Time Management and Your Personality

What type of time management personality are you?

two firefighters spraying a fire
••• Image (c) Moment / Getty Images

Want to learn how to better manage time? All we can truly manage is our own behavior, so the key to time management is knowing ourselves.

For many of us, this is a big enough challenge in itself. While we claim that effective time management is a top priority, our actions don't always match our stated desires. Depending on your personality, you probably tend to gravitate toward certain behaviors that sabotage your attempts at time management. But you may not be aware of your personality and tendencies.

Which of the following time management "types" are you? This exercise is meant to be fun, but it may provide you with some clues for how you can more effectively use your time. By modifying your behavior, you can manage time better and accomplish more.

The Fireman or Woman

For you, every event is a crisis. You're so busy putting out fires that you have no time to deal with anything else—especially boring, mundane things such as time management. Tasks pile up around you while you rush from fire to fire all day (usually with a double espresso in hand). Like most firemen/women, you have a Type A personality—an adrenaline junkie who is constantly in panic mode and thrives on stress. Think you might be a fireman/woman? Take the Type A Personality Quiz.

Typically seen: Running to a car (which is probably illegally parked) with a smartphone glued to one ear.

Solution: Pull back and start accomplishing what you need to get done instead of rushing from crisis to crisis. Start each day with daily planning. Setting your daily agenda and prioritizing your tasks of the day will keep you on track.

The Overcommitter

Your problem is you can't say "No." You have trouble setting boundaries on your behavior, or if you're a boss, setting boundaries on the behavior of others who report to you. All anyone has to do is ask, and you'll chair another committee, take on another project, or organize yet another community event. You're so busy you don't even have time to write down all the things you do. Somehow you are unable to factor all your external commitments plus the time needed for eating, sleeping, family relationships, exercise, and hobbies into a normal 24-hour day.

Typically seen: Rushing from work to chair the Parent-Teacher Association meeting.

Solution: Understand that work-life balance is essential for your well-being. Learn to say "No" and start doing it. You can even learn to say "No" to your boss.

The Aquarian

You are generally popular with your co-workers and have an admirable zest for life. But there is such a thing as being too laid back, especially when it starts interfering with your ability to finish tasks or return phone calls. Having a constant circle of chatting co-workers around your cubicle is not conducive to task management and productivity. Getting to things when you get to them isn't time management; it's task avoidance.

Typically seen: Hanging out with feet on the desk, discussing last night's football game.

Solution: First, remind yourself why you're doing what you're doing. If you want to keep doing it, up your game by working on maintaining your motivation. Learn to recognize when you're procrastinating, so you can get yourself on task.

The Chatty Cathy 

Born to socialize, you have astounding oral communication skills and can't resist exercising them at every opportunity. You know everyone in the office, and all of your co-workers have been fully apprised of your medical problems, family history, and what you had for dinner yesterday. Every interaction becomes a long drawn-out conversation, especially if there's an unpleasant task dawning that you'd like to put off.

Typically seen: Talking to someone in person while simultaneously texting on a cell phone.

Solution: Start each day with a session of daily planning to focus yourself on work and get your daily tasks organized. Remind yourself that your work and social life are different spheres and that work comes first. (You may have to do this throughout the day if you're an extremely social person.) Try to limit your social interactions until the work you've prioritized for the day is done.

The Perfectionist 

You have a compulsion to cross all the "t's" and dot all the "i's," preferably with elaborate whorls and curlicues. Exactitude is your watchword, and you feel that no rushed job can be a good job. Finishing tasks to your satisfaction is such a problem you need more time zones, not just more time.

Typically seen: Hunched over latest project.

Solution: First, understand that perfectionism is not a bad thing in itself. But it's an unhealthy perfectionism that causes you to aim for high standards at the expense of everything else and creates strong anxiety and unhappiness. Explore ways to overcome your need for absolute perfection, and seek professional help if necessary.

Do Any of These Describe You?

Hopefully, none of these time management personality profiles hits too close to home. But perhaps these descriptions will provoke some thought about the different ways we manage or mismanage time, as well as some clues about how we might change our behaviors to make our time-management efforts more successful.