The Acceleration of Time & The Power of Slowing Down
Do you feel like the days are getting quicker and quicker, and you are getting less done because life feels like it’s moving too fast? It’s because the world really is speeding up. On June 29, 2022, scientists measured the shortest day since records began in the 1960s. Earth shaved 1.59 milliseconds off its usual time and did it again on July 26. We’re going to delve into Earth’s acceleration, and how in combination with technological advances and the pace of modern life, it creates a palpable sensation of an increasingly faster world.
The World is (literally) Speeding Up
Science tells us that the Earth’s rotation is not constant as it has minute fluctuations over time. Scientific studies reveal that our planet is gradually speeding up, even if only in imperceptible amounts. The primary driver of this acceleration is believed to be the redistribution of mass due to climate change. As ice caps melt, water redistributes itself across different regions, which is altering Earth's inertia. This change leads to a faster rotation of the planet even if it's ever so slight.
As the increasing speed is so imperceptible, the effects on our life aren’t immediately noticeable. Humans are inherently wired to observe the world in relation to their environment, and the rotation of the Earth serves as a fundamental reference point. So, an accelerated Earth imparts a subtle but noticeable change in our experience of time. Days may seem to pass more quickly, deadlines approach sooner, and a sense of urgency pervades our daily activities.
The impact of this altered perception of time becomes more noticeable when coupled with the rapid advancements in technology. Technological advancements have revolutionised the way we communicate, work, and navigate the world, adding yet another layer to the perceived acceleration of life. The instant connectivity provided by the internet, social media, and real-time messaging services compress distances and time zones, ensuring that we are always reachable and expected to respond immediately. This constant connectivity only works to enhance this crazy fast pace we are feeling in every area of our lives.
In the digital age, we find ourselves immersed in an unprecedented abundance of information. With a few taps on our phones, we can unlock a sea of knowledge and access data from across the globe. This easy access to information has many benefits, helping us to learn, discover, and connect in new ways. However, it also presents challenges that shape our perception of time and contributes to the sense of a world that’s speeding up. The sheer volume of information available at our fingertips is overwhelming. We are constantly bombarded with news updates, social media feeds, emails, notifications, and an endless stream of content. There is a demand to process and consume this information quickly. As a result, our attention spans have shortened, and our capacity for deep, focused engagement has diminished.
We find ourselves in a perpetual state of distraction, constantly seeking the next piece of content, the next headline, and the next viral trend. The rapid pace at which we skim through information intensifies the feeling that time is slipping away, fuelling the perception of an ever-increasing speed in our lives. Information overload also affects our ability to reflect, process, and synthesize knowledge. In the past, acquiring information required effort, such as reading books, conducting research, or engaging in in-depth conversations. These activities allowed for contemplation, critical thinking, and the integration of new ideas.
However, in the age of information overload, the speed at which we consume information often takes precedence over deep comprehension. We skim through articles, scroll through headlines, and jump from one piece of content to another, rarely allowing ourselves the luxury of intellectual digestion. This shallow processing of information only increases the feeling of time racing by, leaving us with a nagging sensation that we are forever chasing after knowledge without truly processing it.
The Power of Slowing Down
As I’ve spoken about previously, there is an increasing need for speed in the business world, to keep up with technological advancements and our fast-paced society. However, alongside the need for speed, there is a growing need for embracing the power of slowing down. The importance of “slow” lies in its ability to counterbalance the rapid pace of the world, fostering well-being, creativity, and deeper connections with ourselves and others.
One of the key professional benefits of slowing down is enhanced productivity. While it may seem counterintuitive, taking deliberate pauses and allowing yourself to slow down can actually result in improved performance. By intentionally creating slow moments, professionals can recharge their mental and physical energy, enabling them to approach tasks with more focus and clarity. This deliberate slowing down allows for strategic thinking, and better decision-making, and ultimately leads to increased productivity and better outcomes.
Slowing down also prevents burnout. The relentless pursuit of success and the constant pressure to meet demanding deadlines can take a toll on your mental and physical health. By incorporating slow practices into your professional life, such as mindful breaks and setting boundaries, we can relieve stress, maintain a healthy work-life balance, and sustain long-term career satisfaction. Slowing down allows us to prioritise self-care, recharge our energy, and cultivate resilience, which ultimately contributes to success and fulfilment.
The Need for Speed: Fast & Slow
Between the world literally speeding up, information overload, and technological advancements, it can feel like life is moving at an overwhelming pace. Amidst this accelerated reality, it is crucial to embrace the power of slowing down. Let's be real, we all struggle to do it. When we're laying on the couch ‘relaxing' we're often still doing something work-related or taking in more information than our weary brains can handle. Deliberate pauses and intentional slow moments not only enhance productivity but also foster well-being and prevent burnout. In a world that is speeding up, it’s important to choose to slow down as well.
Dazed Digital. (2022). Earth has started spinning faster – what does it all mean? Dazed Digital. https://www.dazeddigital.com/life-culture/article/56730/1/earth-is-spinning-faster-what-does-it-all-mean-space-drop-second