Clocks, control, and creativity: Why tuning out time might make you more productive

Thinking in serial events could improve happiness

Ignoring the clock and thinking in terms of "event" periods may increase a sense of control and creativity, according to a new paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Anne-Laure Sellier from New York University's Stern School of Business and Tamar Avent from Yeshiva University's Syms School of Business have been chronicling in a series of papers the effects of being a "clock-time" versus an "event-time" person.

Those who think in "clock-time" schedule their days by hours, while "event-time" people schedule serially, working a task until a natural stopping point before moving on.

Contextual, cultural, and genetic differences affect the manner people use, say researchers.

Sellier and Avnet argue that event-timers are happier, because they maintain a stronger sense of control and are able to savor experiences more.

In one experiment, half of the participants in a yoga class were prepped to think in "clock-time" when the instructor told them how long to hold each pose. The other half took a session where the instructor only told them to hold one pose at a time.

The latter group reported feeling more in control and performed the poses better.

Researchers also say clock-time thinking stifles creativity. A yet-to-be-published paper will reveal the evidence to support that finding (Bennett, Bloomberg Businessweek, 10/10).


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