Time Perception As A Mental Construct


About a week ago I was talking with my friend Brittany. She was telling me how living in Asheville, NC feels much slower than in Minneapolis yet how she really appreciates the slow-pace of said city. We went on to talk about my experience with time as well being that I moved to Texas from Mexico City and how to me, it felt like time lasted twice as long here… then, when I moved to the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina for a couple of years, I thought I was eternal!

After we moved back to Texas, and I was so grateful for that, I realized how the perception of time was very much a mental construct and I started using my time more intentionally. I guess having a very strong entrepreneurial father that taught my right-brain self the importance of respecting people’s time helped me cultivate a productive mentality.

Going back to the conversation with my friend Brittany, after I explained all of this to her, she mentioned in surprise: “That’s how you get so much done! You move a million miles an hour!” And I think she’s right. Balancing my 8-5 job, writing for a financial newsletter, being an active member of the Libertarian Party Executive Committee, having two YouTube channels, two Facebook pages with tens of thousands of likes, an active social life, and of course my two lovely kids and wife might seem overwhelming to a lot of people… all of this within a 24-hour day.

A lot of people usually complain about not having enough time but in reality we all have as much time as Elon Musk, Tim Cook, Peter Thiel, and all of those high-performing guys. The issue, in my perspective, is how we make use of that time.

The real secret for me has been the realization that there is no such thing as “free time.”

That all the time we have can be either invested or wasted … mind you, time that we enjoy wasting is not wasted time at all. But with that said, that time will not come back so it is really difficult [read: “impossible”] for me to just want to sit down and watch telly when I could be creating value for myself and society in general.

Also, for those of us that work well with incentives, try this: apply a dollar value to every hour of your life depending on what you normally get for your work. How much money are you losing? How much value are you throwing away? Suddenly, our perception on “spare time” tends to dissipate like that venti pike at 7:30am.

Time perception has become extremely interesting to me. I have been noticing more intentionally how people treat the scarcest resource there is (time) and how that, in turn, affects their outcomes (me included, of course). I have been seeing a lot of people looking for ways to help them track time and keep them in check with all the duties, responsibilities and commitments. There are literally hundreds of Apps for this and after doing some research I really have not been very impressed, and that sort of hurts me to acknowledge as a tech snob … but ultimately nothing beats pen and paper. After doing some research, I found out that people like Richard Branson, Howard Schultz, Jack Dorsey, etc., still use that simple technology to keep them going from task to task. Yes, as hard as that is to believe, all these star entrepreneurs still stick to pen and paper to make lists and keep their to-do lists.


The real issue, to me, is then learning to prioritize the urgent from the important, and one of the pieces of advice I have seen over and over on the internet and other time-management books is to tackle the most difficult task first, and then the day seems to roll a lot easier. I have also seen people talk about the 2-minute tasks, where the authors explain that if a task takes two minutes or less you should not postpone it because it is very likely that you will end up not doing it … like me right now with my internet bill. Just because it’s easy, a lot of times we send it to the back burner and we end up paying late fees and two months at the sametime. Ouch!

The most important thing I found was that all of this time perception business is quite subjective and we all need to find what works best for us… One suggestion would be basing this on our thinking preferences as we learned with the HBDI® profile.

A final thought: this does not have to be a grueling process but it will take a few tries to see what works for you. Find some apps that will help you remember things like SIRI on your iPhone or Google. Keep pen and paper handy and please let us know what works for you. I am perpetually curious about how things work for different people and I’d like to hear about your success stories. Even your not very successful ones if they are funny ;).




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Luis Fernando Mises is a Consultant that teaches Leadership all over the United States, a Yoga instructor, a Meditation teacher, a student of Austrian Economics, a Statesman with the Libertarian Party, a Curandero, an Entrepreneur, and a Family man. He realized his personal mission was to empower others and to be present; and this realization propelled him to create Emancipated Human as a way to bring stories that would help people see the nature of the police state we currently live in, ideas to hack the world, interviews with people that have practical examples, and inspiration to live a freer life.