It is the one year anniversary of my decision to stop wearing a watch.
This would, on the surface, appear to be an illogical decision. Those who know me personally know that I have long been habitually late. I would joke that I arrived two weeks after my due date (true, my poor mother), and I never made up the lost time. Actually, I became 15 minutes late around seventh grade, and maintained that 15 minutes of tardiness for the next 30 years. It is not really a joke though — it is disrespectful to all those around me who have to wait for my idiosyncrasies to arrive where I am supposed to be. It also does not set a very good example for my kids. Jeez, how hard can it be to just get somewhere on time?
Without a lot of bothersome self-deprecating commentary here, I do think The Tardinesss is related to perfectionism. I would always glance at my watch and think I must accomplish just this one more thing before I needed to ________ (insert deadline here). A lethal mix when combined with a sketchy sense of time management and a strong propensity to procrastinate.
So, last summer, I took off my watch and vowed to change a life-long bad habit. Without the crutch of glancing at my wrist and thinking “oh, I must do that before I go”, I had to consciously:
1) seek out the actual time
2) make choices for what to do next
Occasionally, if I can not find a clock (and my cell phone is once again inexplicably dead), I will still ask strangers for the time. Most people actually look happy to tell me, like it reminds them of a time-gone-by when people actually talked to one another and made eye contact. To increase my chances of a pleasant encounter, I do tend to seek out those who are not texting at the time.
I spent the first weeks of this experiment continuing to look down at my wrist only to see it was a hair past a freckle. But somewhere along the way I found (some of) my lost 15 minutes. I am now only occasionally late, sometimes ON TIME, and a few times I have shocked people by being early. It feels good. It is a time-management work in progress.
I recently found a great article with some tips on how to be on time. Author Dustin Wax shares “10 Ways to Make Yourself More Punctual“. I am going to incorporate more of these nifty tricks into my routine. Just FYI, Dustin is also the author of a useful blog The Writer’s Technology Companion.
And, of course, I need to be remember not to let the pendulum swing too far to the other side. As usual, Gretchen Rubin at the Happiness Project provides excellent perspective, this time for not being too rigid about being on time. She has the opposite problem of never being tardy, but her advice still brings balance to my quest.
So, not sporting a watch is working for me. After wearing one for 30 years, its conspicuous absence is like a string tied around my finger, except with less blood flow restriction. I still have my cuckoo clock, but that does not count, not just because I do not wear it on my wrist, but because it does not actually keep time. It just keeps ticking, which keeps me clicking (on the keys…)
Now if only I could mail cards to arrive on (or before) the desired date… hhhmmmm, maybe it is that crutch, the calendar…?