“[P]erceiving greater conflict between goals makes people feel time constrained, driven by increased stress and anxiety.”
– Jordan Etkin, Ioannis Evangelidis and Jennifer Aaker
Is finding more time in your day one of your goals? Many of us feel we need more than 24 hours a day, either because we can’t get everything done we need to or because we want more time to relax.
I just read a piece in the New York Times, How to Find More Time, by Anna North. While she doesn’t claim to know how to alter the fabric of time, she shares the results of a study suggesting that changing how we feel about our goals can alter our concept of time.
Jordan Etkin and her co-authors found that people who think about their goals as conflicting feel more anxiety and time pressure.
“When we feel more stress and anxiety in relation to our personal goals, that manifests as a sense of having less time.”
– Jordan Etkin
So what’s the solution? The Etkin study¹ found that breathing exercises (taking slow deep breaths) and reframing anxiety as excitement both reduced the feeling of time pressure.
To those suggestions I would add that you should carefully evaluate your priorities and whether your goals are actually in conflict. Some goals that initially seem to conflict may support each other, and by reframing the goals in your head, you may feel less stressed about meeting those goals.
For example, if you see today’s unexpected overtime as extra cash for a romantic dinner this weekend or to add to your vacation fund, you may feel less time pressure than if you focus on the overtime as taking time away from your family tonight.
“The answer is not finding more time to do it ALL. The secret, if there is one, is to start making more conscious choices that are in greater alignment with your values.”
– Rosetta Thurman
Of course, there are ways to make more time in your day as well. Today Courtney Carver published The Life Altering Practice of Making Cuts, which offers suggestions for creating a more meaningful life by making time for what counts instead of focusing on fitting it all in.
You may also want to read my earlier post, Need More Time?, which discusses finding more free time by re-examining how you spend your time. For instance, you may not count mindless television watching as free time, but that time is available for more fulfilling activities.
¹ This study is by a marketing professor, and its purpose is to give marketers ideas for getting consumers to spend more.
Yep, the study says that by getting consumers to perceive more conflict between their goals, they’ll pay more to have things done faster.
On the other hand, they’re less likely to wait in line or wait for an upgrade, so in that case, consumers should, the study suggests, encourage “consumers to take deep breaths or reappraise their anxiety as excitement.”