Do you think January is the longest month and feels like it has been at least 8 weeks long? Or do you think it has gone really quickly and you’re surprised that February is about to start?
My thoughts are muddled because it feels really long since Christmas and I feel ready for break. However, I haven’t started creating plans for 2021 so find it hard to believe the first month is over.
Perception of time
Being realistic, no one thinks January is different in the length to many other months in the year. So why does January feel different. Why do we experience time differently?
January has 31 days, the same number as December, the preceding month. And they are both similar months with short, dark and cold days. So why do we perceive them differently. My thoughts are:
- in December there tends to be lights and decorations which provide novelty and variety; these are taken down in January
- in December we make lots of plans to meet friends and family, possibly more than any other month
- as we plan for Christmas or other festivals we’re often thinking about other people as buy gifts and write cards
- December tends to have its own unique traditions, such as watching Christmas films, making mulled wine and music
- People tend to have more days away from the office in December due to public holidays
- People have an expectation things will dramatically change after midnight on 31st December
So my theory is January feels long because it is in contrast to the packed month of December. A month when we have lots of look forward to and more time to enjoy ourselves. January doesn’t have its own shared festivities and may start with a negative connotations if people have set big new year resolutions or signed up to challenges, leading to a depressing month.
And this could explain why I haven’t done my planning yet. Due to the monotony of January (especially this year as we’re currently in another lockdown in England) perhaps my time perception has been off and I haven’t “noticed” the days passing.
How to shorten January
So if January is the longest month due to boredom, in comparison to December, it should be fairly easy to fix, right? We just need to make January more fun. And ideally in a way that connects us with other people, so we can share our fun and enjoy hearing about other people’s.
Instead of Dry January or Veganuary how about helping someone each day or focusing on a hobby? Or how about planning activities to look forward to such as a holiday or a party when you can get together with friends (in non Covid times obviously). In January last year I was looking forward to going on my first ski holiday with friends, which gave us lots to chat about as they helped me know what to pack.
What would you like to do in future years to make January more fun and therefore feel shorter? What do you think would spread to other people and encourage them to feel happier?
With regard to my planning, I know part of this is down to my resistance to set new year resolutions, so I didn’t work on them at the end of last year. Although another part is I wasn’t in the best mood in December and I would have found it difficult to create the mental time needed to think about planning.
Maybe this is the year I’ll do Groundhog Day resolutions and set them on 2nd of February and review them on 3rd March, 4th April etc. Or perhaps I’ll create plans when I feel up to it, as I don’t feel like pushing myself too hard this year.
How have you found January long or short this year? Is this different to previous years?