Time hack: How I stopped being an obsessive clock-checker (and why you should, too)

Guest post by Sarah Curtis-Tilton
Photo by smemon – CC BY 2.0
Photo by smemonCC BY 2.0

During a conversation with a co-worker, I noticed her looking quizzically over my shoulder at my computer screen: “Is that so you don’t look at the time?” She was referring to the tiny, square, pink post-it note that lived on the bottom right corner of my desktop screen. And, yes, it was there so that I couldn’t see the time.

Naturally, I have since used my Google-Fu to figure out how to simply remove the clock from the task bar…

But that first pink post-it was an experiment.

I don’t know about you, but I sit in front of computers a lot. At work, I’m in front of a screen most of the day, and when I come home I usually spend some (or a lot) more time in front of my laptop screen. After years of this behavior it finally dawned on me that I was constantly aware of what time it was, even when I wasn’t aware that I was looking at any clock. So I grabbed a post-it pad and my scissors, cut that little pink square, and covered that clock on the screen.

It made a huge difference. Even with multiple other clocks in the room, when I stopped subconsciously checking the time on my screen, I started making the conscious decision to look up at a different clock, or pick up my phone to check the hour. This may seem inconsequential but it’s meant that time goes by more naturally instead of seeming to drag on minute by minute. It’s also helped improve my focus since, when I’m not thinking about the amount of time I’m spending on a project, or how many seconds I have left until that fun thing I’m doing later, my mind is clearer for the task at hand. Perhaps best of all, it has helped me manage those nagging worries that I won’t have enough time to get everything done. For some reason, watching the minute hand inch toward a deadline doesn’t help me get the work done faster, but it does make me more anxious; who would have guessed?

If you think you may be an obsessive, subconscious clock-checker, I highly recommend you conduct your own experiment.

  • Here’s how to remove your clock on Windows 7 and 8.
  • Here’s how to remove your clock on Macs.
  • You can also try playing around with other clock configurations! If simply removing the clock from your screen doesn’t quite to the trick for you, try positioning other clocks in the room behind you, or anywhere that makes it harder to quickly glance at them without thinking.

What useful time hacks have you picked up to help you navigate your day? Be sure to share so that we may all experience the joys of successful time hacking! (Also, does anyone else think that “time hack” sounds time lord-esque and will now be referring to themselves as a time hacker?)

Comments on Time hack: How I stopped being an obsessive clock-checker (and why you should, too)

  1. I just turned off my clock, thanks for the tip! I’m interested to see what kind of difference it will make for me.

  2. I get anxious if I can’t see a clock. I literally have them everywhere, and I hate being on airplanes because of the lack of time pieces. I can’t imagine turning off my clocks or turning them away.

    • I do too. My friends gently tease me for wearing an old-fashioned wristwatch, but on the very rare occasions that I’m not wearing it, it makes me so anxious not to literally have the time on me. So weird!

  3. I try to avoid clock watching too, so if I have something I need to do at a certain time, I’ll set an alarm clock or timer on my phone and then forget about it. It works really well.

  4. I will definitely try this at home. At work it is too hard for me. I work as a chemist for a pharmaceutical company in our QC Laboratory. I do a lot of testing that is time-sensitive. So even with a timer I am always looking at a clock, any clock. My phone, the wall, the computer, the timer. The sad thing is, I would love to do this at work. But I have to watch the seconds creep by so I don’t miss a crucial step. Bleh!

  5. I can totally identify with the anxiety that comes from clock watching! I had an hourly alert on my last work computer that I liked, because it gave me an idea of the time without fretting about the minute-to-minute stuff. It was a plugin for chrome so it should be easy to find, I forget the name now, though.

  6. When I was a student teacher (9th grade English), I eventually covered the clock in my room because the kids were watching it way too much. I could see their heads physically turned, eyes up. It made a HUGE, WONDERFUL difference and guess what? Class still ended at the same time and they got to have lunch, every single day 🙂 YMMV, but it worked for us after they got used to it (I still knew what time it was, of course).

  7. That was amazingly freeing. I actually felt myself relax as I saw the time disappear from the corner of my screen. Now I just want to get one of those clocks that makes a different bird noise each hour.

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