There are days in everyday work that just don’t want to go by. One boring meeting follows the next. Or you sit on a monotonous task that pulls and pulls. A look at the clock shows that just a few minutes have passed – although it should have been at least an hour. And then there are the other days. The ones when time seems to be running out. No sooner have you made your first coffee than it’s already the end of the day.
When we work on something monotonous, we often have the feeling that time has stood still. On the other hand, if we enjoy a project or if it is particularly challenging, we perceive eight hours much shorter. It is a well-known phenomenon that cognitive processes – thinking, mental work or learning – influence our sense of time. The sense of time is not an organ. This has its drawbacks on days that seemed chewy. But it also has advantages: The sense of time can be manipulated in our sense.
A faster clock improves brain performance
Researchers have just found that the porridge effect can be turned around. The result is that if time goes faster, it improves our brain performance. In a study by the Leibniz Institute for Labor Research at TU Dortmund University, 30 test subjects were asked to solve a complex task on the computer. At the beginning, the real time was shown, then it was accelerated by 20 percent and then slowed down by 20 percent.
It was found that the test subjects completed the task significantly better during the block with the faster clock. Using EEG measurements, the researchers were even able to show that brain activity was significantly increased compared to the other blocks. This could be related to the fact that the participants perceived the rather monotonous test task more positively because the time passed faster, explains study author Daniel Schneider.
Awesome, isn’t it? We should urgently use this effect – professionally and privately. And so.
1. Set yourself ambitious deadlines
Are you faced with a yawning boring task? Set a tight deadline – and simulate the fast clock. There are two hours to revise the presentation. A maximum of three for storage. And the housework will be four pages longer by tomorrow at the latest. Fictitious scenarios are helpful – for example, to imagine that the customer presentation will be tomorrow and not a week from now.
2. Don’t let troublemakers steal your time
Very few deliberately dawdle in their job. Nevertheless, troublemakers lurk everywhere in the office and when working at home, who secretly steal our time. And not only that: They interrupt us – which fits the flow that we want to achieve with our fast watch. This is the push notification on the smartphone. The regular check whether a new email has landed in the mailbox. Or the nice colleague who needs to talk.
Time wasters are particularly tempting when we are not in the mood for the task or project that is currently pending. Then the only thing left to do is to take strict action: ban your smartphone from the study. Turn off your email notifications. In very few cases the world will end if you don’t answer within half an hour. And honestly tell your colleague that this is not the time to small talk.
3. Don’t bother with little things
Here, too, the principle applies: Don’t let yourself be thrown out of the flow. Are you stuck at one point? Then she skips. Perfectionists who devote themselves to each of their tasks quickly reach their limits as soon as the clock is ticking. Move on to the next point instead of forever tweaking little things. If necessary, you can come back to this at a later date. You will see that after a short break you will come up with a solution to the problem much better than if you search doggedly for it.
4. Take breaks
That brings us to the next point: plan breaks in between and stick to them. That may sound contrary to a time limit at first. But it is not. Because it’s about taking specific breaks to give your head some rest. After he was able to concentrate on his work for a while.
That doesn’t mean grabbing your smartphone and checking the news. But consciously plan time to take a deep breath. What also helps: A time buffer to do things that occurred to you in between – but which of course you didn’t let yourself be distracted by.
A conscious time management helps you not to waste valuable hours. All the better if your brain power is also boosted, right?