Lately it seems as if all that matters is speed: the speed at which you respond to text messages; the speed and extreme at which you multitask; the speed at which your devices connect to the Internet, and the speed at which news, economic crises and pandemics spread. Not to mention the trends for speed dating for anything from romantic partners to corporate consultants.
This speed that has swept us off our feet –literally and figuratively—is responsible not only for more than a few mistakes (sending off the wrong file before you checked the attachment, or misdirecting a text message) but also for our increased perception that time flies. That the day slips through your fingers and you’re hopeless; there’s nothing you can do to make your day last longer. If only we could have that 25th hour… Guess what? We’d obliterate it as carelessly as we manage to do with the other 24.
The only thing that can expand time is to stop doing and start being. If instead of running from one item on your list to the next, you focus on the task at hand (and I mean, really, really focus) you’d feel that time slows down. That’s what happens when you fish, for example. You sit there, in the outdoors, in the middle of a quiet lake, waiting. Waiting. Waiting. The silence and the lack of activity makes it feel like time expands and the day is very long. Afterwards you remember what the day felt like. You return home refreshed and calm. It works very much as a meditation.
Now think about what your regular day feels like in the evening or how you feel at the end of the week. I know that for me, most of the time I don’t even remember what I did that week; few things stand out. My days feel like an undifferentiated mass of emails, meetings, phone calls, Facebook updates… and what is worse, soon enough things begin to lose meaning. I start wondering, what am I doing all this for? How is all this hectic, crazy activity bringing me closer to my center, to my dreams, to my purpose in life?
So I’ve decided to go against the times; to go against what’s fashionable right now and focus on one thing at a time. To keep only one screen open on my computer and one file open in my mind. To be present when I’m engaged in an activity so that I can enjoy it as much as possible. To walk idly around Manhattan on a Sunday morning and breathe-in the fall air. To write a blog without checking my incoming mail. To prepare a presentation without running downstairs for a cup of tea before I finish. To talk on the phone without trying to read an article someone sent me.
And you know what? It immediately makes the 24 hours seem a lot more like 25! Try it and let me know how it goes!
You may want to check Ivana Castellanos blog on Studying and Relieving Stress