Remember how you used to feel stuck quarantined indoors with nothing much to do? Time seemed to drag on and on, as you waited desperately for the day to end.
Well, there’s nothing worse than sitting around bored or with nothing to do, waiting out the clock.
Whether you’re in a meeting that’s bored you to the bones or in the office with no mood to work, you’ll find yourself looking at the clock, counting every passing second, but time just seems like it’s dragging on and on.
If you’re having a slow day at work and wondering how to make time go faster, this post is for you. We share:
- Why time feels slow or faster at work
- Insanely effective tips to make time go by faster
Why Does Time Feel Slow or Faster at Work?
Consider these three scenarios:
- “It’s already Friday? This week flew by!”
- “Oh no, the party’s already over?”
- “It’s Wednesday? This week is slow!”
The first and second occur when you’re busiest, and your mind is occupied by work or fun. The second is when you have a slow day, a boring job, or your productivity levels have plummeted.
The interesting thing about time is that it doesn’t go slower or faster. Time is constant. The speed? Not so much, it is all our perception.
According to scientists, time goes faster or slower depending on what else is going on. When you’re having fun, you’re so preoccupied that you don’t realize the passing of time. On the flip side, when you have nothing to do, “time can dilate and actually feel it has been a lot longer in duration,” states neuroscientist Muireann Irish from the University of Sydney.
Marc Wittman, a German psychologist, adds that who we are influences our perception of time. According to evidence from his experiments, our level of sensing time accurately becomes fuzzy after five seconds.
In one experiment, Wittman forced people to sit in a room without doing anything for 7.5 minutes. Some thought they had stayed for 2.5 minutes, while the impulsive type felt like it was 20 minutes.
Now we know why:
- Time seems to fly when our minds are occupied and busy, with a limited amount of attention to the clock.
- Time seems to be particularly slow when you’re anticipating something, like kids waiting to open their Christmas gifts or a weekend trip next month.
- Your mind may perceive time as going slower when you have negative or unpleasant feelings. A good example is when you’ve had a tough or stressful day at work and can’t wait for the workday to end. Time also seems to go in slow motion when you have to participate in a meeting with boring presentations.
Other things that might contribute to the feeling that your workday is sluggish include:
- Poor work-life balance
- Inability to focus at work
- Lack of purpose
13 Insanely Effective Tips to Make Time Go Faster
When bored, it can be tempting to get distracted. However, you can focus on how to make work go by faster by engaging in activities that make you more productive.
1. Avoid staring at the clock and counting the minutes
As inevitable as it sounds, trying not to stare at the watch every five seconds will reduce the level of disappointment when you realize very little time has passed by. The more you focus your attention on the clock, the slower the time will appear to move.
Your best option is to focus on something else entirely. And trust us when we say, there are plenty of things you can do to kill time at work.
2. Take initiative
Say you complete a task early and have several hours left on your workday. Instead of sitting there, twiddling your thumbs, consider taking on more responsibility. Approach your boss/supervisor or chat them up (if you work remotely) and ask if there’s something you can do.
One study by Udemy indicates that 43 percent of US employees feel bored or disengaged at work – making them 2x more likely to quit their jobs. 30 percent of these workers cite not having enough work to do as the top reason for feeling bored at work.
Instead of complaining about how you don’t have enough to do, how about letting your team leader know when your workload isn’t enough to keep you busy?
Not only does taking initiative prove your value to the company and makes you an asset, it will also keep you engaged and invested in your job.
Pro tip: Think of things you can do to improve your work or become more helpful. List them and ask your manager for approval.
3. Or look for a new job
You may have reached a point where you find your job less challenging or interesting. Or you could be struggling with poor life-work balance and burnout. In such cases, finding a new job can be a more effective way of using time.
To be clear, we aren’t advocating job hunting on company time. Your company is likely using employee monitoring software, and the chances of getting caught and fired are high. If you’re allowed to use your personal laptop or smartphone at work, you can search for jobs during your lunch break.
It might also be a great time to update your resume with new skills and qualifications, along with achievements you’ve accomplished along the way.
4. Get up and walk
Sometimes, all you need to renew your energy is stepping outside the office for a short walk. If you work from home, you may take a walk by the river or beach, in the park, or go grocery shopping.
Alternatively, you can visit a coworker or coworking buddy for a quick chat (as long as you’re not interrupting their work, of course).
5. Find a time management technique that works for you
When thinking of ways to make work go by faster, managing your time well probably comes to mind. Time management techniques help you organize your day and work smarter instead of harder. For example:
- Time blocking involves dividing your workday into smaller blocks of time. You then specify tasks to focus on during each block of time. During this time, you don’t allow any interruptions or disruptions. Time blocking pushes you to achieve results faster by single-tasking. Choose a time block that works best for you. You could start with the Pomodoro technique, where you alternate 20-minute work sessions with 5-minute breaks.
