While there is no way to change the rate at which time passes, there are many ways to adjust our mental perception of time. While we’ve suspected this was the case, there was an article that talked about this concept in rats. We’re rarely interested in any sort of scientific proofs since they are always behind the times. But. In this case we found the article interesting since it gave a few actionable ideas. Instead of rehashing the ideas, we’ll provide our own strategy to speed up or slow down the passing of time.
Fun or Boredom: One of the basic concepts is obvious. Time goes by quickly when you’re having fun and it slows down when you’re bored out of your mind. Taking this to extremes. If you were to go out and party (black out drunk) you quite literally lose chunks of time. On the other extreme if we forced you to participate in Chinese Water Torture (one drop on your head every few seconds), time would freeze. We used these two extremes to conceptualize ways to speed up and slow down time. Oddly a lot of our opinions on how to design your life takes this concept into account. So with that we can jump in.
Travel as Primary High End Entertainment: Generally speaking, we prefer traveling to new destinations as a way to “splurge” or burn money on fun. This is a lifestyle choice as you could choose to buy a fast car (insert other luxury items). We’ve pushed our readership in this direction since it causes “time stamps” in your brain. If you go to the exact same location over and over again it will not create memory markers. A good example of this is how many states have “standard” vacation destinations (Western Europe, Mexico, Florida, Hawaii etc.). If you were to follow the herd and only vacation in the same 3-5 places, the years would blend together. Sure, maybe you stayed at a slightly different hotel but that is not going to make a meaningful impact on your memory system. An entirely new city and Country is much more likely to create a time stamp.
Counter Example – Consumerism: Naturally, this above paragraph conflicts directly with what everyone else is doing. Most of them will spend their time hanging out with the exact same people, going to the same part of town and taking vacations in the exact same cities (this group lives in this are of town and when they hit 30 they move to xyz area of town). They get a quick boost of dopamine when they purchase some new widget and then go to the same club/bar where they know the exact same people. This creates a feedback loop in the opposite direction. The lifestyle is encouraged and 3-5 years later nothing has changed. This is why most people have a crisis at around age 35 when nothing has changed and a full decade has passed (now we have the reason for why it feels that way).
Online Income: This is a common topic for our blog and is another part of lifestyle design. You can get rich in many ways (real estate, brick and mortar, online, careers etc.). The benefit of online income is the portability. If you’re not tied down to a specific location it makes it significantly harder to be trapped into a routine. Compare this to a long commuter. If you’re forced to drive the same 30 minute route on a boring straight freeway every single day, the time will just blur together. Maybe the colors of the cars change but the events are hard to remember. You’ll remember a few strange days when there was an accident or unusual event. But. It will all end up blurring away without recollection of the year (time stamp).
Counter Example- Stable Career: First of all we don’t view a Career as stable since you’re simply a line item in an excel sheet. But. For fun we’ll say that it is stable. This would be exactly opposite to a location free job. You’re going to the same location, in the same city over and over again. The time seems to blur together since the office looks the same, the people may change (but are forgotten in a few weeks once they leave anyway) and the daily routine is exactly the same as well! There are only so many places to eat and drink within 10-15 minutes of the same pin pointed dot on a map. This creates a natural trap to feel like each year is exactly the same so the perception of time is warped once again.
Create Gaps: Another interesting item here is our general suggestion to create jumps/gaps. We think this also adjusts our perception of time. Instead of trying to “spread out the pain” which is what normal people do, you want to condense the pain. The goal of any reader on this website is to be rich by their 30s not their 60s. This means the pain of 30 years of work needs to be condensed into a short decade at maximum. Funny enough, by condensing the pain you’ll feel like the first 3-5 years “dragged on and took forever”. When you’re done, you won’t be old at all! This is probably one of the mental hurdles that most people can’t jump because they feel like they have been working for more than 10 years even though it has only been two (mental mind game).
Counter Example – Create Stair Steps: By *mapping* something out you’ve naturally created a flow of time or “life math”. Go to school, study, go to college, get some debt, get a good job, pay off the debt, get married at 28-32, have kids, scramble for retirement, retire, die. The map doesn’t even look interesting to begin with but this is the “solution” sold to practically every American. Needless to say we disagree. A better way to do it is by creating gaps as we’ve said since you really don’t know what is going to happen in 10 years. Seriously, it is difficult to predict. Will your “stable career” be around? Who knows. Will you have a new idea in the next year? Who knows. Real life is a lot more complicated than the boring life ladder sold to everyone at age 18.
Event Based Income: As always, no one gets rich working for someone else (Doctors, Lawyers etc.). Everyone can complain all they like but if they run the factual numbers they will find that this is the case. Event based income is quite different. It’s not easy to forget 1) the first time you started a company, 2) the first time you sold a company and 3) the second idea you started… so on and so forth. Coincidentally, this creates a natural feedback loop for your experience in relation to time. If you are working on something new (or exiting something) it creates definitive hard dates for each event. In fact, a new SKU is more memorable than a promotion at a career since you’ll be actively seeing how well it sells (or doesn’t sell!). New promotions *rarely* change functions, your business card just has different words on it.
