What makes time go by

Sense of timeroutine leaves time seemingly more quickly pass away

Sometimes time is racing, sometimes it hardly seems to pass. The psychologist Marc Wittmann researches our perception of time. He says: the more we experience, the slower time goes by for us.

A minute has 60 seconds, an hour has 60 minutes. But sometimes it seems to us that these facts are being overridden. During the corona pandemic, for example, time seems to be running differently for many: faster for some, slower for others - at least according to the result of a British study that examined the time perception of around 600 people in Great Britain during the lockdown in April 2020.

"In retrospect, our sense of time disappears."
Marc Wittmann is a time psychologist

Why is that? Marc Wittmann is a time psychologist, time researcher and author of numerous books on the subject. He explains: When all the days suddenly turn out to be similar, become a kind of uniform muddle and no longer differ properly, then, in retrospect, it seems to us that time has "passed relatively faster". These effects are independent of age or gender, says the time psychologist.

"If we are distracted by the time because we are doing something exciting, then we do not pay attention to the time, and time goes by much faster."
Marc Wittmann is a time psychologist

And he describes a situation that we all know well: If we have to wait, if we have to do something that we don't like and are counting the minutes inside, then time goes by very slowly for us at this moment. Marc Wittmann calls it "the typical waiting time situation". If, on the other hand, we are busy with a great thing and don't pay attention to the time, it flies by - at least that's what we mean.

"The content of memories is what subjectively extends our duration."
Marc Wittmann is a time psychologist

The fact that some think that time passes faster in old age is not due to age itself, but rather to the circumstances in which one finds oneself, says the time psychologist. It is due to the "increasing routine that we develop in the course of our lives".

"Christmas again!"

Everything is new in childhood and youth, he explains, we experience many things for the first time and have to deal with them. So much remains in the memory that "stretches" time. Later, as we get older, we stay in the same place, experience fewer new things, may also be less emotional, have a job, a family and are stuck in routines. So it come that some think. "Oops, it's Christmas again!" Another year has passed.