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Can you make ‘time fly’ at work?

Everyone knows that ‘time flies when you are having fun’, but is this really the case or are there other factors at play?

The human brain has different clocks, each monitoring their own way of telling the time. One clock monitors the time of day, so you know when it is time to get up or time to go to sleep, and another monitors how current time is passing. It is the clock that follows how current time is passing that is particularly of interest when investigating why time seems to fly on some occasions.

This clock is like a ticker that beats the time inside your head, and counting these ticks enables you to monitor of how much time has passed. This is why you may often be aware how far through the working day you are, or how near a set time frame you are, without having to check your watch. How accurate a measure of time is it?

When you are bored, you do not have anything to distract you and you notice every tick of the clock. As with the saying ‘a watched pot never boils’, having no distractions means you are more likely to pay attention to time passing, which makes it seem to be going by very slowly.

If you are having fun, you are usually focused on what you are doing and are less aware of the ticks. When ticks have gone unnoticed, you feel that less time has passed, even if the reality is that hours have gone by.

There is evidence to indicate that not only does time seem to fly when you are having fun but also that you feel you are having more fun if you believe time is flying. For a scientific study, one clock was set to run faster than it should and another clock was set to run slower than it should. Participants of the study said they felt they were having a more enjoyable time when the clock ran faster and less fun when time seemed to drag.

This shows that how fast or slow time moves is a matter of perception. If you are occupied and your attention is elsewhere, you are less likely to notice the tick-tock of your mind’s clock and time will pass more quickly. Activities with an end goal are especially good at making time go quickly; therefore, concentrating on projects and tasks with a deadline can indeed seem to make time fly at work.

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