We all have those days where it feels like there’s not enough time in the world to get our work done. Truth is, you might have plenty of time to get everything done, but your competing goals have altered your perception of time in general.
Photo by Elliot Bennett
In a recent study, Jordan Etkin of Duke’s Fuqua School of Business teamed up with researches from Stanford to see how goal conflict can alter your mind’s perception of time. What they found was that goals perceived to be in conflict with one another caused participants to feel pressured for time. When goals appear to pull us in multiple directions, we develop anxiety and start to believe that there couldn’t possibly be enough time to do what we need to do. Priorities clash and suddenly time itself seems shorter. Additionally, participants were found to be far more impatient when this kind of anxiety developed.
So what can you do to keep your perception of time in check? Etkin and her colleagues recommend taking slow breaths over the span of 11 seconds. It can also help to psych yourself up in whatever way you can. Participants that were told to repeat aloud “I am excited!” were able to fix their time perception as well. Of course, you could also find a way to make sure your days task never appear at odds with each other to begin with. Organise your week so that your days have themes or plot your work in groups of similar ideas. There are many ways for your brain to perceive time, and gaining control of your perception can help you relieve a lot of your stress.
Pressed for Time? Goal Conflict Shapes How Time Is Perceived, Spent, and Valued [Social Science Research Network via Duke Fuqua School of Business]