Time awareness

time untime

My watch broke a few weeks ago. No big deal. However it’s summer, the children are at home, and my wife has broken her watch too (careless you might say). The effect has been dramatic. We get hardly anything done; routine has disappeared; days race by in a flash; and we are loving our untimed life. So I started thinking about time, or more particularly, time awareness.

Time is weird. We sense it, yet we have no sense organ to detect it. It’s fixed and regular, yet we know it’s relative. It doesn’t exist in any concrete sense, yet our lives are built around it. Time affects everything. Specifically, our awareness of time also affects our productivity, creativity and happiness.

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Play isn´t the opposite of work

play work

Play has little place in most modern organisations. Unless you work in Silicon Valley or for a wacky design agency with play dens and fireman’s poles, it just isn’t the norm at work. As young children, any distinction between play and work is meaningless; they do everything through play. As we grow, we learn how to recognise different situations require different behaviours. This learning is stored as behavioural scripts – a kind of autopilot system – which get activated whenever we enter particular environments. With hardly any conscious effort, your behaviour automatically shifts as you enter a library, your local pub or work. We learn to segregate play from work at school, which is then reinforced when we enter employment. So, on entering work we shift, automatically, into non-play mode.

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Go away! You’re making me nervous!

being observed - Copy

Where’s the K?  Why is it so much harder to do some things when we’re being watched?  I’m not a touch typer, but I’m reasonably fast and fluent on a keyboard…unless there’s someone at my shoulder.  If I’m being observed, suddenly consonants start hiding!

The mere presence of people has been known to affect performance for many years.  Norman Triplett, back in 1898, noticed that cyclists consistently achieved faster race times when cycling with others.  He concluded that the “bodily presence of another contestant” alone was enough to improve performance.  Further research found that performance often improves when that ‘bodily presence’ isn’t even competing.  For example, simply having observers on tasks ranging from sports to mathematics and word puzzles, also raises performance.  This phenomenon became known as social facilitation.

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This blog will change how you judge


How do you make judgements?

Would you be surprised if I told you that many of your judgements had little to do with the facts at all? Consider even the most rational of all choices: what company to invest in. How would you choose to invest your hard-earned money: a review of their trading record, a careful analysis of their annual report or an evaluation of the market trends in that industry? How about how nice their name was? Continue reading…

I don’t like buffets


Buffets give me loads of choice, provide instant gratification and save me time.

All good, surely. The problem isn’t the buffet, it’s me. When faced with an abundance of options I can’t help loading my plate up too high with a weird assortment of flavors and textures. A selection no self-respecting chef would ever place on a plate at once: who would mix chicken korma, beef wellington and grilled salmon (apart from me in a buffet frenzy). Continue reading…