Stop wearing a watch (Exercise #4)

April 25, 2006

There's no reason anymore to wear a watch other than to complement a fashion choice.  And if you're wearing a watch for appearances, there's no need for the watch to work.  So, wear a watch only if it's broken.

Watches are training wheels for learning how to live within a world demarkated by timed periods.  And yet, they are addictive.  People with watches, when you suggest they stop wearing one, will look longingly at their wrist, perhaps cup the watch and their wrist in their other hand, and say, "But I like wearing a watch."  It's an emotional decision, but if you ask them why they like wearing their watch, most likely they will confabulate a logical reason for their literal attachment.  Usually: I need to know what time it is in order to keep my appointments.

Though I've conducted no scientific studies on the matter, I am fairly confident that there is no correllation between people who wear watches and people who are punctual.  In fact, wearing a watch may give you a false sense of control over time… even if you're going to be late you'll know exactly how late you are when you arrive.  Being punctual is  an important trait to try and adopt, and is much better addressed directly.  In order to be on time, do not get a watch.  Instead, make a conscious effort to be realistic about time.  Study your own time predictions and see where your instinct is off.  Ask your friends if you are punctual and if you aren't then ask them how late you usually are.  I can categorize my friends into buckets based on how late they usually are: people who are on time, people who are 5 minutes late, people who are 15 minutes late, and people who are 30 minutes late.  People become consistent on this metric and subconsciously know how late they usually are and feel pressured to maintain that punctuality because that is what they have trained friends and family to expect from them.  But, one single adjustment of somewhere between 5 and 30 minutes could solve the punctuality problem forever.  It's not a watch thing.

So, I encourage everyone that wears a watch to stop wearing one for 30 days.  Your wrist will adjust.  You will find other ways to figure out the time (for example, you probably already have a cell phone with the time on it).  You will learn that understanding time can become an instinct and precision will not matter as much as the spirit with which you engage the time-driven world.  Ride ahead of it, don't be its bitch. 

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