Counterclockwise: Rethinking Time Series Part 2

Part 2: Clockwatching 24/7

7:50. 8:51. 9:47. 10:43. 11:45. 1:15. 2:11. 3:07.

These may seem like arbitrary times, but for me, they hold a much deeper meaning. For these are the times that I always seem to be watching for, as they are the times my classes end. And if I’m not counting down the remaining hours of school, I am counting down the remaining days until Friday. Most high school students follow the exact same time-watching trend, but is it doing us a favor?

No matter it be in school, work, or anything else equally as monotonous, we all find ourselves constantly (consciously or unconsciously) clockwatching. We have become fixated on time itself – not because it is the unified pulse of the world, but rather it is something that needs to come to pass. The trend of clockwatching has not been a recent occurrence, but has served as a reminder of how very little time we are spending in the present moment. By choosing to be distracted by the hours upon the clock, our Old Cultural Story has us involved very passively in life. Instead of submersing ourselves in the present time, we wait and watch for it to be over. Virtually, the now moment has become so obscured by the distraction of future plans that we are fully disengaged.  

Psychologists, scientists, and even economists have now begun to recognize the negative results of the disengaged passive role that clockwatching has brought about. In the workplace, there appears the growing trend of ‘presenteeism’, in which employees show up for work, but are so unfocused and disengaged on the task at hand that they become anti-productive. In the article by management author Daniel Sitter, “Presenteeism: The Hidden Cost of Business”, the disengaged worker has cost businesses an average of $250 billion per year. Simply due to ‘life distractions’, nearly 75% of the workforce is not engaged in their work or their career. Literally, presenteeism suggests though we are being physically present, we are not being emotionally present or being spiritually present. In this state, we are absent from the present moment. If in business or if in life, we are losing out, and losing time.

So, can we be present in the present moment? We can, if we decide to engage ourselves – in our tasks and in life itself. One of the largest engagement campaigns occurring today is actually occurring at the high school level. The University of Indiana’s 2010 High School Survey of Student Engagement (HSSSE) found that nearly  that nearly 82% of students wish to be more creative in the classroom, and that over 65% of students prefer “discussions with no clear answer”. Hmmm, students want to be challenged, want to expand their consciousness, and want to spend their time in school discovering (not being told) about Who They Are and What Is their World. We don’t desire to always clockwatch, but without the creative presence, interest starts to wane. High School students want to be engaged, we just need the environment where our engagement can thrive. If we choose to be a creative force, in the classroom or elsewhere, we can be far more than just the sum of our parts.  

In a single day, there are approximately 86,400 seconds. That means that there are 86,400 times in a day to enjoy life – instead of watching it pass by. Will you be passive, will you wait and watch? Or, will you engage, and create a reason for life in every single second? Make your choice. Time’s ticking.

(Lauren is a Feature Editor of The Global Conversation. She lives in Wood Dale, IL, and can be reached at

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