Why does it seem that time passes more slowly when you are watching the clock?

United States
July 2, 2008 3:09pm CST
Have you ever noticed this? When you watch the clock, time drags, but when you get busy doing something else, time takes care of itself and passes more quickly. I have noticed that while doing exercise, five minutes feels like an hour. Mostly because I'm watching my little clock. But when I watch TV while exercising the time flies by. When does time fly by for you? Do you notice that happy times seem to go faster, while sadder times linger?
6 people like this
26 responses
@katsmeow1213 (29047)
• United States
2 Jul 08
It is the theory of relativity, that I believe Einstein first discovered. It's where the old addage comes from "Time flies when you're having fun". For me, time flies when I am being left alone, like when the children are in school or not around. It also tends to fly on hubby's days off.
2 people like this
• United States
16 Aug 08
With me, it's just the opposite. Hubby just got three days off in a row. And usually his days off are super fun. But not this time. Lots of stress. I thought his mini vacation would never be over.
@gemini_rose (16193)
2 Jul 08
Huh I did some exercises tonight and it felt like I was doing it for hours, normally it flies but I am thinking that I was not really in the mood for it tonight. In fact it has been a funny week where I have not been in the mood for anything at all. Time flies when the kids are in school and it is just me and my daughter at home, by the time we get back home and do the chores, have a play and I can then get on the computer for an hour then it is almost time to go back to school to fetch the boys! I think that time goes fast even when I am watching the clock, the slowest that I have ever known time to go is when I gave up smoking a few years ago, that was agony.
2 people like this
• United States
3 Jul 08
I felt the same way when I gave up coffee! It was agony and the hours stretched on forever. Now they fly!
@greysfreak (1385)
• United States
2 Jul 08
Oh definitely! When I exercise at home I usually have to have tv on, and preferably something that I like and know pretty well. That way I have an idea how long it's been, but I'm not staring at the clock wishing I could push fast forward! LOL When I'm at the gym working out I have to have my ipod, and I really have to try to zone out as much as is safe, because if I don't I will stare as every second goes by, and that just drives me crazy. LOL When it comes to other things I find the same thing as you said, sadness just seems to make the clock slow down, and when I'm happy and having a good time the clock zooms by. LOL The worst moments have been in the middle of a traffic jam on the highway during a long trip with my dad. He is very impatient and he starts yelling and cussing and stuff, and I feel like time just stops, and that the sadness will never end! Luckily, usually once we get where we are going and hours have passed, things usually blow over, but I know once this happens, time really does slow down for me.
• United States
3 Jul 08
Been in similar situations with family in the car when I was growing up. And I just felt trapped. Course, when the car ride was over, we all got on with things. But those can be some long uncomfortable trips! Never did like the family car vacation. Too expensive anyway to drive places anymore. So hopefully those are a thing of the past.
@baileycows (3669)
• United States
2 Jul 08
I do not know, but it is really funny because I was just griping about my co-worker pointing out how much time we have left at work. If I don't look at the clock it does go faster. Have you ever really watched a minute go by on the clock? It seems like forever. I guess the old saying of "Time goes by when your having fun is true"
2 people like this
• United States
3 Jul 08
I've done that before! When I was a kid, I would do that all the time. It was fun then, but not so much now.
• United States
2 Jul 08
If you're keeping busy with doing various things, then you won't have time to look at the clock... and the less often you look at the clock, the more time will go by every time you DO look at it. But if all you have to do is stare at a clock and watch it tick, tick, tick away, you're going to become very bored even as you hang on very tick, hoping that time will go faster.. which will seem to make it all the slower.
2 people like this
@Alanlu (12)
• China
3 Jul 08
I agree. Bald thing can make you feel getting through one day as a year.
• United States
2 Jul 08
The first comment is what i was going to say. As for noticing it, i have! My theory is that, your expecting the time to go fast and it isn't. In other words, find a distraction and you'll be fine.
2 people like this
• Canada
2 Jul 08
Time flies faster when you don't watch the clok because you're usually distracted by whatever you're doing or thinking about, but when you're focussing on the clock, all you're thiing about is what time it is. Boring!
1 person likes this
@Shaun72 (15968)
• Palatka, Florida
2 Jul 08
I agree with you. When I go off with a friend or some of my friends I seem to have a great time. At the same time when something bad happens or if I am feeling down in the dumps or having a bad time. The day seems to go by slower.I usally exerisze with music playing that way it seems funnier to me and I enjoy it better and it does seem to make the time that I am exersizing go by faster also.
