The cure for “Where did the time go?”

hourglass

Have you ever looked back on pictures of a younger you and said something like, “Where did the time go?”  Why does time often feel so fleeting?  More importantly, is there anything we can do to slow it down?  How can we keep life from feeling like such a vapor?  I’ve been spending some time thinking about that lately.  So far I’ve come up with three things.

Don’t procrastinate—Think back to school.  Did you ever wait to study for a test or write a paper until the night before it was due?  Whenever I did that, I got the sense that it had snuck up on me.  When I first got the assignment, it felt like I had plenty of time.  No need to rush.  Other things were more urgent.  And then all of a sudden “plenty of time” turned into “now or never.”  What happened?

When you procrastinate, the passage of time becomes a nagging reminder that there is much left undone; that most of your dreams are still on the drawing board.  When your time gets short and your To-do list stays long, the time flies by. 

When you actually DO stuff, however, your To-do list is shrinking right along with your remaining time.  You don’t get that same feeling of rushed panic (at least not to the same degree).  Yes the time went by, but you used it wisely.  If you spend your life saying “Someday,” I suspect you will reach the end with an overwhelming sense that it went by too fast.  Don’t wait for someday.  Someday is here.

Break routine—I’ve mentioned before that we have a goal of getting out daughter to all 50 states before she graduates from high school.  A few weeks ago we went to St. Louis, Missouri (otherwise known as state #17). 

It wasn’t a major trip, but we had a fun time.  We found several great restaurants, visited the Arch, went to the City Museum (probably the coolest “museum” in the United States) and had a fun time hanging out as a family. 

Had we stayed home and done the same old thing that we do every weekend, I would have forgotten about it by Monday.  But we did something different.  Something out of the ordinary.  And because of that, all three of us will likely never forget that weekend.  We’ll always have those shared memories, stories and photographs. 

To keep time from flying by, break up your routine.  If you go through life doing the same thing, day in and day out, there won’t be much to remember.  It will seem like the same day lived over and over.  Life will seem so short because it won’t be packed with memories.  But if you make sure to periodically do interesting and out of the ordinary things, your life will seem long and full.  As I have said before, focus on milestones instead of maintenance.

Do less—At first, doing less might seem like a counterintuitive way to have a fuller life, but stick with me for a second.  If you pack your schedule with too much, you don’t have time to savor life.  It’s the difference between enjoying a nice meal with friends and competing in a hot dog eating contest.  In one you have a chance to enjoy the food and engage in interesting conversation.  In the other you’re trying to shove in as much as you can as fast as you can.  You might end up eating more in the hot dog eating contest, but you will also end up enjoying it less.  Unfortunately, many of us (e.g. me) live our lives like it’s a hot dog eating contest.  We’re trying to shove in as much as possible.  There’s a fine line between living a full life and cramming so much stuff in that you feel rushed and can’t enjoy it.  Beware of the busy virus.  Simplify.

Have a great week.  Make it interesting!

~ Joe

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