Changing time zones

With a few of my new organisation and time management prediction algorithms I have found that I can plan down to a few minutes accurately.  I noticed something today that surprised me.

I wear two watches.  The history of this goes back more than 10 years, but today I wear two watches because one of them is analog and never runs out of battery and the other is digital and tracks heart rate, skin temp, perspiration and other metrics while also being a smart digital watch and telling the time, but only has a 4 day long battery life.

My digital watch updates to whatever time my phone is set to, which updates to global servers etc. so that watch is the right time.  I accidentally set my analog watch fast and then noticed I would get places just on time, or quite very exactly on time instead of 5 minutes late.  I really lucked out with this behaviour, because it took me a while to figure out what is happening.  Or what I think is happening.

When I am running late, I check the time in a system 1 way, which means I glance at my watch and continue about my day.  Then my brain takes the information granted by the visual angle of the hands and converts that into time for me to work out if I am running late or on time.  By having my analog watch fast, I will take actions that involve assumptions that the time is actually faster than it is.  For example, deciding to leave my house because I “should have left already”, instead of spending another 5 minutes on whatever I am doing.

If I am planning tasks for the future, or doing other time-checking behaviour, I do it using system 2, I naturally check both my watches so that I get an accurate feel for the time now.


Today I was struck by the idea I was suddenly running late.  Which is not a feeling I was expecting given that I was in fact running squarely on time.  Where what actually transpired was that I was looking at computer time when I decided to go in the shower, and when I got out of the shower I looked at analog time.  Which put me squarely past the “running right on time” and into the “definitely running late”. In other words I changed time zone on myself.

This whole post is to note that noticing when things surprise you is an excellent habit to have.  This case was pretty cut and dry as I analysed why I was late and concluded that I in fact was not.  But the next thing to surprise me might not be so obvious.

Question: What has surprised you recently?  What happened, how did your map of the world fail to explain what was going to happen?

Meta: this took an hour to write.

Cross posted to lesswrong:

Liked it? Take a second to support E on Patreon!
This entry was posted in models of thinking and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply