How we have lost the sense of time in this pandemic
If I ask you what day it is, could you answer without looking into your calendar? Feels weird, right?
You are not alone, who is finding it difficult to keep track of the days. For many people whose schedules were upended by this pandemic, time seems to move differently. Days go flying by without any sense of acknowledgment.
The paradox seems to be that time feels really long and really short at once nowadays. The duration seems to be really long while you’re actually going through the days, but then when you hit the end of the week or the end of the month, you question yourself, “Where the hell a whole week had gone by?”
We are experiencing time distortion because we have lost our normal reference to time. This is because we perceive time with the things happening to us in the day. We tend to find empty periods of time (no distinct event), to be boring and we feel it moves slowly. But, when you look back at time at the end of the week, if there were few events/ tasks over the week, it seems like the week went really fast.
Our perception of time is closely linked to attention. The more attention you pay to time, the longer it seems. In contrast, when your attention is fixated to some task, time moves swiftly.
If you perform exciting or notable events during the week, the period seems to be long in retrospect.
Unfortunately, this pandemic has taken away a big chunk of exciting events from us — like hanging out with friends, going on trips, interacting with your colleagues in offices, or playing games, etc. This has contributed in making our days self-occupied, full of dull events, filled with monotonous work resulting in a feel of stretched days and short weeks. Days spent shut indoors feel long but add up to very little in hindsight, making the months of routines feel very short.
Another important point contributing to this strangeness of time right now is the uncertainty about when the pandemic will come to an end. Normal day life seems to be a distant future. This is starting to feel an endless tunnel and the darkness/ uncertainty is eating us from inside. Not having that endpoint can make time stretch on.
So how can we bring back the sense of time during this pandemic? The thing that I found is until things get back to normal, try learning something new, do something exciting or stupid, like writing such an article.