30+ ways to make time go faster at work

Published on March 5, 2022 in ,
How to make time go faster at work

Sometimes the workdays in the office can feel stagnant. As if the course of time slows down and the very air around you becomes confining.

You keep looking at the clock, begging for the end of your shift to come sooner. If only there was a way to make time go faster at work on such days. But wait, there actually is!

The best way to make time go faster at work is to stay busy. Find something productive to do, immerse yourself in your work, and do your best to not think about time. This way you will feel like time goes by very quickly.

Here I will introduce you to some actionable strategies that will help you to go through your workday “faster.” Here’s my take on how to make time go by faster while at work!

(Of course, no human has mastery over time (yet) so what we will be looking at is rather ways to make good use of your time at work.)

How to make time at work go faster when you are not working

How to make time at work go faster

We need to acknowledge that sometimes we are not actually doing any work while at work.

As a self-proclaimed “productivity expert” I don’t condone this behavior. But there is only so much a tired or an emotionally burdened mind can do. So go easy on yourself!

Besides, there are plenty of things that you could do to pass the time and still be somewhat productive. Here are my top suggestions for you.

1. Declutter your web browser

As of the writing of this post, my web browser is an absolute mess. It gives me anxiety just thinking about it.

If you have some time to spare, put some order back into your web browser. Create some properly named folders and arrange your links in a way that will help you to be more efficient in your work.

2. Declutter your desktop and file folders

I am guilty of a messy desktop as well. Look, I’ve been kind of busy lately! It’s not my fault.

But if your desktop is also covered in random images and files, it’s best to neatly arrange them in folders. Wouldn't it be great if you could actually see that lovely wallpaper you have on your screen?

3. Declutter and clean your desk

This is something that I am also guilty of not doing as of late. But a messy desk is actually counterproductive. You know what they say, a messy workstation equals a messy mind.

Get rid of the things that you are not actually using and are there for purely decorative reasons. Keep only the useful items and maybe just one sentimental item if you can’t do without it.

And remember to wipe your desk and work monitor frequently as dust can build up quickly!

4. Listen to a podcast

I love listening to podcasts. It's probably my favorite way to multitask. Whenever I am handling mundane tasks at work, there is nothing better than listening to my favorite show.

5. Listen to an audiobook

Have you ever tried audiobooks? I am not ashamed to admit that my "books I have read'' list would be a lot shorter if it wasn't for Audible.

6. Keep a reading list

Reading some useful resources related to your line of work (or not) is another option. 

Personally, I like to keep an emergency reading folder with at least 5 articles that I find curious or useful.

7. Watch some videos

The good old Tube is here to help! It's always a pleasure to see what my favorite content creators have been up to lately.

But there is plenty of educational and professional content available as well. You know, if you're feeling at least a bit like doing something useful.

8. Look for inspiration

Be it professional or personal inspiration, this seems like a good moment to rekindle it.

Think about the people that you admire professionally or culturally. Find out what makes them tick. Find out what their inspirations were.

9. Nurture your creativity

If you are in any creative line of work, why not take some time to further develop your creative mojo?

For example, examine somebody else's work and think about what makes it notable.

10. Sign up for an online course

If you have plenty of time to spare at work, why not sign up for some online course to acquire some new skills?

There is plenty of free know-how content as well, all it takes is a bit of desire to learn.

11. Practice meditation and mindfulness

Of course, you can always retreat to your mind palace. Be it meditation, visualization, or mindfulness, these disciplines offer plenty of avenues that you can explore.

Personally, I am a big believer and practitioner of visualization and strategic thinking related to my work.

12. Make your workdays more enjoyable. Focus on wellness.

It’s simple, if you make your workday more enjoyable, it will be a lot easier to go through it. My personal strategy to achieve this is through wellness and healthy habits.

So here are my top workplace health and wellness tips for you.