Counter Example – Time Based Income: This is the worst item since it is essentially a drug. Time based income is not memorable. If you work longer hours to earn the income you 1) associate time with money creation and 2) the time seems to feel longer than it is. Anyone who has worked a 16 hour day knows the last 3-4 hours feels MUCH longer than the first 3-4 hours. A horrible cocktail. Each day at work seems to be longer as the person waits for the check to hit in two weeks. In addition, associating time with money is probably the worst item since no one gets rich by selling their time for money.
Create Pauses: Another interesting one we do that conflicts with norms is taking pauses instead of celebrating. Most people get their first big win (a good bonus check or something similar) and go out to celebrate. Instead we try to do the reverse. If you receive a large amount of money or accomplish something, instead of going out to party we’d go out and hit an extremely low key area. Island life is generally an area where time slows down and we would recommend doing that instead. Time feels like it stops on islands since the pace is a lot slower, it is not a concrete jungle (sections of the island are distinctively different) and the weather seems to impact the perception of time as well (probably because night-time is brighter due to lower pollution and brighter stars in the sky).
Counter Example – Hit the Clubs: The common reaction is to celebrate hard. Blow $X at a certain venue, drink and toast to the occasion. While people are free to do what they want when they make it, the psychological impact is a bit of an overkill. If you make your first pot of gold, the party experience will just blend in (Example: if you party for all of your birthdays you won’t remember which one was which). We’ve said it before but we’ll say it again. The dopamine you get from becoming financially independent is not matchable. Instead of diluting the dopamine rush, let it run through as you’re in a slow environment giving your brain time to relax. (Note: we don’t expect anyone to listen to this advice and instead expect that everyone does the same thing – party hard the first time, it’s human psychology after all).
Avoid Routines: Even if you’re not making money online (yet) and you’re working in a career, you can do a lot of things to avoid routines. The most obvious ones include: 1) changing the days you do laundry, 2) avoiding the same wardrobe, 3) changing the location of your workouts, 4) changing the people you meet for coffee and 5) changing the type of books you’re reading. All of these items are basic but anyone can do them. The most important one is probably books. If you’re not in a good position (money wise) reading is a highly correlated item to wealth since the average CEO reads around 4-5 books a month vs. your average guy who reads practically none.
Counter Example – Same Old: Your typical guy does the same stuff every day. We wrote a basic tweet that said ~4 hours of TV/Movies was enough for a month and people flipped out saying we were against entertainment. Seriously. People really believe that the only forms of entertainment are movies, sports and TV. We don’t even want to know how awfully boring their lives are. TV/movies/video games etc are all time sucks with no real incremental value. Sure you can indulge here and there. But. Please don’t try to convince someone that it’s a net positive (unless somehow related to making money, i.e. pro video gamers can play as much as they can). It’s amazing how addicted people become to this routine, probably because there are limited options for any sort of entertainment under $10 a month. That said. Their time should be spent reading and learning how to make money if this is really the only form of fun and entertainment they have. (After re-reading all the negative comments, it makes us even more convinced that investing in next generation entertainment is brilliant. If average people will defend it to death, they will blow their paychecks on it for sure. Great businesses!)
Anything over an hour a week on these is just terrible:
1) watching sports
2) movies/video games
3) arguing with regulars on the internet
As much hate as it gets, partying hard is a much more entertaining proposition and at least improves sales skills.
— Wall Street Playboys (@WallStPlayboys) August 30, 2018
Space Utilization: This is going to be an unpopular one. For an odd reason we’ve realized that tight spaces create a feeling of time slowing down. Similarly, large spaces create the feeling of time speeding up. We’re not sure why this is the case but anyone who has been stuck on an airplane as it waits in a long line for takeoff knows exactly what this feels like. If you sit in business class or even in economy class with no one next to you, the wait seems to be shorter! We have no idea why this is but it also seems to relate to why small islands feel “slower”. If this is true… we all know what to do. When you’re trying to work on something with a very short deadline, work in a cramped closed dark area. If you’re trying to work on something more artsy and creative, try to stay outside. Now that we’ve written that out, it also explains why offices are designed with cubicles (tighter spaces for focused work) while the creative people are in larger offices since that is their job.
Counter Example – Bigger is Better: This is more of an American phenomenon. Where big is always considered better: taller, more floor space, higher ceilings etc. We’re taking the other side of the coin and saying it’s not always better. It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. If you’re trying to be creative and create motion, bigger is better. If you’re trying to focus and get something done, a tighter area will force you to focus (so you’re “allowed” to leave the area once done).
Conceptual Overview: Since we cannot control actual time, we can certainly control our perception of it. If you want to feel like each year was unique and you want to get things done more efficiently we’ll outline the following bullets: 1) create time stamps by focusing on unique destinations, 2) avoid routines and rejigger them on a monthly basis or so, 3) use space to decide what projects to work on, 4) use islands and slow areas to elongate a successful event, 5) use high paced scenes as entertainment as they are more likely to create a time stamp than conventional entertainment – shows/movies etc, 6) read a lot (if you haven’t made it yet) to make time feel slower and get ahead and 7) continue to think of ways to warp your perception of time (journaling is one we recommend). Good luck and let us know if you have other ways to alter the feeling of time.
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