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6 Things to Let Go of to Slow Down Time

6 Things to Let Go of to Slow Down Time

Today, I’m excited to share a guest post from Julia Ubbenga of Rich in What Matters, talking about 6 things she let go of to slow down time.

I feel like most of us can relate to the feeling that time is moving too quickly. That days, weeks and months are passing by in what feels like the blink of an eye.

Julia is sharing 6 things she has let go of that have helped her slow down and live more intentionally. I found the post very inspiring and hope you enjoy it too!


6 Things to Let Go of to Slow Down Time

The concept of time, for me, has often felt enigmatic.

Regardless of its puzzling properties, around this time of year, every year, I attempt to solve it. I’ll be 39 tomorrow—the passing of another year triggers my annual, time-themed reflecting.

This year, my insights regarding time have felt novel. Which makes me think, as I’m closing out my 30s, maybe I’m getting closer to understanding it.

Or maybe I’m simply opening my eyes to see what’s consuming it. 

As philosopher Machiavelli said, “The more sand that has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it.” I’m grateful my focus is improving.

In my 20s and early 30s, time moved at a hyper pace. “Time flies.” “Where does the time go?” “Time is a thief.” Every adage about time’s fleeting properties described my life. I was an untouchable blur. Life was consumed by doing, planning, more doing, and then wondering what was next instead of observing and experiencing what was in front of me. 

When I would come up to breathe, pausing for a moment to surface above the rapid current of my life, I couldn’t wrap my mind around how another week had passed, another month had flown by, another year had escaped me.

Time moves as fast as you let it. And, by succumbing to society-promoted hyper living, I was letting it run on warp speed. 

To live intentionally, I had to slow down and let go.

Decelerating the speed of your life has a slowing effect on time. But to optimize the deceleration, you also have to let go. 

Here are 6 things to let go of to slow down time:

1. Distraction 

I recently read that humans now have a shorter attention span than goldfish. That’s right, goldfish. According to a Microsoft study, these scaly, orange creatures have an attention span of nine seconds, while humans usually lose focus after eight. 

Microsoft found that since the year 2000 (or about when the mobile revolution began) our average attention span dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds. 

We’re now officially losing to goldfish. And, given that we touch our phones an average of 2,617 times a day, it’s not all that surprising. When our focus is out ping-ponging between text messages and app notifications, we’re not fully taking in the present moment. 

Slow down time by focusing on the now. Use your senses: go barefoot and linger in the feeling of grass on your soles, describe your surroundings vividly in your mind, breathe in deeply and scrutinize the scent. 

By placing the weight of your attention on the present moment, you absorb it, and it feels full, not fleeting. 

2. Unneeded consumerism 

Consumerism is appropriately named. When our minds are set on acquiring more, seeking a dopamine hit from our next purchase, then behaviors like constantly scrolling for sales and frequenting stores become allconsuming.

As we consume more stuff, shopping for items, caring for them, storing them, and possibly returning them steals our time and attention

While we all need basic things, bigger and upgraded possessions don’t permanently pacify our lack. If they did, we wouldn’t be going back for more. And, when we get caught up in this consumerism cycle, our attention is hijacked by shiny items and time flies. 

Slow down time by changing your language. Instead of saying you “need” something, say that you “want” it. When you allow yourself to identify your desired purchase as a “want,” you give yourself space to realize you don’t really “need” it. 

Less time spent chasing “needs” also means more time spent fully engaged in your life, which slows time.

3. Expectations 

Holding solid expectations for how life should unfold can keep you from seeing what’s actually happening. When you’re stuck processing how things should have happened, you miss the beauty in what did. Living internally distracted also makes time pass more quickly. 

Journeying through life with fewer expectations means increased acceptance to whatever comes your way, leading to more present, authentic encounters. This doesn’t bolster indolence—you still invest in your activities, you simply have little invested in the outcome. When you’re not waiting for experiences to conform to your expectations, you’re free to experience what writer Robert Grudin calls “the sudden beauty of seeing.”

Slow down time by designating blocks of time where you practice dropping your expectations. Become the observer, ready to see whatever life brings your way. 

Letting go of expectations means a deeper, more authentic experience of life, which slows time.

4. Busyness 

Busyness is often linked to productivity, which merits accolades in our culture. But when we’re constantly in “doing” mode, we miss the beauty of the moment, barreling through life with a “what’s next?” mindset. We need rest and downtime to reflect, recharge, and fully experience life.

Slow down time by setting an alarm on your phone for intentional pauses. For me, 10 am, noon, 3 pm and right before dinner work well. During these times, take 5-10 minutes to: practice deep breathing, write down three things you’re grateful for, take a power nap, walk in the sunshine, sip tea or whatever drink you love, read a few pages of a good book, pray, mindfully observe your surroundings, put your hand on your heart and listen, or use a grounding essential oil. 

These pauses change the pace of your day, shifting your mindset back into “being” mode, which is also the mode where time moves the slowest.

5. Monotony

Studies show that repetitive stimuli make time seem to pass faster, while novel stimuli make time seem to move slower. Doing and seeing the same things over and over again shortens our internal sense of time; seeking new experiences expands it. This is one of the reasons time moves slower during childhood—life is abounding with novelty and wonder.

Slow down time by intentionally breaking your routine every day. This could be as small as reading a different book to your children or as large as traveling out of the country. Writer Adam Scott said, “Each day you have the option for adventure or routine comfort, and if you want an adventurous life, you have to choose it.

When you weave novelty into your life and immerse yourself in the unfamiliar, time moves more slowly.

6. Worry

Worry is another internal distraction that transports our mind from the present moment. A 2019 study showed that we spend an average of 26% of our thinking time each day worrying. And that 91% of the time what we worry about doesn’t happen. Worry is counterproductive and causes us to miss out on our lives. Time becomes a blur for minds set on worry mode.

Slow down time by grounding yourself in the present moment with this breathing exercise: breathe in for 4 seconds, hold, breathe out for 8 seconds. Repeat for two minutes.

Then ask yourself this one question: What if it all works out? Repeat this question every time the worry returns. Challenge the ruminations. Flip the script. 

By questioning your worry, you let go of un-serving, time-sucking thought patterns and open your mind back to the present moment.

Author Leo Babauta said, “If the days and weeks pass by in a blur, let us slow down time with more luxurious attention on this moment.”

To slow down time, to linger in the moment, takes letting go. If letting go of one of the things above resonated with you, then I encourage you to practice releasing it.

We get to choose how fast our days and weeks pass. And often, a simple shift of attention will decelerate time’s pace. Let’s let go, let’s put the weight of our attention in the now, and let’s enter more fully into our one, beautiful life.


Julia Ubbenga is a freelance journalist whose teachings on minimalism, simplicity, and intentional living have reached thousands of people worldwide through her blog. Julia also practices what she preaches in her Kansas City home with her husband, two extremely lively young daughters, two-year-old son, and baby girl. You can also find her on Instagram and now also on Facebook.

6 Things to Let Go of to Slow Down Time

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Jessalynn Jones

Sunday 7th of July 2024

Great post! I love all these tips. I have found that something “novel” I can add to each day is a creative project. Also, meeting new people, talking to them and helping them seems to expand time.

Simple Lionheart Life

Monday 8th of July 2024

Thanks Jessalynn! I love your suggestions too! Thanks for reading :)

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