• United States
3 Jul 08
Friends always make the day go better!
@Shaun72 (15968)
• Palatka, Florida
3 Jul 08
I agree they sure do
@raclie (1732)
• Singapore
3 Jul 08
sure... i have had that before... my exam results, the hour before the plane takes off... and alot more... lol..
• United States
3 Jul 08
I can remember the hour during the time that I was taking the gestational diabetes test when I was pregnant. I had to drink some orange tasting soda and wait. It seemed to drag on forever. Then they took blood. They got the results later. It was negative. I was so lucky cause I had eaten strawberry icecream that week. I'm lucky that it wasn't a positive reading. That stuff is bad for mom and baby!
• Philippines
3 Jul 08
my friend once quoted this: "time is the most playful element" it means that when you want it pass by so badly, it seems to lengthen, but when wish for it to stop, it passes by more quickly. I've experienced it when waiting for somebody, and 15 minutes is just so long. But when I'm enjoying myself, 3 hours is nothing. Especially if I'm buying my time (15/hour on internet rent) Sometimes, i don't even realize that one hour pass by and you'd hear me call "Extend"... LOL
• United States
3 Jul 08
Yes, it's so true! Time on the Internet flies by.
@williamjisir (22904)
• China
3 Jul 08
Well, I think that it is true indeed that time passes that way if we watch the clock, but not when we are busying doing our work. Enjoy your time as always the way you wish, beauty queen.
• United States
3 Jul 08
Thank you! Be well. Thanks for dropping by.
• Australia
2 Jul 08
I have definatley noticed this - especially when I'm expecting something or have an appointment...it's annoying being a clock watcher!!! But then again, sometimes we all have to watch the clock so we're not too late :)
2 Jul 08
Yeah today when i was waiting for my driving instructor i was looking at the clock and time was dragging on, but i went and put some deodrant on aftershave n got a drink etc and time flew by in no time he was there
@chrislotz (8203)
• Canada
29 Aug 08
If it something you are doing that you don't like to do, the time will go slowly. If it is something you like to do time goes fast. If you are going to be late for something and you have to finish something else first, time goes too fast. So it depends what it is that I am doing that sets the time for me. hehe I have attacks where my nerves in my ear swell and covers my eardrum and then my world spins and I get nauseated and sick and it only lasts about 15 minutes but feels like hours and hours. That is because it is uncomfortable. So like I said, it depends on what is happening at the time, whether the time goes fast or slowly.
• United States
5 Jul 08
Doing exercises the clock goes backwards for me I swear. When you are busy or doing something your mind is busy and the time goes by fast because you are occupied but when you are watching the clock your mind is busy watching that stupid clock and not busy doing something else. Time is time and goes only so fast or so slow it is your mind that makes it seem slow. The trick is doing our exercises and keeping our mind occupied or being able to get a 30 minute workout done in 5 minutes.
@wachit14 (3600)
• United States
3 Jul 08
If you are watching the clock, chances are that you are doing something you really don't like and that could include anything from working to working out. In those situations, time really does seem to pass very slowly with anticipation. However, did you ever find that when you are doing something very enjoyable, time just flies by?
@Demonata (16)
• United States
3 Jul 08
I think it's because when your waiting for something, you look at the clock to see the time it actually moves pretty slow. But when your doing something in the meantime, you get caught up in it and then the time flys~!
@muxicka (216)
• Philippines
3 Jul 08
Simple, it's because of the feeling of anxiety when you're watching over the time.
• United States
3 Jul 08
I have noticed that when I'm happier times flies...I'm not sure why that is. I believe that when you watch the clock it's the only thing you're concentrating on..it's boring. When you're doing a lot of activities or have things on the mind it seems quicker because you're more interested by it.
@aimsmith (30)
• United States
3 Jul 08
Yea, if you take your mind off of the time then things really do seem to go a lot faster. The time just makes you worry and your mind might focus on it more than other things. So if the time is a priority on your mind, it will seem like it is going by slowly. Just work harder or do something else and before you know it, you will be done or your day at work has ended.
• India
3 Jul 08
if the situation is analyzed,then the result is something like this. you are watching the clock.it implies either you do not have any other work, or you are stressed or doing a very boring task which you want to finish early.so you are disinterested with the clock as your only company.but few people love such a company. so you end up getting mega bored or ultra stressed. this simply spins a virtual web around you that time is passing slowly.this is just a falacy, nothing else. i think you are satisfied with my derivation. but yes, there are times when actually time passes slowly. you know when. when your battery operated clock is low in battery.hahaha. enjoy and happy my lotting.