Seriously. The human brain has the ability to keep track of time rather accurately, you just need to train yourself to use the ability.
I got in a car wreck & the airbag embedded my watch in my wrist, breaking my wrists in the process. So while it healed, I couldn’t wear my watch.
I’d read about experiments showing brain power & telling time so I used the opportunity to try to learn the skill.
By the time my wrist had healed enough to wear a watch again, I no longer needed it. Haven’t worn a watch since.
Save yourself some money that you would have spent on watches & learn it. Sorry Meh.
*Edit: My wife wanted me to add that I like to freak people out, so when they ask me for the time I sniff my armpit before telling them the time, as though I use by body odor to determine elapsed time.
They’ll usually look skeptical and/or disgusted, ask someone else for the time, then when its the time I said it was, they quickly look & see I’m not wearing a watch & walk away wondering about the crazy man with accurate armpits.*
@mbimeh Can you provide some more information on how you trained yourself to do this?
I know Jack Reacher does it and never wears a watch, outside of the second book where his watch was an important plot device, but this is the first time I’ve heard of a real person doing it.
Ok to start with, keep wearing your watch at first. Just put a piece of masking tape or something on the face to cover the time.
Whenever you wonder what time it is, stop first and ask yourself what time it was when you last looked. Then take a moment to just estimate how much time you think has elapsed since you last checked, and use that to guess what time you think it is now.
Once you have your guess, peel back the tape and see how close your guess is. Do this for a few days to see if your guesses have any consistency in being over or under. I find people are often somewhat consistent about either guessing over or under the actual time. At this point don’t worry if your guesses are way off; this is just so you can start to learn how your brain perceives time.
After a few days, based on how accurate you were, and whether your internal brain clock seems fast or slow, when you estimate the time, stop & make a conscious adjustment to your guess (plus or minus) to account for your earlier errors. Then check your watch & see how close your revised guess is.
It’s OK if you arent consistently over or under. If you arent consistent, just continue the exercises but without making that conscious adjustment to your guess.
I find that if you do this long enough, you tend to naturally start being more accurate in estimating the time.
I don’t know if it’s just because you’re now paying closer attention to the time, or if it’s because you’re forcing yourself to stop and use your brain before looking at your watch. Or something else. But making yourself stop & think before looking at a clock seems to be a powerful tool to train your brain.
It took me about six weeks to fairly consistently be able to guess the time to within 15 or 20 minutes, at any time of day, no matter how long it’s been since I looked at a clock to “recalibrate” my mind’s internal clock.
In the years since I first started this I’ve gotten more accurate. Now I can frequently (but not always) guess to within five minutes. I sometimes guess the time dead-on, or within a minute or two, often enough that it still makes my wife raise her eyebrows even though I’ve been doing this for over 20 years now. I guess in some ways the brain is like a muscle: the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.
When just getting started at doing this, check the time before you begin any routine tasks in your life: whether it’s your work commute, watering the garden, taking a shower, or whatever. Anything at all that you do regularly, make a note of it, either written or in your mind, as to how long it takes you to do those various things you often do, or drive (or bike or walk) to those places you frequently visit. If you read a lot, even time your reading speed, like how many pages you usually read in ten minutes, or an hour, or however you want to measure it.
For doing this task I carried a mechanical stopwatch with me for a few weeks, hung aroung my neck on a thin chain, when my wrists were broken and I couldn’t wear a watch. Mainly because I happened to already have a stopwatch. But however you do it, spend a few weeks & keep track of about how long the things in your life take to do them.
Doing this will help you in several ways:
As a side effect, when you start really paying attention to the time you spend on things, you tend to get a little faster at them. Or you might find different & faster ways to do those things. There’s a psychological term for this effect, but I can’t remember the name right now.
Another side-effect is that you might also get a bit more efficient at organization & time management. If you’re not already, you’ll probably also become a bit more punctual as you get a more realistic picture of exactly how long things really take to do.
As you develop this mental list of task times, it gives you a useful tool to help you in your original exercise I first mentioned, in guessing the time:
When you wonder what time it is and, for example, remember it was 5pm when you last checked, but you have NO idea what time it is now, just think of what you’ve done since then. Perhaps you left work at 5pm, then drove home (usually 30 minutes), mowed the lawn (usually 60 minutes), then took a shower (usually 15 minutes), and now you’re drying off. You can add it up & realize it must be 6:45pm right now, before you even look at the clock. All because you’ve been timing yourself.
But just as importantly, what you’re doing here by timing yourself, is training your subconscious mind to start keeping track of time. Whether you feel it or not, by tracking this stuff you’re forcing your brain to play a more active role in keeping track of the passage of time.
Ask yourself this: have you ever looked at the time, then you’re so bored in waiting for something to happen, that you catch yourself checking the clock again even though it’s only been a minute or two? That’s just us allowing or brains to be lazy. Experiments have shown that most adults can estimate the passage of a single minute with reasonable accuracy.
All you’re doing is expanding that skill and retraining your brain and your habits to not be lazy when it comes to timekeeping.
Warning: Giphy seems to have selected a 218.5 meg [sic] gif for that one. If you wait, though, you’ll see younger Kevin Spacey in some scene I’ve apparently missed chewing out some even younger dude in an office, subtitled, occasionally creatively, about a gif-off tournament or something.