Are you on Clock time or Event time? | Sunday Observer

Are you on Clock time or Event time?

4 April, 2021

Research shows that individuals can be divided in two groups as it comes to dealing with scheduled tasks over time:

Clock time and Event time.

Clock time

Individuals that treat time as ‘clock time’ divide the day in tasks and plan their day based on an external clock dictating when a task is finished and when the next starts. For example: breakfast at 7.30am, work from 9am till 5pm, dinner at 6pm.

Event time

Individuals that treat time as ‘event time’ divide the day in tasks and have an internal sense that signals when the previous task is complete so they can continue to the next task. For example: work begins after breakfast, dinner starts after work.

The majority of the people in a western society live on a ‘clock time’ routine as part of their culture to think of the current in relation to the future. Not all cultures are like that. I experienced that first hand when travelling in South-East Asia.

I noticed that the majority of the local people in Asia don’t even wear a watch. For them it doesn’t seem to matter what time it exactly is. They tend to live more in the present and enjoy doing what they are doing and go to the next task when they feel like.

Did you notice that when you’re on holidays, you automatically switch to a more event time daily routine (if you weren’t already)? Funny huh? It’s quite obvious, though. When on holidays you want to relax, just chill out on the beach and do nothing until you feel like doing something. That’s exactly what event time is all about.


It can be challenging to be an event time individual in a clock time society. For example, you told a ‘clock time’-driven individual, ie. named ‘James’, that you would deliver a product on Monday early in the morning. ‘Early morning’ is a relative definition. James expects you to deliver between 7- and 9am because that fits his clock-driven schedule. Off course, you delivered the product nicely at 8 am, but if you would’ve delivered the product at 10am it could lead to an irritated James. And we don’t want an irritated James, do we?


So, when building an awesome product, say a Mac app, what type of individual give you the best result? A mixture of both, i would say. As said before.. a clock time driven individual let the clock decide if something is finished, where the event time individual follows his internal sense. The event time guy could end up with better product, but it could take time twice as long as the clock time guy because he’s a perfectionist and tries to get everything as complete as possible. He’s more like an artist making a painting. His painting of a flower could be done within a day, but not for him. He’s listening to nothing else but his own feeling, not letting the external clock decide when the painting is finished.

Having both types in your creative team and working closely with each other can help each individual to reach the maximum talent. The ‘clock time’-individuals can help the ‘event time’-individuals set boundaries and deadlines for their tasks to keep them within their planning. Where the event timers help the clock timers be more relaxt and focus more on completing the task based on feeling rather than time.

Setting a deadline for a product launch and sticking to it seem to help you achieve your goal(s) faster, but does that give you the best product? The definition of ‘best’ is relative and different for everyone. At some point you have say “That’s it, we’re done!” and launch your product.

Personally, I think ‘time’ is awesome. It’s for everyone the same, but we use it in our own ways.