  • Practice intermittent fasting until lunchtime.
  • Sip on healthy beverages like tea and coffee.
  • Get up for a brief walk and a stretch every 30 minutes.
  • Write down 3 things you are thankful for in your journal.
  • Talk with your favorite coworkers about anything.
  • Text a dear friend or a family member. Just once.
  • Take a good long look through a window.
  • Have a healthy lunch with your coworkers.
  • Take vitamins and minerals with a cup of cold Rooibos tea.
  • Listen to some nice relaxing music while working.
  • Have a healthy afternoon snack.
  • Anticipate going to the gym right after work.

These are just some of the things I have added to my own toolbox of making work in the office more enjoyable.

Looking at the list like this, it might seem long but it actually fits quite well into my workday. I am able to do most of those things and do my job effectively as well.

Your workday can become a lot more pleasant and chill if you introduce an element of wellness to it. Doing your job while taking good care of yourself is a total win-win in my book.

So take the time to develop your own health and wellness routine and incorporate it into your workdays. It will make them a lot more enjoyable and time will go by faster.

Make time pass faster at work by not obsessing about time

How to make time pass faster at work

An excessive focus on time is not going to make the clock tick faster. In fact, it will have the opposite effect and your workday will become even harder to get through.

Do your best to keep your mind occupied but also break away from your time-checking habits. Here are some useful tips.

1. Flip your phone

If you keep your phone on your desk, just turn it around, display side down. The odd position will remind you not to check the time whenever you glance at it.

2. Remove your wristwatch

If you wear one, take it off and put it away. The physical distancing from the watch will eliminate the compulsion to check the time.

3. Hide the clock on your screen with a small sticky note

Another major source of constant time checking comes from the very desktop of the screen you are working on. Simply hide that small corner of agony. I like to use a sticky note, it serves as a reminder to not obsess about time.

4. Remove the clock from the wall

If you suffer from excessive time-checking, the worst possible thing to have is a clock on the wall. If it is within your power, then remove it as soon as possible. If not, speak to your office manager about it.

Note: Maybe you need a vacation? Excessive time-checking at work could be a sign of occupational burnout. Do you feel chronically tired and down? Does thinking about work make you feel sick? Consider taking a week or two off work to recharge your batteries.

How to make time go by faster at work by staying busy

How to make time go by faster at work

A busy workday usually goes by very quickly. If you are able to get some work done, the hours will pass without you even noticing. Here are some tips on how to achieve that.

1. Focus on your work

The 10-minute rule can help you here. Tell yourself that you will focus on your work for 10 minutes. By the time the 10 minutes pass you will be so immersed in your work that you won't notice how the time went by.

This way you will keep your mind occupied and you will be actually doing your job so you won’t have to think about the passage of time.

2. Tackle some pending tasks

Surely there are some tasks that have been waiting around for somebody to tackle them. This can be the day you tackle them for everyone.

This can be a good opportunity to clear some tasks that have been waiting for a while. This way you won't have to deal with them later on when you might be busier than usual.

Pending tasks that pile up can be a major source of stress and frustration in the future. And this kind of brings me to my next point.

3. Plan your future tasks and projects

You can use this opportunity to plan your work ahead. Planning tasks and projects is essential for long-term productivity.

This way you will always know what comes next. It is also a great way to stay on top of things, making sure that the work gets done at an appropriate pace.

4. Keep a comprehensive to-do list

The best way to plan your work is to keep a well-structured to-do list. This way you always have a pool of tasks that are waiting for you.

You can structure the list according to the nature of the tasks, their priority, and their difficulty.

This is yet another method to stay busy and productive but it works very well.

5. Ask a coworker if they need help with something

Killing time with more work is just very effective. You can be a good coworker by helping one of your colleagues with some of their tasks and duties.

This is a great way to keep the team productivity high and build a better connection with the people you work with.

They will be thankful and appreciative of the help. It's a wonderful way to keep morale high in the office.

6. Ask a coworker to teach you something new

Maybe there is something related to your work that you don’t know to do quite right yet. Perhaps you can ask one of your colleagues for additional training and support?

7. Ask your boss to give you a task

Isn't it every boss's dream to have one of their workers tell them that they are done with all of their duties so they need some more tasks to handle?

This can be a chance for you to score some extra points with your boss. Being highly productive at work and achieving good results is one of the best ways to get a raise or be promoted.

