”. I’m subscribed to their newsletter where they shortly give the gist of selected articles by sections, and links to them (obviously).

P.P.S Update’s here if you’re curious.

Photo by Niklas Rhöse on Unsplash

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