How to Stop Life from Passing You By: the Weird Science of Stretching Time

image

One unnerving aspect of getting older is how life seems to start speeding up. Feeling that whoosh as time rushes past you can be disheartening as you wonder where the days, or months, or even years go.

Yet we’re not doomed to march to time’s relentless beat. Your sense of time is weird and pliable — stretching, compressing, coming to a standstill. And you can mold it, to some extent, to move to your own beat.

When you encounter the familiar, time seems to constrict and when you acquire new knowledge, it expands. Neuroscientist David Eagleman explains:

Time is this rubbery thing…. It stretches out when you really turn your brain resources on, and when you say, “Oh, I got this, everything is as expected,” it shrinks up.

That relationship between time’s elasticity and whether your brain is processing new information gets at why time seems to turn up the tempo as we age. As the world starts to become more familiar, we learn less and sometimes even seek information and experiences that fit within what we already know. There’s less adventure, play, exploration, creativity, and wonder to invite and engage with newness.

The way you spend your time influences how you perceive it. So the choices you make about what to do now impacts how you’ll manage your time later. Here are two ways to make your days richer and more memorable so that your sense of time expands and life doesn’t pass you by.

Continue Reading

The Lasting Power of Slow Gains

image

You’ll never walk into the gym and hear someone say, “You should do something easy today.” But after ten years of training, I think embracing slow and easy gains is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned.

In fact, this lesson applies to most things in life. It comes down to the difference between progress and achievement.

Let me explain:

Continue Reading

2013 iDoneThis List of Awesome

image

At iDoneThis, we aim to help people get more of the stuff that’s important to them done.  In 2013, individuals and teams who use iDoneThis accomplished some amazing things, so we thought we’d ask some of them to tell us about what they accomplished in 2013 that they’re proud of.

Their inspiring answers:

Continue Reading

Understanding How to Function at Your Best: defining positive psychology

Here at iDoneThis, we often talk about how principles of positive psychology can be used to improve our well-being and happiness at work. We wanted to go back to basics and get an expert to explain what positive psychology is and how it can help you live your life better. So we spoke with Dr. Stephen Schueller about defining positive psychology and what progress and timing have to do with living a good life.

imageDr. Schueller is a professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and member of the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies, where he works on developing internet and mobile interventions in behavioral and mental health service delivery. (This is the first installment of our interview. Head here for the second, 5 Reasons You Don’t Do What Really Makes You Happy).

Initially I think I misunderstood positive psychology as being all about positive thinking and positive emotions — and that’s really not what it’s about.

That’s definitely true. One of the things I really try to differentiate positive psychology from is this positive thinking movement, things like reading The Secret — where you think it, you’ll get it, or think positively and your life will be better. That’s not what positive psychology is about at all.

Lots of research shows that experiencing positive emotions is very beneficial, but that’s not really the point in positive psychology. Positive psychology is a movement focusing on trying to understand what optimal functioning means.

Continue Reading

Announcing the iDoneThis Newsletter and A Hammy, Bookish Giveaway

image

We put a lot of effort at iDoneThis into our content, because we write about what we care about: productivity, teamwork, creativity, and happiness at work. But as we quickly found, while quality content is vital, its life is incomplete without distribution, the pumping of publishing’s heart.

In these busy times, it’s as easy as blinking to miss one of our pieces amidst the fast current of content and an ocean of a squillion blog posts. We knew we could do a better job of delivering the best of our content to people who care about the same topics we do. So for us, the newsletter is the missing piece of the content network puzzle that somehow got lost under the couch cushions.

We’re particularly excited about the prospect of doing a better job of developing an iDoneThis community. The thing is, email is people. While spammingly and carelessly abused as a communication method, email can still be done well. And when it is, it can be a quieter channel that knocks on your door and leaves some homemade muffins for you if you’re not home.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE!

And since we’re pretty hammy (and not spammy!) here at iDoneThis, we’re giving away some awesome prizes for new subscribers who sign up for the newsletter by Sunday, August 18, 11:59 pm EST.

image

Continue Reading

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner’s Unconventional Meeting Technique

Silicon Valley is all about metrics, metrics, metrics. The numbers tell us what’s wrong, and then we fix them. That’s why I was surprised to learn that the CEO of one of the Valley’s flagship companies has a different perspective on what’s important to discuss at weekly staff meetings.

image

While Valley dogma says that meetings must be kept as short as possible and that discussions must focus on hard numbers and data, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner avoids talking about metrics at all when starting off meetings. Before getting down to focused business talk, Weiner actually requires every person in the room to share something that’s soft and mushy, not rigorous and quantifiable. He asks each of his direct reports to share their “wins” — “one personal victory and one professional achievement” — from the past week.

Continue Reading

Why Does Your Work Matter?

image

What’s the point of work? What are you working towards? Some people would say towards a paycheck, others might even say towards glory if they were being honest, but there are not so many who would say towards value and meaning.

In an illuminating TED talk about motivation at work, behavioral economist Dan Ariely says that people know that meaning is important but don’t grasp just how important it is. And for some reason that makes me think about how one of the most common deathbed regrets is wishing that you’d worked less, because at that stage, I’m guessing, what’s on your mind, what you’re reaching back for is the stuff that mattered.

Meaning, that connection to something larger than ourselves, is essential. But it is pushed aside in the often superficial yet tempting notions of self-improvement, that you’ll be better and happier, you’ll be a winner, when you’re fitter, faster, richer, thinner. And it slips away like a breeze from the principles of efficiency and productivity that continue to dominate the modern workplace despite persistent, crushing degrees of disengagement.

Getting motivation at work right seems like it will unlock success, but we pay a heavy price in not understanding that meaning is the master key.

Continue Reading