One of the biggest reasons so many women report being unhappy or stressed at work: "We feel like we have too much to do and too little time," says Melanie Rudd, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing at the University of Houston C.T. Bauer College of Business. No expert in the world can add more minutes to your day, but, counters Rudd, "there are some small things you can do that will make you feel like you have more hours." Try these four tricks, no time machine necessary:
Decorate your office with inspiring stuff. You know when you get all amazed by things like the Grand Canyon? "That sense of wonder makes time seem to move a bit more slowly," Rudd says. In one of her experiments, people were asked to rank whether their time was plentiful; those who looked at awe-inspiring images (of waterfalls or astronauts in space, for example) scored 39 percent higher than people who simply looked at happy pictures—say, those of people smiling in a parade. So alongside your desk pics of family and friends, have something of the National Geographic variety.
Rocked the project? Celebrate! "Something we don't do well is savor things, whether it's a great moment or even a piece of chocolate," Rudd says. "That means we miss out on opportunities to be present and enjoy life—both of which work to expand our sense of time." If you've just wrapped up a challenging task or project, spend a few minutes appreciating the accomplishment before returning to your to-do list. The day, research shows, will feel longer.
Breathe. In another study, Rudd found that women who took deep belly breaths for about five minutes felt 21 percentless time-crunched than those who breathed at a normal pace.
Think of your time in chunks. It may sound counterintuitive, but switching back and forth quickly between tasks—a.k.a. multitasking—actually makes us feel as if we have less time, Rudd says: "One of the best things we can do to feel like we have more time is to stay in the moment." Set a 30-minute timer and bang out that report until the bell dings. Then, give yourself two minutes of Twitter or half an hour to grab coffee with a colleague. Repeat. If you must check in with the office after working hours, reserve 20 minutes after dinner to get it done. Then, unplug. You just made your 24-hour day feel like 25!