10 Facts You Need to Know About Time to Control It

For centuries, time manipulation has been one of humanity's most desirable skills. We've all had those days when it felt like time had either stopped completely or went by way too quickly. So while scientists are rushing to create a potion of eternal youth or to create a time machine, psychologists have come up with several ways to deal with the speed of time.

We at Bright Side have put together a list of rules obeyed by time and this should be helpful in making the most out of your own time.

1. Time drags when we’re bored.

The same period of time can fly by while watching an interesting movie and can last forever while reading a boring book.

The thing is that when we’re bored, we are highly focused on ourselves. In other words, we think too much. This makes us process more information and that slows down our time perception. In contrast, when we’re fully concentrated on something other than ourselves, time feels like it's going by too quickly.

2. Time slows when we face uncertainty.

We're all familiar with the feeling when we're not even close to being ready to leave and someone points out that we only have 10 minutes left. Those are probably some of the most unnoticeable 10 minutes ever. But if we have to wait 10 minutes for the result of a pregnancy test, then those same 10 minutes can seem unbearably long. And it doesn’t matter which results you're hoping for.

When we don’t know what's waiting for us, we think about it too much. So surprises make our brain pay attention to every little detail. And that period of time seems longer and longer in your mind.

3. Time freezes if we follow the clock too much.

Those "5 more minutes" in the mornings are usually some of the most savored sleeping minutes for all of us. But the same 5 minutes seem to drag on for an eternity for a student who keeps glancing at the clock every few seconds, waiting for the bell to ring.

The reason for this “stopped clock illusion” is that flicking our eyes from point to point to look at the clock takes a tiny amount of time during which nothing happens. But our consciousness becomes interrupted. And our brain tries to recover it by telling us that we were looking at the clock, which takes even more time.

4. Time moves slower when we’re aware of ourselves.

Performing onstage for 20 minutes will be just as memorable as an hour-long walk home.

This is because when we repeat a routine action, we become immersed in our own thoughts and we don't really pay attention to reality. However, when we're onstage, we become very self-aware and we feel fully alive in the present moment. Being self-aware means being constantly focused on the present time. The more we focus on everything as it happens, the more memories we create and the slower time becomes.

5. Time stretches when we’re in danger or scared.

2 hours on a plane and 2 hours in a car are extremely different experiences for someone who is afraid of flying.

When we are afraid or are in danger, our brain registers a huge amount of information all at once. It picks up on everything that it can use to survive. And this information doesn't disappear after we calm down. It stays with us and makes us believe that the stressful time period was actually much longer than it really was.

6. Time slows when we’re waiting.

A week before a deadline is never enough, while a week before a vacation can drag on forever.

When we want something to happen, time can play a trick on us and move slower. And it can pass even more slowly if we’re too impulsive and get angry when we don’t get what we want immediately. No, time doesn’t play a joke on us on purpose. It’s just that in moments like this, we can’t think about anything else. So basically, we become more sensitive to how we feel about the thing we desire so much and to the passing of time.

7. A time period feels longer if it’s full of new impressions.

The road to a certain place for the first time feels much longer than the way back.

The reason is that when our brain receives lots of new information, it needs time to reorganize and present it to us in an understandable way. The longer it takes, the longer that period of time feels. When the information is already familiar, this process happens much quicker.

8. Time speeds up when we're in a hurry.

What are 3 days to prepare for an exam in comparison with the 3 days waiting for the results of it?

No matter how many days we have until a deadline, they're never enough. Because when we are in a rush, we are not fully present in the moment - we are too focused on getting things done. So we barely notice all of the other information that surrounds us. And this is how our days become shorter. Maybe it’s not such a good idea to focus only on studying when going for a walk or talking to a friend could actually give us a bit more time. Just keep it balanced.

9. Time moves too quickly when we do the same things every day.

You know the feeling when you’re on a vacation and you meet new people and learn all these new and interesting things? Well, 3 weeks of that feels longer than 3 weeks of routine work, where you see the same people and basically do the same things every day.

When we find ourselves in a new place, our mind starts to notice all the little things it doesn’t notice anymore about our routine life. The trees, the sky, and even salt and pepper in a restaurant are different and interesting. Our mind is so busy processing all these new sights and sounds that it feels like much more time passes by than in reality. This is, of course, until we get used to the new place and then it’s time to continue our journey in search of new experiences that will stretch our perception of time.

10. Time goes by faster as we get older.

A day of a child can last forever, while an elderly person may barely notice how a whole week has flown by.

We have vivid memories of our childhood but sometimes, we can’t even remember what happened last week. Actually, this rule combines all of the other things mentioned earlier. As we get older, our mind doesn’t receive as much new information as before. Nothing seems new anymore. No new impressions or feelings. Our actions are the same as earlier and, essentially, we become bored.

It's the same as on vacation; time stretches until we get used to the new place. In the scale of life, it happens until we get used to the world around us…until there is nothing left unexplored.

At least that’s what our mind thinks. But now when we know which rules time obeys we can take control and slow it down. All we need to do is:

  • Keep our brain active
  • Learn new skills
  • Meet new people
  • Explore new places
  • Surprise ourselves from time to time

Do you know any life hacks to slow down time? Or maybe you know how to make it go faster or slower when necessary? Share with us in the comments below!

Preview photo credit Pexels, Pixabay
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