8. Sharpen the axe (do some research)

Sometimes I like to research statistics and scientific studies that are somehow related to my work. This way I can apply new principles and ideas to my work in order to achieve better results.

9. Gather your coworkers for a brainstorming session

Whenever the workday feels kind of boring, I like to gather my team and talk.

I find that brainstorming sessions where all sorts of crazy ideas are thrown around are amazing and they can recharge everyone at the office with energy and enthusiasm about work.

And not just that but also amazing ideas are generated like this. Even if just one of those ideas is workable, it is still worth it.

10. Prepare an internal training

Is there something that you would like to teach your coworkers? You can prepare a simple presentation with the key points and schedule a 30-minute meeting to tell your team all about your awesome ideas.

Make the workday go by faster with good time management

How to make the workday go by faster

Time management is basically the ability to structure your workdays in the most optimal way in order to be as productive as possible.

Applying time management to your workdays will allow you to go through them faster because you will always know what comes next or what tasks need to be handled.

Again, the focus is on productivity but this time you are introducing another layer of structure and control over what you do and when you do it.

1. Evaluate how you spend your time at work

In order to properly manage your time at work, you need to understand how you spend it. So start tracking your time!

Use a spreadsheet to write down what tasks you handle during a typical workday, exactly when you handle them, and how much time they take you.

It would be helpful if you also write down how you feel during the different phases of your workday.

Do this for a week or two until a clear pattern emerges and you have a good understanding of how you speed your time at work.

2. Plan your week ahead

During the weekend, take a look at the work-time tracking table. Consider what can be done differently. For example, can you match the periods when you have a lot of energy to work with your most important duties?

By planning your entire workweek, you minimize a lot of friction and time waste.

3. Break your workday into time blocks

Don’t think of your workday as an 8-hour shift with a lunch break in the middle. Instead, break it down into smaller time periods that have a specific focus.

For example, I like to break down my workdays into 2 major time blocks. I usually dedicate the first 4 hours of my workday to “deep work.” During this period, I focus on the most important tasks that I must do for the day. I avoid communication and distractions as best I can. Laser focus!

The second time block of my workday is when all the work-related communication and project planning takes place. During this period, I am more prone to check my email, project management system, and instant messaging apps.

All sorts of distractions can come my way but this doesn’t stress me out because I know that I have already handled a lot of work during my first major time block.

You can take this principle and apply it to your workday. Adjust it according to the nature of your work. You can have 2, 3, 4, or even more time blocks depending on exactly what kind of work you do

4. Find out when you are most productive

It’s very important to understand exactly when and under what conditions you are capable of doing your best work.

Being productive is the result of having energy and being able to concentrate. Make sure to reserve this time block for your “deep work” to ensure your long-term productivity and professional success.

Why do you want to make time go faster at work? Be honest.

I hate my job

It is time to address the elephant in the room.

Do you hate your job?

If you are constantly checking the time while at work because working this job is pure agony for you, then no amount of productivity, time management, and workplace wellness tips is going to make your situation any more bearable.

You are unhappy where you are.

You are not fulfilled by what you are doing.

If that is indeed the case, I sincerely hope that you will find your way, my friend.

In the meantime, consider the tips we have listed here. I personally practice all of them and I owe my sanity to them. They can help you cope until you find something more meaningful to do.

Key takeaways

  • The best way to make time go faster at work is by staying busy.
  • If possible, simply focus on your duties and don’t think about anything else.
  • Don’t be tempted to look at the clock, an excessive focus on time is counterproductive.
  • If you are unable to focus and do your job, there are plenty of things that you can do to still be productive.
  • Take good care of yourself while at work. Adopt some workplace health and wellness habits to practice.
  • Boredom at work is another culprit that seems to slow down time. Do your best to make your work more exciting.
  • According to research, looking at a clock does funny things to our perception of time. You literally fall into the illusion of time slowing down. So do your best to avoid looking at the clock while at work. It will only exacerbate your quiet suffering.
Written by:
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Alex Alexiev
co-founder / office worker
Alex has been an office worker for more than 10 years. He is dedicated to helping other office workers to achieve the perfect life-work balance through well-being, effective communication, and building productive habits.

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