How to slow down time, part two

13 October 2016

If you read my first post about time and thought, “I’d really like to feel time isn’t flying by, but unfortunately I do,” then this post is for you! In addition to injecting novelty into my life, there are a few other habits and behaviors that have helped me feel less busy and less helpless about the passing of time. I came across an article while researching this topic that perfectly put into words several of them, so I’m going to rely on it to help me explain — but definitely read the whole thing for yourself, too!

how to slow down time

Flip the script. Try your darndest not to reply with “busy, but good” when people ask how you’ve been. (Instead, get specific and tell them about something you have going on!) Words have power, and can become self-fulfilling prophecies. If you’re constantly saying you’re busy (out loud, or, equally importantly, in your own head), of course you’re going to feel busy! From the article: “We can choose how we think about our time. Talking about how crazed and busy we feel can reinforce the feeling that time is scarce, but to what end? Says Duenckel: ‘Everyone is stressed. Everyone is busy, and there is no point competing because that is silly, and we never really gain anything anyway.'”

Determine your priorities. When I feel overwhelmed and like I don’t have enough time, I try to stop, get out a piece of paper, and write down all the to dos that are swimming in my mind. Even that initial step is helpful, because I eventually get to the end of the list and realize it’s not endless, even if it feels that way! :) Then, I look through the whole list and star the things that actually have to get done THAT day or THAT evening, and just start plowing through them. Knowing that there are only a few things that HAVE to get done seems more doable and gives me the confidence to get started, and the focus and determination I gain as I check things off means I usually have enough momentum to check off even a few “extras,” too.

Start from abundance. From the article: “Learn to embrace a paradox: Time is precious and plentiful. To have as much time as you need for the things you want, you need to be ruthless about not filling time with things you don’t care about.” YES! So true, but so difficult sometimes. It’s a lot easier to scroll through Instagram or watch TV (because those things are habits or easily accessible) than pull out a book, work on a project, call a friend, or take a bath. So often, if we’re being honest with ourselves, we have the time — we just don’t use it well. This is probably the habit I struggle with the most, and one reason why I love camping. Again, from the article: “If you want to feel like you have all the time in the world, try not turning on the TV, phone, or computer some night. See how slowly the time passes if you just go outside to stare at the stars.” SO TRUE.

A final thought, and then we’ll move on to another topic for now :) Sarah asked on my first post whether I had any good responses to the “time is flying” comments. My favorite is the most honest: “Actually, I don’t really feel like time is flying – the pace has felt really nice to me recently!” This usually takes the questioner back a bit, and leads to a more interesting conversation than we might have had if we had just stayed on the surface of the routine back-and-forth.

I’d love to hear if y’all use any of these strategies, or if you have a different one that works for you!!

How to slow down time, part one
Rituals, traditions, and the perception of time

16 Responses to “How to slow down time, part two”

  1. Kelly

    Absolutely love your thoughts on this Em. I can’t wait to read the article, and start putting into practice some of these habits. Because its so very true, we have as much time as we allow ourselves.

  2. Thank you so sharing this! I really think this is so important especially now when I feel like busyness is everyone’s least favorite thing but also something people almost use to brag?

  3. Love the answer you give and it is so true – we all have time, we just need to prioritize what’s most important. :) I love camping for that reason too – it instantly slows down time to be outside under the stars away from tv, computers, and phones. :) Love this series, Em!

  4. I’ve recently moved to a new city, started a new job and moved into a new place– so needless to say I’ve been feeling extremely busy! definitely taking your advice on just writing everything down and prioritizing– I’ve already realized that I spend way too much time on social media!!

  5. Kelly Strawberry

    Love reading your thoughts on this. I don’t watch TV, but sometimes I waste hours in the evening just scrolling through Facebook on the couch, and then make comments like “I never have time to read anymore.” I’m one month away from Cam’s first birthday, and it does feel like just yesterday that I was going into labor. I think I need to take some intentional steps like the ones you mention here. Thanks for sharing!!

  6. Em

    Haha Kelly, I sometimes find myself doing a version of that exact scenario!! So just know that I write this not as someone who’s figured everything out, but someone who is also on the journey! :)

  7. Amanda

    Your blog is one of my favorites! I love your recent series of posts about slowing down time so much that I am commenting for the first time. Thank you for such a relevant, life-changing topic!


    I was just about to say the same! Em, I really enjoy your balanced perspective on many things and I have so enjoyed this series of posts especially. The topic of time (along with similar ideas like goal setting, daily routines, being present, etc.) is something that I think about a lot and I love the idea of re-framing the conversation. My husband and I have opposite work schedules and I’ve especially been thinking about this as we consider a baby in the near future. I’m looking forward to putting some of these things into practice!

    My tips in addition to yours are to do some house cleaning each day instead of a big clean on the weekend – I now have a generally clean house all the time and don’t feel like cleaning sucks up my weekend. I found a great 30-day calendar for this on Apartment Therapy. I also get all my work stuff, lunch, and breakfast ready the night before. I’m a morning person, but I don’t move very fast in the morning, so this saves several actual minutes!

  8. Em

    Wow, Amanda! Thank you for such a lovely comment! So glad to have you as a reader, and happy to hear you loved the post!

  9. Emma

    Hi, Emily! Thank you for sharing! I just returned to work full-time after being home with my newborn. He is now 10 weeks and I would say that the past 10 weeks went by at a normal pace. But, now…! The weekend is full of me trying to be intentional with my time with my baby and my husband and my dog and I really need to clean the house! I feel so frazzled and like I did not achieve my goal of being intentional since there was so much to do in a short period of time. How did you handle being intentional with time when you returned to work after June? Thanks!

  10. Em

    Hi Emma! Congratulations to you!! I think your question warrants a full post in response, because I have many thoughts, but the short answer is that I’m ruthless about cutting things that don’t matter from my life so that in this season I have time for what does matter. For example, I do the absolute bare minimum in terms of cleaning :) I also try to maximize the time I have after June goes to bed to accomplish “screen-based” to dos (email, blogging, updating our budget, etc.). (I make a big distinction between screen-based and “real world” tasks, which was a big aha for me after reading this article: I don’t mind doing “real world” tasks when June’s around, like cooking or cleaning, and I think we can have intentional time together even if we’re engaged in a task.) I hope that gives you some food for thought until I have time to put together a more complete post! :)

  11. Emma

    Thank you, Em! I appreciate it and am also excited to have inspired a full post :D.
    So glad to hear that someone else agrees “real world” tasks count as spending time together. For example, while blow-drying my hair today I was also hanging out with baby and enjoying making him smile. I definitely count that as a great morning!

  12. Susan

    That list thing really works, Em, but I am truly amazed at how PURPOSEFULLY you put your energy into feeling the stress and dealing with it. And, practice makes better, right? Thanks for your words!

  13. kayla

    i really loved reading jessica turner’s fringe hours. she talks so articulately about how it’s a matter of choosing to find the time in your schedule for things you love instead of always dismissing it all away because you’re too busy. i admire her so much because she works full-time outside the home, is married with 3 kids and has a ton of hobbies. her perspective is so refreshing to me because i feel like i so often hear “oh i don’t even have time to watch TV!” or “i don’t have time to read.” it’s all about using your time well! :)


    I have heard great things about Jessica’s book. You’ve convinced me to finally add it to my list! :)