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Time management - Polychronic time

Polychronic time


This view of time is not so easily recognised by most. It is characterised by spur of the moment decisions based upon intuition, creativity, less adherence to rigid rules.


Polychronic time followers are not comfortable at repetitive tasks that are easy to define within boundaries. They benefit from the personal contact that tasks may produce. Their tasks are perhaps less easy to define and measure, for example, ‘what is the best design for the bedroom?’

To work well they benefit from people contact. They tend to be in professions where monochronic time is not so important.

Jobs might be in the arts, marketing, teaching etc.


Many cultures value human contact, patience and honesty above speed. Contact with Asian, Arabic, Japanese and other cultures may require a rethink when considering business and personal dealings. Their approach to tasks will tend to conflict with yours if, like many Northern European countries and the USA, you take a monochronic view on matters.


The polychronic person will use plans but is quite happy to be flexible in their approach to achieve the desired goal. They may flit from project to project as the mood takes them gaining inspiration from one project to utilise on the other.

Flexibility is a useful trait of the polychronic person.


Whilst the polychronic person will recognise the need for plans they will generally balance multiple tasks and modify plans accordingly.
They are not usually held up for the need for excessive amounts of information. Whilst the task will be important they will hold greater store in the interpersonal relationships that make them work.

Traditionally, women may be forced to be polychronic with the pressures of organising family life.
Business tends to force all persons into a monochronic format based o deadlines and punctuality.


If you have a monochronic personality

It is likely that meetings with polychronic persons will overrun without some control. You may need to wrap up the meeting in a polite manner or rearrange to a later date.
You may wish to refer to a time limit due to other commitments which will help to confine the discussion to a reasonable time boundary. You may need to manage the expectations of a polychronic person by either better defining the requirements or managing other items differently allowing more time for dealing with the requirements of the polychronic person.


The problem with approaching tasks in either a monochronic or polychronic format is that you may miss the benefits of the other.
For example, what may appear to be an untidy desk top to one is an easy retrieval system to another. The less organised person will still work on one task at a time but flit from one project to another quite effortlessly as that person can find the relevant files easily.

The state of tidiness of your desk top is not a reflection of intellect. Really, it becomes a problem only if you are naturally monochronic and the disorder is a symptom of stress and a failure to use Time Management principles.

Often when polychronic people flit from one task to another and return to them they are re-galvanised with fresh ideas and impetus. The completed item may well benefit from this approach.

Non - PRINCE2 information