Are Your Internet Habits Skewing Your Sense of Time?

warpspeed.jpgI have time issues. I’m not alone, either. No, I’m not talking about the ability to manage the available time I have. I’m talking about my sense of time and dealing with a lightening-speed virtual world and a much more sedate “real life” environment.

If you’ve ever:

  • Grown impatient that someone hasn’t answered your email in less than 5 hours
  • Have to think twice about what day it is
  • Look up from your keyboard only to realize two hours passed by…

…then you have time issues, too.

The sense of time is skewed in the virtual world. One day feels like two weeks. 10 minutes feels like an hour. Faster, faster, faster… and your brain just can’t cope.

So your brain blinks out. Sometimes it burns out completely. Day turns into night before you know it. Night becomes day. You sleep at odd hours. A week passes and you realize that you have no idea where that week went. People gape at you when you ask them what day it is. The 20th? The 24th? You have no clue.

A skewed sense of time can be a problem, too. Your tolerance levels lower and you grow impatient more quickly. Waiting becomes a struggle, and you probably feel like you should be doing something instead of sitting there. You might be late for appointments, because you hyper-focused and lost track of time. You might nag at someone to complete a task or to make a payment only to realize that only a day has passed.

What’s the solution? Slow the hell down, people.

It’s important to maintain the realistic sense of time passing, easily ignored when you’re in The Zone and moving at high speed. A skewed sense of time creates a sense of anxiety, confusion and stress. It’s no wonder that people burn out these days faster than rubber tires peeling out on an empty street.

What’s the rush?
Ask yourself what the rush is all about. Do you feel like you might miss that chance of a lifetime? Have to answer that email right now? Racing to be the first commentator? Relax. Life isn’t all about some wires and an LCD monitor. You might even find that asking yourself what the rush is and taking a good hard look at the answer helps you re-prioritize what matters in life. It isn’t winning some virtual race against the clock.

Force yourself to take a break
Living in high gear is more habit than anything. We teach ourselves to move faster and unconsciously reinforce that pattern of behavior by pushing to do more in less time. Break the addiction to speed. Each time you have to do something, force yourself to take a break. Walk around the house three times. Turn on the TV for a few minutes. Pick up a book. Teach your mind that minutes are to be savored and appreciated, not jammed full of activity.

Look ahead at your future
Picture yourself sitting on that big porch at 80 years old, watching the sun go down. Imagine rocking gently back and forth, at peace with the world. Your life’s almost over. You’re looking back on your past and thinking over everything you’ve accomplished. Will you be proud to say to yourself, “I never did get to reach my dream of (insert personal goal here) but I sure as hell was fast… Hey, what day are we?”

It’s a real cliché, but life is passing us by, and faster than ever. Slow down. Appreciate what you have, and remember what you wanted to be in life. Put the mouse down for a minute – the sky won’t fall in, lightening won’t strike you dead, and the universe won’t collapse.

Now go breathe for a minute. Take the time to live.

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.