Daily Archives: January 19, 2023

Clock-timer or Event-timer: Which Are You?

After several days of rain—unusual for Arizona—the sun was shining, and I felt great as I listened to All Things Considered on NPR. The reporter, Pien Huang, began the story “In Praise of Being Late” by asking rhetorical questions such as, “Are you like me, chronically late?” “Have you been told by your friends and family that you’re being disrespectful and not valuing their time?”

Having arrived at my destination, I was opening the car door when Huang said, “Maybe it’s partly their problem.” Hearing this, I closed the door and sat in the car to hear the rest of the story.

alarm clock in field of grass with dandelion

Huang quoted a number of researchers who supported the idea that some people are “clock-timers” and some are “event-timers” to a lesser or greater extent. According to this report, clock-timers use external time cues such as a schedule or clock and event-timers move when they “feel” it’s time.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been criticized by friends and colleagues for being on time. I don’t know where the habit of being punctual came from, but I’m grateful for having such a characteristic. Because I have to struggle to be on time, I admit that I am often annoyed when I’m left waiting.

Having engagements and meetings with event-timers before cell phones was a real problem for me because I would usually worry that something bad happened to the person. I’d also vacillate between waiting another 15 minutes or abandoning the meeting. Now that there are cell phones, the event-timers can give notice of when they expect to arrive.

One research conclusion referenced is that your time orientation “shapes the way you think about the world and the way you make decisions.”

In my next blog, I will share some of the differences or contrasts that are purported to be related to whether you prefer to be on time according to the clock/schedule or whether you show up according to how you feel.