- Task batching is another efficient time management technique. It entails grouping similar tasks and using time blocks to accomplish them.
- Eat the Frog Technique is especially effective for overcoming procrastination. With this time management method, you tackle the most important tasks first. So, you begin by prioritizing tasks, starting with the hardest, biggest, or most important. Accomplishing these tasks early in the day creates a feeling of accomplishment and motivates you to handle the least important or easiest tasks later in the day.
These are just some of the time management techniques you can implement to keep your workday organized and your time properly utilized.
6. Keep a to-do list
Most people create to-do lists to help them plan their workdays better. To-do lists create a roadmap of how your day looks and might be an effective way to manage time and prevent tasks from slipping your mind.
Researchers E.J. Masicampo and Roy F. Baumeister talk about the psychology behind to-do lists in detail. According to their research, once a person commits to a specific plan of action to complete a task, they tend to think less about that task. So, by creating a roadmap to guide us to attain our goals, we are more likely to focus on those areas that will get us there.
Of course, to-do lists don’t go far enough toward committing you to perform the tasks. That takes discipline. However, they are beneficial: First, to-do lists serve as reminders for things you need to accomplish. Second, they force you to come up with a plan of what actions need to be taken and when to complete those tasks.
It’s also worth noting that creating a to-do list is effortful, meaning it will demand more focus, and thus stop you from obsessing over time.
7. Put on some favorite tunes
There’s something about music that influences brain functionality. According to the journal Scientific Reports, music helps inspire a different state of mind. The researchers found that listening to music you like improves emotional adjustments and lessens anxiety and depression.
So, when you’re feeling like the day is dragging on, what better way to speed up time than to listen to music you enjoy?
8. Practice Deep Work
Time does always seem to fly when you’re focused on something, doesn’t it? That’s the benefit of deep work.
Deep work is that state of peak concentration where you focus on demanding tasks. This skill teaches you to focus in a distraction-free environment to produce better quality work quickly.
Deep work can help you significantly maximize your output in less time. It builds momentum and enables you to get into the flow state or “in the zone” to reach your peak performance of achieving a specific task, and nothing else.
The last thing on your mind will be to check what time it is. Before you know it, you’ll be winding up your day.
9. Switch up your day
When your day feels slow, and you’re bored to death, think of innovative ways to work. For example, if you work from home, you can get out of the house and work from a coworking space.
You could also use this time to evaluate your time usage. If you use time-tracking software, you can easily retrieve data showing how much time you’ve been spending on meetings, emails, time-wasting apps and websites, projects, and tasks.
Analyze these reports and start making adjustments to your schedule for improved efficiency. Maybe you can save some time by delegating or automating specific tasks, like emails. Or, you can outsource certain work activities to reliable partners.
10. Catch up or get ahead
Slow days provide the perfect opportunity to tackle the personal tasks you’ve been putting off. Since you can’t normally handle them during the workweek, you can start working on them after you complete a day’s tasks.
Likewise, if you have a bigger project with a longer timeline, now’s the time to chip away at the segments of the project. Giving a future project a head start means you’ll have less work when it becomes a high priority and the deadline is looming.
11. Develop your skills
Self-improvement habits can change your life and make you more valuable to your employers or clients. One such habit to improve yourself is to learn. There are so many ways to develop your skills. The easiest is to take advantage of self-improvement resources, such as reading a book, listening to podcasts and Ted Talks, watching educational videos on YouTube, and so on.
You can learn news and insights related to your industry, or you could look for bizarre talks to entertain your brain.
Even better, sign up for an online course on sites like Udemy, MasterClass, or Coursera where you receive certification upon completion. Consider asking your employer if they are willing to cover the cost of your training or at least offer financial assistance. Most employers understand the value of investing in employee training and might oblige.
12. Stick a motivational quote on your desk
Did you know that we work harder when we are happy? One research from the University of Warwick found that happiness made employees 12 percent more productive at work. Happiness leads to workplace satisfaction, and when you enjoy doing your work, you won’t be bored while wondering how to make time go faster.
So, find motivational quotes to inspire you and stick a few on your desk. They might prove helpful during slow days at work.
13. Learn new shortcuts
You can improve your work efficiency by learning a few shortcuts. For example, pro Linux users work better by mastering the terminal shortcuts. Most of the productivity tools you use support the usage of keyboard shortcuts that can save you hundreds of hours every year.
Try to learn a few each time you feel bored or while waiting for the workday to end.
Make Time Go Faster at Work Using Traqq
Scheduling your workday gives you more control over your time. Knowing exactly how and where to spend your time will save you from procrastination, which usually ends up in time wastage.
By tracking the time you spend working, you’ll be able to monitor your time usage habits and devise ways to be more efficient. Traqq is one of the best time trackers to monitor your work activities and eliminate time wastage. It’s simple to use and comes loaded with all the features you need to improve your time management skills and boost your productivity.