Mental Calendars: How Do You See Time?
Jim and I had a conversation recently about how we visualize calendars in our minds. (Stimulating, huh? If you’re interested in sharing in the fun, contact me and we can meet up for a bite to eat sometime.) It turns out, as one might suspect, we see things completely differently. Whereas Jim’s mental calendar is a straight continuous line, mine is cyclical. Since my drawing skills are not the greatest, I’ll do my best to describe what I see. It’s most easily compared to a rectangle with rounded edges with January beginning on the left side. The dates continue across the top of the rectangle until June, when they begin to curve clockwise along the opposite end of the rectangle through August. Then September, October, and November move along the bottom of the rectangle and December connects back to January.
I believe school breaks and my July birthday had somewhat of an influence on the creation of my mental calendar, as I have come to think of the right side of the rectangle as more drawn out than the left side (summer vs. winter break).
I found this article on calendars.com that explores other variations of mental calendars. Mine most closely resembles Mark Jaquith’s example, with one slight difference. My December and January connect. Also, I am always looking at the calendar as a whole and do not visualize myself on the months’ placeholders, unlike Jaquith, as he describes in his article.
When I think of “now” in a month-to-month sense, I visualize myself as standing on the appropriate month on that layout. If I think about another month, I visualize myself looking at the other month’s placeholder. So when I look at September from April, I’m standing on April, facing south.
This is becoming one of my favorite get-to-know-you questions. I have no doubt that the different views affect how an individual plans his/her time.
For what it’s worth, my dad is the only other person I’ve come across so far who sees the calendar as cyclical.
What about you? When you’re planning into the future, how does the year look in your mind? Have you ever given any thought to this? Please share your thoughts in the comments.