How to… be a clock-watcher

1.    The expert clock-watcher doesn’t just rely on any old clock on the wall of the office/school/college, etc. Who knows when it was last synchronised with Greenwich Mean Time? No, any clock-watcher worth his salt relies only on his own perfectly synced watch (checked once a week for perfect time and its batteries changed at the merest hint that it’s losing even a second or two). After all, absolute accuracy is essential to ensure you’re prepared to bolt at 4.59.59 p.m. on the nose.

2.    There’s a lot more to clock-watching than just the passive tracking of the time – preparation is key. You must work with single-minded devotion towards being ready to leave as the clock strikes that all-important hour – paperwork neatly put away (whether complete or not; out of sight is out of mind), your bag packed and ready to be slung over the shoulder at a moment’s notice, and finger poised on the shutdown button of your computer (it has to be pressed at that final instant and not a moment before; otherwise you just seem lazy).

3.    Such clockwork-like precision can only be achieved by organising your entire workday down to the last minute, and then sticking to the plan with complete ruthlessness. Regular mortals complain about delayed meetings/classes and longwinded colleagues/professors; nothing short of a raging tornado outside is going to stop a clock-watcher from keeping that deadline. People who get in your way do so at their own risk – you’ll just have to mow them down on your way to the exit gate (apologies can wait until 9 a.m. tomorrow).

4.    An important part of clock-watching is learning to carefully mask the actual act of, well, watching the clock. Only a wet-behind-the-ears newbie makes the mistake of obviously staring down at his watch dial (or cell phone) repeatedly (and longingly) in the middle of the boss’s speech. Very gauche and a big no-no. A master of the art knows that the watch glance must happen within a split second, in the middle of a perfectly innocent action such as rearranging your hair or opening a folder.

5.    And finally, the experienced clock-watcher never reveals just how aware of the time he is. If someone asks for the time, an instant response of “Two fifty three p.m. (and 45 seconds)” is a bad idea. Instead, make an elaborate show of blinking vaguely, frowning, checking the clock / wristwatch / cell phone etc. and answer off-handedly, “Around 3-ish?”. Then you can go back to working studiously – and watching the clock, of course.

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