The Power of a Ticking Clock

A few months ago I changed the location of my home office, it’s still in my house, it’s just in a different room. There’s now a bookcase behind me, and on that bookcase is a clock. It’s an analogue clock with a small pendulum that used to reside on the mantlepiece at my grandparents. It’s a relatively plain wooden clock, but it carries with it memories.

For years that clock has stood silent in various location around my house, the thought of keeping it wound was somehow daunting and so the pendulum remained still. A busy life and clockwork machinery didn’t feel like companions.

The clock is in a prominent location and visible just over my shoulder when I am on video calls. Several of my colleagues have commented on the clock telling the wrong time to which I would normally joke that it told the correct time twice a day, which is better than many clocks.

Recently the thought occurred to me that, as I was spending more time in my home office, I should give the clock a try and see what happened. Perhaps it would stop the comments.

The first hurdle was that I had the clock but no key to wind it, but that’s no impediment in the age of Amazon and next day delivery. As you would expect, also in the age of Amazon, I now have two keys, because two were cheaper than one.

I opened the clock face and looked at the two keyholes trying to decide which one was the clock and which the chime. My intention was to have the clock working without the chime because I wasn’t sure that I wanted the chimes going in meetings. I couldn’t decide which was which so wound both of them just a couple of turns to see what happened. A quick tap of the pendulum and the familiar tick-tock eased into it’s gentle rhythm as if it had only stopped a couple of days previously. I turned the minute hand around to the top and listened as the chime rang out – bong, bong. The chimes were out of sync by several hours, but that was easily fixed after I referenced YouTube.

The clock continued for the rest of the day and it kept remarkably good time so I left it running.

In just a day of running I started to notice something about the clock, it’s steady continuous tick-tock was having an impact upon me. As my mental state sped-up with stress, the clock acted as a metronome to bring me back to rhythm. The chimes that I had anticipated being annoying interruptions became soothing reminders of the day’s progression. The sounds of the clock were gently easing their way into my daily soundtrack. The constancy become comforting. I suspect it’s also having a positive impact on my productivity.

The clock is still ticking and I’ve become a little bit obsessed about winding it and adjusting it. It’s almost like it is talking to me and asking me to look after it.

The day after I first wound the clock, I was on a call with the colleagues who had commented about my clock and none of them noticed that the clock was now running until it chimed for the time that the meeting was due to finish. These chimes have a secondary benefit, people respond to them and end meetings as they chime. That wasn’t something I was expecting.

(This post has again demonstrated to me the madness of the English language – every time I typed wind, wound or winding I would look at it and have to convince myself again that these were the correct spellings and that I wasn’t talking about the movement of air, an injury or something you do to a baby.)

Header Image: This is the clock, on its shelf, ticking.

One thought on “The Power of a Ticking Clock”

  1. The power of chimes in a meeting is a great checkpoint to keep it on track and on-time. If you set it 5 mins fast you will get your meetings down to 25 or 55 mins, leaving time to get a break and coffee before your next one. It would be great if there was a wider adoption of the shorter meetings. The move to virtual has tended to driven it the other way.

    Like

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