How do I make the most of my day?
Does it not feel that time is always running out? There is eternally so much to do and so little time to do it? And the entire math about time just doesn’t seem to add up? How can we multiply, divide, add or subtract time when truly the wall clock listens to nobody? And even when you remove its battery, the clock might not tick, but time still doesn’t come to a standstill. Time is something personal to you. Nobody can take your time away from you. You keep it, use it, waste it or lose it; it’s always in your hands. It’s yours. Time is subjective. And yet, time is malleable.
Real versus Personal time
Real time is also understood to be instrumental time, which is available for you to do what you must. And this is universally constant; we all have 24 hours in a given day. Some spare 5 minutes for a brisk shower while others make the luxury of 45; many go for a good workout at the crack of dawn while others want to use that time to sleep; some need to clear their room and perform daily chores themselves and use the pending time for homework while others use it for sport simply because they have the time and facility in excess.
Personal time, on the other hand, is your distinctive awareness of what is happening around you, how much headspace you are saving for tasks that are meaningful to you as well as for other tasks that you might find boring. Personal time feels different to two people even though the duration of that time is exactly the same. Like you loving the cookery class and hoping it would last forever versus your not-so-creative friend who says that it was so long and tedious it looked like the hour would never end!
When time flies… or drags
The way you organize information in your brain alters your perception of time. Research shows that when you record more of your surrounding experiences and pay greater attention to retain what is going on, you tend to remember them more, and slow down time. But then ironically, the things we enjoy seem to make time pass by faster. How might that be happening? Do we not want to retain the best moments?
If you really step back and think about the time you were watching your favourite movie or enjoying your favourite game, having fun at your birthday bash or enjoying the cookery class we spoke about; do you think you had too much going on? There may have been music, friends, chattering, eating, socializing, enjoying and gossiping; and you were not able to focus on any one thing in particular. Which means your brain did not retain all of those fun moments long enough. And time seemed to fly by you. And you wish the party had lasted longer. Or the game had yet another round for you to devour. And then on another day when exams were nearing and your mother asked you to study, nobody else was around. There was no television, no gossip, no music, no limitless food, nothing innovative to excite your enthusiasm, and no actively engaging distractions. That evening you thought that the dinner break and your night’s sleep seemed light years away. Time really appeared to be slow then.
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Dr Shefali Batra is a Psychiatrist and Mindfulness Coach. Connect with her on Instagram @drshefalibatra and read more about her work at drshefalibatra.com.