The Art of Time Management and Personality Types

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once.” – Albert Einstein

Whether you consider Einstein’s comment tongue-in-cheek, profound, or both, time can be a problem. In human life, it takes on a finite quality which demands that it be managed or squandered. That’s not to say that a full schedule is everything. A well-planned vacation can be the most productive thing a person can do looking at it with the long view in mind. Nonetheless, diligent time management can make the difference between success, mediocrity and failure. Attention to time can mean either living effectively or burning out. And so we take our calendars and clocks seriously.

But who among the personality types thinks they have the best handle on time? To find out, we asked respondents to affirm or deny the statement: “You have good time management skills.”

Not surprisingly, the traits that most separate those who feel they are good at time management from those who don’t are the Judging and Prospecting traits (Judging 80.03% to Prospecting 40.64%). Bringing order and managing things interests those with the Judging trait. It’s no surprise that time is one of the things they manage. Individuals who prefer the Prospecting trait are more flexible and relaxed with nonconformist tendencies. That would describe someone who is less likely to lean toward setting a firm schedule or keeping their eye on the clock.

The second most significant trait was the practical Observant trait (Observant 73.29% to Intuitive 50.43%). Intuitive personality types are usually too busy imagining the future or looking for something deeper than is practical and obvious. We don’t necessarily think of Intuitive individuals as those who have their feet firmly planted on the pragmatic ground. They can sometimes display absent-minded tendencies. On the other hand, personality types with the Observant trait are creatures of habit with a strong ability to focus. It’s easy to cast them as individuals who are not only aware of time, but who actively manage it.

We distinguish the Sentinels from other roles by the presence of both the Observant and Judging traits in their profiles. This makes these personality types the most likely candidates to be best time managers. Our poll confirms that by placing their group at the top of those who say they have good time management skills, with 84.48% of Sentinels agreeing with the statement. Assertive Executives (ESTJ-A) have the highest percentage (89.74%) of those endorsing the statement among the individual types.

The other three groups’ percentages fall within single digits of one another (Analysts – 51.66%, Diplomats – 49.88%, and Explorers – 51.61%), and all are significantly lower than the Sentinels’. The Turbulent Logician (INTP-T) is the type with the lowest percentage (27.33%) of respondents who feel they are good time managers. Notice how this personality type is Introverted, Intuitive, Prospecting, and Turbulent – all traits that were the weaker in their pair for endorsing the statement. While Logicians have a lot going for them, a sense that they are good at time management is not likely to be one those things.

Extraverted (64.60%) and Assertive (69.79%) personality types also see themselves as better time managers than those who are Introverted (55.25%) and Turbulent (52.77%). This is clearly visible in the graph below, where we show all four type strategies. Types falling under the People Mastery strategy (Extraverted and Assertive individuals) are confident and trust their skills, and this may influence their seeing themselves as good time managers. 71.38% of these types answered the question positively. In comparison, only 49.42% of individuals embracing the Constant Improvement strategy (Introverted and Turbulent types) said so.

Since this is a self-assessment, future studies might want to separate self-image from objective skills to find out if these results are about confidence or time management abilities. Are People Mastery types better with time or do they just consider themselves so? It could also be that their confidence makes these personality types less tentative and more outgoing when dealing with time and scheduling. Further study is warranted.

While this poll suggests that certain personality types and type groups have a stronger feel for their abilities at time management, it doesn’t preclude that the others can learn better time management skills. While they may not display as many of the “natural” traits and tendencies to organize their calendars, it is a learnable skill that they can acquire or improve upon with a little effort.