Thursday, September 11, 2008
Are you one of those people who, when asked how long ago something happened or how long something took, you give a rough estimate that's way off? Or are you chronically late because you're convinced that your morning routine or commute takes 15 minutes when in reality, it takes 25 or 30? Do you cook a dish for 50 minutes rather than 30 (as the recipe instructed) because you "lost track of time"? Some people are better able to judge the passing of time than others, but fortunately, this is an ability that can be developed with the following exercises.
Keep all your clocks as correct as you can make them. Remember to check the ones on your computer, car, and cell phone. When you enter a new environment, check any clocks and note whether or not they match yours. While you are training yourself, wear a watch, or carry a phone or other clock with you at all times. The more accurate your clocks, the better you'll be able to fine-tune your sense of time.
Stabilize your circadian rhythm. Humans have a natural internal clock that regulates biological processes. If this rhythm is disrupted, not only will you have difficulty judging time, but it can also have negative effects on your health and productivity. To keep your circadian rhythm optimized, develop a routine in which you eat, sleep, and expose yourself to natural light at about the same times each day.
Every time you think of it,guess to yourself what time it is. Check a clock or watch. Make a point of correcting yourself. Think or say to yourself something like "I thought it was 10:20, but it's actually 10:34. I was 14 minutes slow." This is your time sense gap.
You can make it a habit to do this every time you encounter a certain landmark or object, such as a stop sign, traffic light, or mirror.
You may want to try guessing the time when you awake, if you do not wake to an alarm.
Whenever you get a chance, check a clock, and make note of the time. Go about your regular life, attempting to guess when it has been one hour. Check a clock on your guess, and make note of your time sense gap. As you get better, vary the time intervals you try to guess.
When you start a task with a defined beginning and end (reading a chapter of a book, driving to a friend's house, taking a shower) guess how long it will take you. When you finish, guess how long it actually took you. Check the time. How far off was your initial guess? How far off was your second guess?
When you start a task that has a specified time frame(like when cooking), set a timer for the upper end of the range given. For example, if you're to cook oatmeal for 3-5 minutes, set a timer for 5 minutes. Assign yourself the task of guessing when 3 or 4 minutes have passed. If you make a mistake, the timer will save you from having burnt oatmeal. But with practice, you'll develop a sense for how long to leave the oatmeal cooking, as many chefs learn to do with various dishes they cook often.
7. Record your progress in a time sense journal. Whenever you observe a time sense gap, write it down. You might notice a pattern, like that you tend to be about 15 minutes slow in the morning, and 30 minutes fast in the afternoon. Or, like most people, time will seem to pass slowly when you're doing something monotonous or boring, and pass quickly when you're keeping busy or having fun. As you continue matching your guesses with reality, your sense of time will noticeably improve.
Some children who grow up in an unstructured household (in which activities are not in any way associated with time) may have difficulty adjusting to school, where many activities are scheduled (like having crayons taken away because coloring time is over, or not finishing a test because time is up). Offering children a sense of time and sequence (like "Finish cleaning your room so you can play with your brother when he gets home at 2:30") can help.
It can help to get a clock or watch which beeps or chimes at each hour. This will help attune your body to the "rhythm" of the day.
If you have access to thermometers during the day, you can use some of these tips to learn to gauge the temperature as well by estimating the temperature before you check the thermometer. If you walk to work, see if your route can take you past a bank thermometer sign, and make your guess just before you get to the sign.
Stimulants (including caffeine) may cause you to overestimate time intervals, while depressants may do the opposite.
Nicotine cravings can cause you to perceive time as passing more slowly than it really is.
People with Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), or Schizophrenia often struggle with time perception. If you display any other symptoms of these conditions, see a doctor.
In addition, people who have [Multiple Sclerosis] can develop a poor sense of timing.