Katya Seberson is a results-oriented SAT and ACT tutor. After struggling through school with dyslexia and a learning disability, Katya taught herself new learning techniques that allowed her to succeed. The company she started, ExecutiveMind, Inc., has helped students commonly gain 190+ on the SAT and 4+ points on the ACT.
By Katya Seberson
As far as we know, human beings are the only mammals who can tell time.
Since the clock has become a permanent fixture our homes ONLY around the 16th century, telling time is a relatively new feature in our evolution, and we (humans) are horrible at time perception. Let me explain.
Time perception is your ability to sense how much time has passed since you started doing something. Let’s say you are writing an essay on a piece of paper (weird, I know), and tell yourself, “let me spend 10 minutes on this paragraph.” How likely is it that you will put your pen down in exactly 10 minutes? Unless you have a clock in sight, there is an almost 100% guarantee you won’t stop after exactly 10 minutes. If you are engaged in a task, you will likely spend more time (time flies when you are having fun), and if you are stuck, you will likely spend less then 10 minutes... “a watched pot never boils.”
We are lousy at telling time because our brain is NOT designed to sense time well. We have areas in our brain dedicated to sight, hearing, smelling, etc. that have been perfected through evolution, but there is NO distinct area in the brain exclusively devoted to sensing time.
What about the biological clock, you ask?
Yes, our biological clock relies on messages from our vital systems to compose a prediction about how much time has passed. Scientists agree that the brain may have several different clocks working together, but independently, the brain selects a “winner” from these different possible timings depending on the context.
Why should I care about telling time if I can always look at the clock?
Developing a good sense of time is a valuable skill in many areas of personal development. Many of you know that the time management industry (teaching people how to manage their schedules) has exploded in the last few years. Many people feel inadequate when they are unable to tell how much time has passed since the meeting, the exam, or the call has started. In my work as a tutor, I see students continuously run out of time on a test as they lack knowing how much time they’ve spent so far on a problem and how much time is left.
The Time Timer has been a magical tool for my students and myself to develop the time perception skill. Because it’s visual, the brain can now lean on the visual cortex (one of the largest areas in the brain) to help itself develop a good sense of how much time has passed and how much time is left. As you are working, the red circle keeps disappearing, letting you know that the time is ticking away, setting the rhythm.
Because the circle is large and very vivid, you can sense how much time is left with your peripheral vision without even looking at the clock directly — no need to stop your task and switch your attention to the clock. I have my Time Timer right next to me as I am typing this article. It shows that I have 15 minutes left of the time I planned to spend on writing this short article for you.
Notice, my eyes are glued to the screen, and I keep my focus on the task, and I am not checking my phone and getting distracted. The Time Timer is a great tool to develop an invaluable sense of time, focus and perfect your time management at work or school.