How to Build a Healthy Relationship to Time & Avoid the “Quick-Fix” Trap

In this podcast (episode #452) and blog, I talk about a great way to improve your wellbeing and resilience: the time mindset!

First, it is important to understand what a mindset is. It is how we view the world—it generates our perspective, which shapes the way we interact with our environment – that is, the choices we make as we respond to what happens to us, and as we choose what to think, say and do. 

Why are mindsets so important? Mindsets direct our perceptions and subsequent actions. When we understand HOW our mind works and how mindsets are formed, we can direct where we want our mind to go and what structures we want it to build in our brain. Ultimately, we can choose how we want our life to look. Mindsets teach us how to shape our life stories.   

The time mindset is about harnessing the power of our thoughts to think deeply, learn powerfully, and deal with the fast-paced, digital, instant age we live in to lead lives filled with meaning. It is all about changing how you think, feel and choose around the concept of time, that is changing your relationship with time!

The time mindset means acknowledging that:

  • Nothing worthwhile happens in an instant.
  • We can turn our dreams into realities, but we first have to realize it takes longer than the average one-second life span of a twitter post or 60-second life span of a TikTok video to make a change.
  • There is not a pill or quick fix for every ill.

The technological age we live in and the neuro-reductionistic approach to mental health have brought with them the desire to see things, including change, healing and success, as instantaneous. But this is not the way reality works. Trying to make things happen fast and then giving up when they do not happen at the speed you have become accustomed to is unhealthy. It can cause you anguish and put your mind and brain into toxic stress, keeping you stuck in a negative cycle.

Just like when you train your body to run a marathon or master a new exercise in the gym, your mind-brain connection needs time to develop and grow the new electromagnetic and protein networks that lead to true and lasting healing and change. This is where mind management comes in: it is like cardio for the brain!

Research shows that when we consciously think about time, we are more inclined to plan things that make us happier, like prioritizing our social connections. On the other hand, when we plan things around something like money, we tend to spend more time working and less time fulfilled. But when we put ourselves into a state of mind where we are thinking about time, our behavior changes as well. In fact, researcher and UCLA professor Cassie Holmes found that when we make a habit of thinking about time, we engage more with others and form deeper life connections versus when we just think about things like making more money.

However, when it comes to time, we need to find a balance. Research shows if we have too little time or too much time on our hands, we feel unproductive, and this can affect our sense of purpose and our mental health. So, it is not the extremes that count, but finding a balance that works for us and gives us a sense of peace and happiness amid the ups and downs of life.

It is important to understand that when the busyness of life is unmanaged, we become too distracted and oblivious to the beautiful and simple things around us that bring us peace and joy. This is why focusing on using mind management to make the time mindset a part of our lives is so necessary—it does wonders for our mental health! Deliberate, intentional thinking about time will help us use what time we do have in ways that are more aligned with our values, which will make us happier and improve our wellbeing

One great way to practice using a time mindset in your life is by using the Neurocycle mind management method, which I discuss in detail in my latest book Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess and my app Neurocycle. The Neurocycle is a way to harness your thinking power that I have developed and researched over the past three decades. It has 5 steps:

  1. Gather awareness of how you feel mentally and physically when you think about time. For example, you could ask yourself something like “Have I been sabotaging myself by fearing what other people will think of me as I go through the time-consuming process of healing and change?
  2. Reflect on how you feel. Why do you think you feel this way? What is the where, what, when, and how behind your thoughts and feelings?
  3. Write down your reflections to help organize your thinking.
  4. Recheck: think about what your thoughts and feelings are trying to tell you. What are they signaling to in your life? Look for clues in your writing, then start to reconceptualize the way you are thinking. What can you do to change this?
  5. Do your active reach. This is a thought or action you need to practice daily to help you reconceptualize what you thought about in the previous step. For example, you could remind yourself every day (throughout the day) that true healing doesn’t follow a cookie cutter time approach, and that everyone’s timeline will look different. Or you could tell yourself daily, I am going to consciously and deliberately try to not get distracted and multitask but engage in the moment,” then practice doing this as you spend time with those you love or doing something you love.

Here are some additional questions you can ask yourself as you practice changing the way you think about time: 

  1. Do you find yourself saying “that was such a waste of time!” and falling into a pattern of regret? When? What? Where? How? What can you do to change this?
  2. Do you find yourself being controlled by time? Remember, you can choose to not let time control you. Learn as much as possible (we all have deadlines!) to flow with the natural sequence of time when you are completing a task. Again, ask yourself When? What? Where? How? What can you do to change this?
  3. If things take longer than planned, don’t panic. If you panic, you may end up undoing what you have just done. If you have experienced this, think about how you reacted. When? What? Where? How? What can you do to change this?
  4. Focus on the fact that it takes a minimum of 63 days to build a lasting habit in the mind and brain. Are you expecting change in your life to happen more quickly? When? What? Where? How? What can you do to change this?

For more on the time mindset, listen to my podcast (episode #452). If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!)  

You can now also join me on Patreon for exclusive, ad-free content! Sign up for a membership level that suits you, and receive access to ad-free exclusive bonus podcasts!     

My latest ad-free podcasts on Patreon include:  

Podcast 451: Debunking the Myth of the Perfect Parent 

Podcast 450: How to Use the Neurocycle to Deal With Regret 

Podcast 449: Addressing Adolescent ADD & ADHD with Child Psychiatrist Dr. Sami Timimi: Part 2 

This podcast is sponsored by: 

BiOptimizer’s Magnesium Breakthrough. After the end of year work obligations and holiday family fun, it’s easy to start the new year stressed, worn out, and lacking motivation. If you’re feeling like you need “a holiday from the holidays”, I have the perfect solution: start taking Magnesium Breakthrough every night before you go to bed. Why? Because stress depletes your magnesium levels, and magnesium is critical for getting deep and restorative sleep. Magnesium Breakthrough is the only organic full-spectrum magnesium supplement that includes 7 unique forms of magnesium all in each pill. And, when you get all 7 critical forms of magnesium, that’s when the “magic happens”: pretty much every function in your body gets upgraded, from your sleep to your brain, from stress, to pain, and inflammation! For an exclusive offer for my listeners go to In addition to the 10% discount you get by using promo code drleaf10, you will unlock a special gift with purchase - for a limited time only.  

Podcast Highlights

3:08 Why mindsets are so important

3:25 How to deal with the fast-paced age we live in 

4:26 Why we need to change the way we think about time 

9:00, 15:20 It takes time to change! 

10:10 What the research tells us about time 

16:31, 19:58 How to change your relationship to time using mind management

This podcast and blog are for educational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional.

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