Internal time perception (aging)

By | 2011-11-16

It is a well known fact that as you grow older time seems to pass by more quickly. You may have memories from when you were younger and days seemed very long and holidays seemed to last forever. As you grow older time fly by and you barely have time to get home from work and make food before bedtime and back to work.

Lesser known is it that this phenomenon has been studied and that this is not just something you imagine. It is a fact for all people. And the rate at witch your internal sense of time is changing is following a logarithmic scale.

So I plotted the numbers in an Excel pivot table to get a graph everyone can read. Looking at it we see some interesting facts.

Time perception

Some fun facts

  • A 10 year old kid perceives a day as twice as long as a 40 year old.
  • The rate at witch you “loose time” decreases as you get older. This means that time when you are young is much more valuable.
    That might be something to think of when you plan to “relax later in life”.
  • By percentage relative to your internal clock, this is the distribution of your life if we assume you will live until you are 80 years old:
    • Age 1: 10% of perceived life done.
    • Age 4: 20% of perceived life done.
    • Age 8: 30% of perceived life done.
    • Age 13: 40% of perceived life done.
    • Age 20: 50% of perceived life done.
    • Age 28: 60% of perceived life done.
    • Age 40: 70% of perceived life done.
    • Age 52: 80% of perceived life done.
    • Age 64: 90% of perceived life done.
    • Age 80: Death.

I thought knowing these numbers could put it into perspective and possibly make better use of the time we have. Any break from standard procedure like for instance a holiday would change the rate of perception, so going to do something you have never done and exposing yourself for a lot of new impressions will actually make the holiday seem longer. (For you, not your children if they are young enough.)

2 thoughts on “Internal time perception (aging)

  1. OB

    my website has a calculator that does almost the exact same calculation! , this concept is pretty fascinating , let me know if there’s an algorithm i could add to my website to improve the calculation in any way :)


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