Is time management an employee well being issue?
Is time management an employee well being issue?
Understanding how you perceive the passage of time may be the key to successful time management.
If you were unfortunate enough to witness a crime, how confident are you that you would be able to accurately describe the perpetrator? Can you accurately assess the difference between someone who is 5ft 11in tall and weighs 200lbs, and someone who is 6ft 2in tall but weighs 140lbs? How we perceive weight and height has an impact on how we describe the people that we see.
Perceptions of distance can be the cause of in-car disagreements. A passenger may perceive that the car is too close to the car in front, but the driver may be very comfortable with the stopping distance.
The same is true of time, we all perceive the passage of time differently, and that says Marc Wittmann, a psychological research fellow at the Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Health in Freiburg, Germany, and the author of Felt Time: The Psychology of How We Perceive Time (MIT Press), on which this week’s free guide to understanding how we utilise time is based, is the reason why some people are better at managing time than other people.
The way in which we interpret time is not a static process, it is influenced, and can change as we age or as we find ourselves in different situations.
We are not born with an understanding of time, so young children find it difficult to understand that something they are waiting for, like Christmas is a decreasing number of sleeps away.
Teenagers want instant gratification, as anyone who has taken on a school-leaver knows only too well!
Older people can also be very impatient, perhaps because they understand how much time has passed in their lives and they perceive their future to be limited.
Time spent at work can seem to drag, but our weekends all seem to pass too quickly.
The subjective nature of time and the boredom which appears to make time pass slowly increases as we gain competence in work activities and settle into routines.
That is when we expand work to fit the time available.
The secret to a fulfilled career and a long happy life in which time expands to fit requirements of work or other activities is variety and change.
This is perhaps why our holidays seem to be over so quickly, we are in a different environment with days full of new and interesting activities and experiences, there just isn’t enough time to fit it all in!
Our sense of time may be connected to how our hearts work which creates our own internal clock. However, it is unlikely that our internal clocks are defined by purely physical body functions.
It can, says Wittmann, be influenced by whether we seek instant or deferred gratification. Impulsive decision makers, people who are more likely to seek instant gratification are also more likely to be bored easily.
Boredom itself is often a matter of time, that influences how our personal internal clocks measure the passage of time.
This internal clock also dictates our perception of how long different activities will take, because they are based on brain rhythms that sets our natural speed, and differentiate quick people from those who may be perceived as being slow, or overly relaxed in situations that other people see as stressful.
We can see how this works when different people are waiting for a bus that is late. One person will perceive a wait of three minutes as being much longer, but another person will interpret the same delay as nothing to worry about.
One of the things that new managers learn is that time is the one resource under their control that they really have no control over. They can merely manage how they use the time that they have available.
Time management becomes the art of balancing priorities, and learning who they can put off and who they must not.
Despite this many people still see time management as an objective mechanical process, ignoring the subjective emotional aspects which seem to change with the passage of time.
Becoming a master level practitioner in any time management tool will not, suggests Wittman lead to perfect time management unless you also practice mindfulness that he says can reduce the speed of life and help us gain more time.
Time management is perhaps an employee well-being issue?
Perhaps it is my enjoyment of writing about this week’s free guide that has created the impression that the time available to complete this task is just too short..
The free guide focuses on explaining
- how the brain experiences time,
- why subjective time passes at varying rates and
- how being more mindful can help us make the most of the time we have available.
Wittmann provides answers to questions like:
- How long is a present moment?
- How does the brain synthesize a series of discrete moments into a continuous flow?
- Why does time appear to move faster and slower in different situations?
You can download this week’s free guide about understanding the psychology of how we perceive time is available from this link
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