Train Yourself to Correctly Guess the Time, Every Time

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Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Rico of My Dear Friends.

Do you constantly check your watch or your cellphone to see what time it is? Do you feel like you always have to know exactly what time it is right in that moment, no matter where you are or what you are doing? Well, here is another approach: leave that watch at home and rely on your natural sense of time. You’d be surprised how accurate it can be with just a little bit of practice.

And of course, it can also be a great source of pleasure watching the disbelief and astonishment on your friends’ faces when you, again, guess the time correctly down to five minutes. Truth is, western culture is so time driven that time is always present in its absolute form, watches, cellphones, at train stations, bus stops, computers, cars, pretty much anything that has an electronic display almost certainly has the ability to show the time and makes use of it. So people tend to forget that for thousands and thousands of years, human beings as well as many other living creatures relied on the sun and that inner sense of time to tell whether to sleep, wake, hunt, collect food, or gather for meetings.

With just a couple of simple steps and a little bit of practice, you can rediscover that age old instinct.

  • Find your fixture: Think of the last time you knew the time for sure and picture that time in your head. Where were you? What type of clock was it you read the time from? Was it the alarm clock in your bedroom, your cellphone when you took that call at the train station, the little clock on your computer screen? Be specific, imagine the moment, the place, and the time.
  • Fill the space between now and then: Once you have your fixture time, try to recall all the things you did and places you went after that right up until now. This should give you a feeling of how much time has passed.
  • Relax and listen: Or rather watch what time appears before your inner eye. First think of the hour, then of the minutes. If it helps, you can close your eyes a bit. Let your subconscious mind do the work. No magic here, just instincts at work.
  • No cutting corners: When people are asked for the time, they usually simplify and round up to the next full five or even the next full 15 minutes. Don’t do that when you are guessing the time. Once you have your time, stick to it. Even if it is not an even number (not in the mathematical sense) like 1:43 or 4:12. Don’t favor 0, 15, 30, and 45 only because they happen to be marked on every clock. This also has the nice psychological side effect of making your guess seem more credible, but more on that later.
  • Don’t second guess: Again, once you have your time, stick to it. The first guess is usually the best. You can, however, do a cross-check to see if all the activities you recalled in step 2 would actually be possible in the time that has passed between your fixture time and now. If you realize that your time is way off, give it a second try.

If you have always carried a watch, chances are that your natural sense of time is a bit underdeveloped by now. Don’t let this discourage you, just keep practicing. If you get as close as 30 minutes it is a good start. Twenty minutes is actually pretty good and will already be helpful. The real skill is to get as close as five minutes or even up to a perfect match.

Here is one more thing that won’t exactly help you getting the time right, but it will help with the impression that you always guess the time right: use a little psychology. Announce that you are about to tell what time it is without looking at a clock. Then have one of your friends check how close you actually got with your guess. If you are totally off, don’t mention it again. It hapens. However, if you do get close make sure they acknowledge it.

It is like that one lucky guy who won the lottery and now is all over the news. What you don’t get to see is all the other people who bought a ticket, but won nothing. For guessing the time, the odds are more in your favor, but still, by making people remember your hits and ignore your misses, your guesses will appear more credible over time.

Follow these steps, learn how to rely on your natural sense of time and you won’t have to worry about forgetting your watch at home and you can be proud to have reconnected with one of nature’s gifts.

Leave a Comment

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Nicole February 22, 2011, 6:35 pm

    I did a google search for “people who can guess the time” to see if there was anyone out there like my husband. My husband has ALWAYS been able to guess the time. Just now he guessed 6:43… when we pulled up the time… he was exactly right on. I am always amazed, even though he consistently demonstrates this skill. Awesome.

  • josh January 27, 2011, 3:58 am

    I new I wasnt the only one, googled it because i thought i had some super power lol. When people ask me the time or I just guess the time to creep myself out, I can guess the time to the minute almost everytime. typically takes about 5 seconds and the number just pops in my head, its like i have a clock in my brain.

  • Glen Stansberry June 13, 2008, 7:19 pm

    Thanks for contacting me! Unfortunately, I can't take the email until
    Monday the 16th.

    Thanks again!


    Glen Stansberry

  • kllycat June 13, 2008, 7:17 pm

    My husband can do this and it drives me batty. He's usually correct within a minute or two. I usually accuse him of cheating, as a joke, so it was funny to read this post.

  • kllycat June 13, 2008, 3:17 pm

    My husband can do this and it drives me batty. He's usually correct within a minute or two. I usually accuse him of cheating, as a joke, so it was funny to read this post.

  • cl0123 June 5, 2008, 2:55 pm

    Wholeheartedly agree. I used to amuse my girlfriend (who became wife) by the ability to tell time without wearing a watch. The real trick is nothing more than remember the time or fixture I saw last and then guesstimate. I did take interests in darkroom work a long time ago, so that might have been the jedi training I received without realizing it.

  • mandrill May 30, 2008, 3:02 pm

    My wife guesses the time very accurately and always has done. Its scary.

  • Grace Smith May 30, 2008, 2:58 pm

    I have always had a strange skill in being able to tell the time quite accurately without a watch and now i know its not just me! Its one of the reasons i don't wear a watch most of the time.

  • Glen Stansberry May 30, 2008, 1:54 pm

    Definitely! When I was running competitively, I could do the same. Also got really good at guessing distances too.

  • jason May 30, 2008, 1:43 pm

    Or you could start competitively running. I used to be able to judge time in seconds not minutes. Trust me if you really train and really compete you WILL know how many minutes you have been running. After my running career ending my time judgment skills went out the window.