Does time seem like it’s getting away from you?
Do you obsess over planners and time management tools, but never seem to have ‘extra time?’
Here are five ways our time gets the best of us:
1. When you gauge time by memorable events, when those events happen less frequently, monotony sets in and time seems to plod by.
Psychologist William James wrote that we “may be measuring past intervals of time by the number of events that can be recalled in that period.” Imagine a millennial mom experiencing the stressful daily routine of work and family. As she recalls her high-spirited memories of her four years of high school (homecoming football games, prom, first car, first kiss, graduation), those years seem like they took much longer than the mere four years of college, or the four years that made her a wife and working mom with a family.
2. Time passes relative to one’s age.
Click here for an interactive tool discover how differently time is processed at every age. This remarkable tool explains how slowly life unfolds as infants, and how much faster life and time is perceived as we age. For instance, if you are a 5-year-old, one year is 20% of your entire life. If you’re a 50-year-old, however, one year is only 2% of your life. This “time-ratio theory” is the brainchild of French philosopher Paul Janet in 1877, and he proposes that we are subliminally comparing time intervals with the total amount of time we’ve already lived. Thus, the older we are, the faster time seems to pass.
3. Our biological clock slows us down as we get older.
As we age, we slow down. It takes us longer to walk that mile than it did when we were in our twenties. It takes us longer to prepare, to plan, and then to execute the plan. Our bodies don’t keep up with our brains sometimes. The logistics often include more people because our families have grown larger. Everything takes longer to process. What used to be quick and easy now takes more of our time and energy—and as we age, time and energy become currency that is dispensed with care.
4. As we age, we focus less on time and more on processes.
As a kid on December 1st, you faithfully count down the days until Santa comes. It’s all you think of and it seems like forever! When you’re an adult on December 1, there is a countdown, but you multi-focus on work, budget, bills, wish lists, holiday schedules, deadlines, travel plans, Christmas shopping. When we adult more, we focus less on time alone, like we did in our youth.
5. Stress kicks our butt as we get older.
Two scientific studies (by Marc Wittman and Sandra Lehnhoff in 2005, and replicated in 2010 by William Friedman and Steve Janssen) concluded that in our middle age, we often feel there is not enough time to get things done. From GenZ to Traditionalists, when our planners are full, our brains may reinterpret your response as “time is passing too quickly!” Even Traditionalists and Boomers (who are often retired from work) may continue to feel stress due to physical handicaps or diminished cognitive ability. Things we used to do require more effort and more time.
How can we make the most of our time?
As we approach 2020, let me assure you that your time is not literally going faster as you age. It is just a “perception” of your time.
Ecclesiastes (3:1-8) tells us there is “a time to every purpose under heaven.” God allows time to pass. He appoints time. He sets time. He commands time.
So doesn’t it make sense to partner with Him on our time?
Let’s load up our planners and set our goals for 2020 and present them to God in a prayer. After all, it’s not just a new year, it’s a new decade! Set big goals! Ask for great things that will honor God! Not sure what to ask for? Try setting a goal and praying about these five things:
- Person – make a new friend, spend time with an old friend
- Place – or a cause, to spend your time, energy and money
- Physical Activity – an activity that you enjoy that will make you sweat a bit and grow some muscle
- Pastime – or a hobby that will keep your mind sharp
- Project – something that will give you a quick win like organize a drawer, purge a closet, or create a to-do list of projects
Pray about these things as 2020 approaches. Just realize, not all of them will stick, just the ones He appoints. And that’s okay. He will allow time to pass on some of our plans, or He may set another time for them at a later date. Because whether we realize it or not, He commands time—even ours. I will pray along with you if you comment below with the answer to this question:
What will you be asking God to bless in your new decade?
small print: I wanted to recognize the two articles I read that made me think this topic was important for you: