“Don’t watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going.” ~Sam Leveson
Today’s blog continues with last week’s theme of time—only this time, I have a confession to make…I’m a habitual clock watcher. I’m the one sneaking a peak at my watch during a conversation, glancing furtively at the wall clock during a meeting, or pretending to do the “socially-acceptable” text check during dinner, when I’m actually checking to see how late it is.
We have a clock in literally every room of the house—some rooms have more than one. If I wake up during the night, the first thing I do? Roll over and check the clock to see how many more hours of precious sleep I have left. During a hard workout, I’ll watch the clock to see how much longer I have to endure. If we’re watching television in the evening, I periodically turn around to see how much time before I need to get ready for bed.
Checking the time doesn’t necessarily mean I’m bored or want to move on. (Okay, if I’m sitting in a meeting, that may be exactly what it means.) But if I’m having a great time, I’m probably thinking about how soon whatever it is I’m enjoying will be over. Or I might be feeling guilty about something else that is going undone. If I’m doing something difficult, I’m likely wondering how long I can continue or if I’ve done it long enough to call it good. There could be a variety of reasons I’m watching the time—or there could be no good reason at all. It’s just a habit I’ve developed.
The good news is I’m rarely late for anything. You can set your watch by me! The bad news is I rarely get in the zone (or achieve flow, as it’s called in positive psychology), that mental state of energized focus and full involvement in the current activity, so that time doesn’t matter. But when I do get a fleeting glimpse of it, I love it, I want more.
Clock watchers never seem to be having a good time. ~James Cash Penney
So I set a goal this past week to go 24 hours without checking the clock. I set alarms to notify me of times that mattered, so I could still be punctual without giving myself an excuse to cheat. I was not 100-percent successful, but I did pretty well, and it seemed to help. So I extended the challenge to two days and then three. I’m midway through day four right now. Sometimes I still wonder what time it is, but I’ve also gone long periods without a thought for the clock. I’m going to keep at it—make note of those activities that are most conducive to flow and do more of those things.
I’d love to hear your stories.
What activities most often get you in a state of flow where you forget all about the past and future and are totally in the present moment?
Any tips for those of us who struggle to get there?