You hear people ask, “Why does time fly so much faster than it used to?”  It feels like time is running past so quickly. Holidays and major life events seem as if they arrive right on top of each other. Yet as fast as it seems time flies, some recent events (i.e. meeting IRL with Woody Bendle for #Ideachat last month and again this past weekend) seem as if they happened a year ago.

Why does time fly so much faster in your estimation?

Considering this question, I came up with three possible ideas:

1. Information Overload

There is so much more information that comes at us now, we’re processing what used to be a year’s worth of information in a relatively short time One study from a few years ago said information was coming at us 5 times faster than 20 years before. Right now, with the further proliferation of social media participation, the five times faster figure seems low. Regardless, what used to be a year’s worth of information hits you so much faster - in just a couple of months now. This phenomenon has to be a big factor in disorienting our perception of time passing.

2. Seasonal Marketing Is Out of Whack

To get in front of the message glut and to try and cut through the message clutter, marketers (especially retailers) begin seasonal messaging so much earlier than the calendar suggests. Retailers time shift the entire year. The Christmas retail season goes from July to December 26 (contrast that with a liturgical view of the Christmas season which runs from the evening of December 24 to early January). The Halloween retail season starts in early September and is on closeout before October 31. Back-to-school seems to overlap with “just barely leaving” school. The result is it feels like time is running out and nearly completely disassociated from what the calendar says.

3. The Challenge in Scheduling Meetings

Since in so many organizations there are fewer people to do more work than there used to be, there is a challenge in scheduling meetings and other events. As a result, you wind up scheduling meetings far in advance. On a routine, longer-term project for us, it is common to be scheduling meetings three months in advance. When it comes to a bigger event, the scheduling window is even longer. When you are operating like that, the challenge in scheduling meetings forces you to be thinking many months ahead and acting as if the future is now.

What to do?

If you buy those three reasons for why time seems to fly by so quickly, you can try to manage your information intake as much as you can and do your best to maintain a perspective and a schedule more firmly rooted in the actual calendar than in seasonal marketing messages.

Will this help? What do you think? – Mike Brown


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