“I’ve learned that life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.”
- Andy Rooney
It’s an odd phenomenon, and one that you might remember dismissively rolling your eyes at in youthful privilege. But your parents were right! Little did the teenage-you know: time really does gain on you. One minute you’re 18 and your summertime freedom stretches on in a glorious eternity – and then you go to college, or get a job, or fall in love and somehow, when you aren’t paying such close attention, you turn 23. By next year, you’ll be in your mid-twenties. You’re almost halfway to 30 – real adult territory – when just a second ago you were only 18! You quickly realise that this is just how time moves now: your weekends collapse back into Monday morning in the time it takes you to change out of your work clothes.
Where the hell is all of your time going?
Time Flies When…You Know What’s Coming Next
When you’re little everything is new and exciting. We build significant memories as we check off our list of “first times”, but the older we get the less novelty we experience. We become so used to our routines that from the moment we get up in the morning we usually know how our day is going to go. It can often be comforting, but predictability makes the clock race. Think of any movie you’ve seen multiple times – doesn’t it seem like it’s only about half an hour long after the second or third viewing?
The answer is both obvious and simple: keep adjusting your routine.
- Start small! Inject some spontaneity into your morning. Decide to make extravagant pancakes for breakfast on an idle Wednesday, or take a full-on bubble bath the moment you roll out of bed.
- Take a different route to work and give purpose to your lunch hour. Instead of vegging out with a book and a sandwich, learn how to make an origami crane, or eat on the go and explore the area around your office building.
- Make mid-week plans. Don’t just go home and collapse after work – change into something fancy and go on a date, even if it’s a date with yourself (often the best kind).
Time Flies When…You’re Living For the Weekend
Even though most of us have always done this, it becomes a much more dangerous game as you get older. Kids might grumble about school but when it comes down to it they spend all day with their friends, they get two communal breaks, and their day is over by 4pm. The average full-time work schedule is slightly more oppressive. Even if your office has the warmest social circle imaginable, you’ll still have a life outside work that has to be put on hold for evenings and weekends. The problem is that if you’re spending Monday-Friday willing the clock to fast-forward to home time, you’re wishing 40+ hours of your life away every week. That’s roughly a quarter of your time spent on auto-pilot!
Scary, right? Hard as it is, if we want time to cool its jets and move at a manageable pace, we’ve all really got to live in the now – even when the ‘now’ seems so much less exciting than the ‘later’.
- Stop watching the clock and do your best to remind yourself that you’re there for a reason (which could be anything from paying your rent to funding your lifestyle to chasing your dream career).
- Acknowledge the perks! If you work in a restaurant, do you get free meals? If you’re a desk jockey, does your boss bring in wine on Fridays? If you work in retail, are you surrounded by books or beautiful clothes all day? If you’re hard pressed to find a perk, create one. Get in the habit of bringing in homemade muffins to share every Thursday, or introduce a tradition of after-work drinks with your colleagues.
- If your job really is so horrendous that you need happy weekend thoughts just to get through the day, you’ve got to get out of there. You can’t spend the majority of your waking hours doing something you hate and expect to have a fulfilling life. It’s not always easy to clamour out of a rut like that, but it is absolutely worth the time and effort.
Time Flies When…You Really Do Have Less Time
It’s generally accepted that we accumulate more responsibilities and obligations as we get older. When you’re young you’ve got school and homework, maybe a few extracurriculars – but as we’ve established, your day is basically over mid-afternoon. Once you hit your 20s, you’ve got work all morning and afternoon, and in the evenings and weekends you’ve got to fit in a constantly growing list of household tasks, life admin like paying bills and making appointments, and a social life and family who’ll be pissed if you don’t make time for them. We don’t make things easy for ourselves, and time ticks away while we’re figuring out how to manage it.
- Drop something from your To-Do list – permanently. Ahhh, isn’t that liberating? Use the extra time to do something fun, but don’t procrastinate on the web or in front of the TV or it won’t have been worth it!
- Don’t be afraid to say ‘No’ to social plans every now and then. It’s important to make time for the people you love, but it is equally important to take time for yourself and it’s okay to admit when you need it. We’ve all been there!
The main thing to remember is that you actually do have plenty of time. Sure, you can’t make time but you can always find it.
Get up earlier.
Cut down your TV and Reddit hours.
Use your me-time to do something memorable.
As H. Jackson Brown Jr said – “You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”
It’s all about how you use them!
Featured image by Brandon Warren.