How Do You Manage Your Time?


How Do You Manage Your Time? 

February 14, 2020

I am going to continue the theme from last month on productivity by asking, “How do you manage your time? 

One might take this question in many directions – it is a deep and complex question. For now, my focus is quite specific and will use the MBTI® Personality Type framework.  We will focus on the 4th letter in the 4-Letter Personality Type, the “J” or “P” preference. 

There is often some confusion and misinterpretation about this 4th letter – our preference for how we organize our life and manage our time – where the “J” is Judging, and the “P” is Perceiving. A note of caution: “J” does not mean judgment and “P” does not mean perception. There are no right or wrong, good or bad preferences in this framework. Rather, we all go about organizing our life and managing our time differently. The population is split about 50/50 on the “J” and “P” preference.  So, I tend to use the simple letter, "J" or "P", in order assure the focus is on the over-riding concept -- how we prioritize and organize our outer life.  

One of my goals is to dispel the presumption there is any necessary link between “Js” and “Ps” with respect to their productivity and effectiveness. In my opinion, both “Js” and “Ps” can be equally productive or effective. It is just that we go about getting from here to there very differently. And, it is very easy to for us to slip into using judgmental language because of our preference. For example, “Js” may have a tendency to label “Ps” as procrastinators. Likewise. “Ps” may have a tendency to label “Js” as anal. WRONG!  

Ten years ago, I signed up to re-take my MBTI® Step II Profile with David Prudhomme, the co-author and co-creator of From Stressed to Best™ with Ruth Schneider. I am going to share my personal profile from that lesson because it helps illustrate what I learned -- what we all can learn -- when we take a deep dive into understanding how we organize our life and manage our time.   

If you do not know or perhaps have forgotten your 4-Letter Personality Type, please click on this link to take our Quick Self Assessment Questionnaire.  

At the outset it is important to acknowledge and attribute the sources for this analysis. The following discussion and analytics draw from my MBTI® Step IIInterpretive Report by Naomi Quenk, PhD., and Jean M. Kummerow, PhD., as interpreted by Ruth Schneider and David Prudhomme, co-creators of From Stressed to Best. In addition, the commentary borrows from the From Stressed to Best "Complete Interpretive Report for Understanding All 16 Personality Types for use with the MBTI ® Step II Profile." As a Certified Stress  Reduction Specialist and an Affiliate of From Stressed to Best and as a Certified MBTI® Administrator, this is exactly the material I use in my work with clients.  

When we drill down into the “J’ and “P” preference, there are 5 facets:  

  1. How you prefer to organize your work.
  2. How you think of time.
  3. How you deal with deadlines.
  4. How you structure your daily activities.
  5. How you sequence smaller tasks to finish larger ones.  

I am definitely a “J”. However, I have crosscurrents on 2 out of the 5 facets. This is a great example of why we are all so different – i.e., while there are 16 unique 4-Letter Personality Types, there are an even greater number of variations within each Personality Type.   

How you prefer to organize your work:

  • “Js” tend to be Systematic: They enjoy order, structure, predictability. They like to be efficient.
  • “Ps” tend to be Casual. They like to go with the flow and are flexible. They enjoy doing a variety of things and can easily stop in the middle and switch to do something else.

On the MBTI Step II Profile, I score as moderately Casual – which is a definite cross-current for a “J”. Reflect for a moment how someone who is Casual can be frustrating to someone who is very Systematic. Can you hear a person saying, “They can’t seem to focus!”  Well, I do understand how to focus -- and I also like to have fun and find inspiration while I work.  

How you think about time:

  • “Js” tend to be Planful: They think of time as something that is managed to produce results – time is a valuable commodity to be managed and spent wisely. They tend to look towards the future and determine how their tasks can get them from here to there.
  • “Ps” tend to be Open-ended: They tend to think of time in the Now and look at the present moment as an opportunity to be inspired and do what is most important in the moment. They enjoy staying flexible and not being tied down to too many commitments in the future.  

I am a moderately strong, Planful. I really don’t like surprises and interruptions that throw me off track. At the same time, I have come to appreciate friends and family who are definitely Open-ended. I can see they have an instinctive knack to be in the Now – and enjoy the present moment.  

How you deal with deadlines:

  • “Js” tend to be Early Starting: “Js” tend to begin projects immediately, they like to have plenty of time to complete the project and do not like to “be under the gun.” They can be called anal.
  • “Ps” tend to be pressure prompted: They like to think about projects before they actually get started. They like to work on the project when they are inspired and tend to get things done “just in time.” They can be called procrastinators.  

I am in the middle on this facet with a slight preference for Early Starting. I have come to learn that when I force something just for the sake of getting started, I often circle back and find myself restarting with a different approach after I have had the time to reflect and find inspiration. At the same time, it is uncomfortable – yes, stressful, when as a result of getting a late start, I am “under the gun.” So here I am at 4 AM, writing this Blog. Lol. Managing stress is a daily challenge.  

How you structure your daily activities:

  • “Js” tend to be Scheduled: They like to know what they are going to do each day and plan out their day, week and month so they can get everything accomplished on time. They enjoy making lists and checking things off the list.
  • “Ps” tend to be Spontaneous: They like to experience whatever happens to come up and they love surprises! They may feel restricted if they have too many time commitments or procedures to follow.  

I am Scheduled – I max out on this score. This may be one reason that people tend to see me as “busy” and highly productive. At the same time, I often look at my friends and family who are spontaneous and think – “Gee they are having all the fun!”  

How you sequence smaller tasks to finish larger ones:

  • “Js” tend to be methodical: They like to break big jobs into smaller pieces and love detailed plans in order to monitor progress.
  • “Ps” tend to be Emergent: They like to plunge in and figure things out as they go. They enjoy being flexible in their approach and remaining open to new ideas.  

I am right in the middle on this polarity from Methodical to Emergent. This means I do a little bit of both. I know this means my style can be confusing to associates – and I know I can confuse myself! It is somewhat paradoxical to be very Scheduled and in the middle between Methodical and Emergent. Indeed, our crosscurrents can be a source of inner stress.  

My key take-aways:

  • Whether you are a “J” or a “P” may have little to do with your productivity or effectiveness. It simply shows that there are many paths to get from here to there. Indeed. “Ps” can tend to stress out “Js” who are never quite sure deadlines will be met. And “Ps” tend to get frustrated with highly scheduled “Js” who don’t seem to know how to relax a bit and have fun.
  • I love how “Ps” can be in the NOW, are spontaneous and embrace surprises.
  • I love how “Js” can be so reliable and predictable in getting things done – ahead of schedule.
  • Most of the quotes about prioritization and how to be organized are written by “Js” -- just my educated guess. And, why try to hammer a square hole into a round peg? I hope that makes the 50% of the population who are “Ps” happier.
  • My last Blog “My Top 5 Productivity Breakthroughs” was carefully constructed to have something which would naturally fit for both “Js” and “Ps” Given my crosscurrents, I really see the different styles.    

My final thoughts: Let us broaden our perspective and appreciation of all the beautiful differences in how people manage their time. Let us see the value in our different approaches and be more tolerant and patient. 

With heartfelt gratitude,    


 May you be happy now and always, Alison


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