The clock in our bedroom sits on my wife’s nightstand. Because of this she has control over it and it is purposely set incorrectly. I’m not sure how far off it is, but I’d guess that it is 10 to 15 minutes fast. At least I think it is set incorrectly. She certainly thinks it is set properly and would like to set all the clocks in the house the same way. Unfortunately for her she can’t set the time on her cell phone. In my mind the cell phone has it right. It tells the correct time. But my wife apparently doesn’t want to know what time it is when she looks at a clock. What she wants is a clock that will scare her into thinking that she’s late and motivate her to move faster.

The obvious problem with this is that she knows exactly how fast the clock is. So she can compensate. I realize this morning that I because I don’t know how fast it is I can’t compensate and the clock serves its purpose of instilling fear much better when I look at it than when she looks at it.

Thus I propose the fear clock! This would be a clock that you initially set to the correct time. From then on it is always fast, but you never know by how much. There should probably be some limits. It could be off by a single minute or off by 20. This could vary constantly during the day. One possible algorithm to accomplish this would be:

  1. Randomly pick the number of minutes to be off by the “goal offset”.
  2. Calculate the difference between the goal offset and the current offset.
  3. Calculate how many seconds to add or remove from each minute for the next hour to reach the goal offset.
  4. Once the goal offset is reached return to step 1.

This would really motivate people. They’d wake up and the clock would say 6:15 am and they wouldn’t know if it was 6:14 or 5:55. In order to ensure that they’d be on time they’d have to assume that it is in fact 6:14 and really move.

Such a clock would effectively accomplish the goal that my wife’s method aims for but fails at due to her own knowledge of the offset.

I’ve been asked to note that my wife gets up early more often than I do.  I have not been asked to also add that she also gets to sleep in more often as well.