Whereas objective time focuses on the clock and calendar as a measure of time external to individuals, subjective time brings in the internal, personal experience of time.
In this way, subjective time reflects how people perceive, interpret, and mentally travel through time, using memories and forecasts to make sense of the present.
There is no objective time without a subjective interpretation of it.
Deadlines are an example of a subjective interpretation of objective time. Many deadlines we perceive as “real” are anything but. Instead, deadlines are socially constructed dates to plan one’s work and synchronize with others.
Working by event-time prioritizes the work over the schedule (e.g., starting work when ready and stopping when one needs a break).
Viewing work tasks as natural events not only emphasizes effectiveness over efficiency, it also increases perceptions of control over time and greater enjoyment of the task.
People often relive past experiences or “pre-live” future events, looking for stories that make sense of these experiences in the present moment.
Such meaning cannot be found in objective time, which portrays time as constant and immutable. If all units of time are equivalent, then one time period means no more or less than any other. In contrast, the meaning of subjective time derives from spending one’s hours and days on purposeful and significant activities.
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