Whatever Watches Your Watch

A few years back, I read an opinion article detailing the benefits of setting your watch five minutes fast. Since I had more than a few close calls almost missing my morning bus, I decided to try it out.

At first, my timepiece tactic worked well. For a couple months, my watch helped me consistently get to the bus stop on time or even early. I became more conscious of my time, slowing from scarfing down my breakfast to a more comfortable pace, and I no longer half-jogged down the street when I left my house. I thought I had found a solution. But as the air turned crisper and the leaves stopped falling, I began to abuse my system just slightly.

After all, it was freezing cold outside, I (being the typical high schooler) had neglected my jacket, and I knew I was going to be early anyways ― why not wait a few more seconds in the warmth of my living room? As the seconds turned into minutes and the time flew by, I was right back to where I started.

I went through the cycle of steeling myself to stick to my five minute rule and then eventually losing motivation over and over again, until I had an unorthodox idea ― continue to set my watch ahead, but have someone else set the amount so that I didn’t know the exact time. Since I would have a general ― but not exact idea of what time it was, I would be motivated to arrive extra early, just in case my watch was only a few minutes fast.

After trying the system out for a few months and making some tweaks (like resetting the time every month so I couldn’t figure out how fast my watch was), I ended up with a system that has saved me from confusing class times and midnight deadlines. Could I simply force myself to go places on time instead? Of course, but where’s the fun in that? My system motivates me to remember always to watch my watch.


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