Psychology of a Hot Mess, Part 1

011

Yep, that’s me alright. At least the “mess” part. Oh, the frustration my loved ones and innocent bystanders must deal with when I’m left to my own devices. If you happen upon me while I’m on the move (which is most of the time), I appear to be in control and with purpose. But let me linger for a while, and my true colors come trickling out. I’m a very free spirit who is organizationally challenged.

butterfly free spirit

This dysfunction extends from my time management skills to the clutter that surrounds me. If I try to impose a schedule or list on myself, an even deeper part of me rails wildly against it. I hate structure, but apparently I need it. Sometimes I manage to march to the beat of other people’s drums. Most of the time, however, my best intentions are left trailing behind me as I rush to the next thing, late and flustered again. And the sad part is that no matter how bright things seem to be, my guilt and self-recrimination are ever-present and heavy.

Budda time

Friends, that’s no way to live! Surely I’m not the only one who struggles with the mysteries and frustrations of time, clutter, and accomplishing goals. So, I’m doing things a little differently these days, and perhaps some of my discoveries will help you too!

A New Perception of Time

I recently found a great blog that stopped me in my tracks. The post described people as being either monochronic or polychronic in the way they perceive and manage time. A monochrone is someone who sees time as linear and absolute, is usually very punctual, is more task-oriented than relationship-oriented, and often focuses on only one thing at a time. Monochrones are the splendid folks you see actually getting things done (in an orderly fashion) who are banging their head against the wall as they wait for the polychrone to finish something . . . anything!

late girl

Is this you?

Then there’s the polychrone, someone for whom time is not linear but cyclical and fluid. These people tend to work on many things at once, are easily distracted, and are often late. On the flip side, polychrones are fabulous at handling change, switching gears, and cultivating strong relationships. Time means very different things to these two individuals, and as you can imagine, they often make each other crazy. If you are a polychrone trying to navigate in our monochronic world, there’s hope! Here are a few tips I can’t wait to try out:

1. Stop Thing #1 before beginning Thing #2: This seems like common sense, doesn’t it? But what blew my mind here was that the tardiness of polychronic people is not an inability to begin or arrive at Thing #2 but instead a difficulty with stopping Thing #1. (Stop and ponder that for a second.) While monochrones are adept at finishing a task or ending a social interaction in a timely manner, polychrones find endings uncomfortable and difficult. I always thought I was imagining this, but nope, it’s a real sensation.

SOLUTION: Rehearse your exit plan before arriving anywhere—what you will say to others when it’s time to leave or what time you need to pack up to leave before you absolutely must be gone.

 

2. Plan your schedule backward from appointments: This suggestion is also a new one for me. Polychronic people tend to think of time idealistically instead of realistically, imagining the best-case scenario instead of all the possible pitfalls.

SOLUTION: So, if you have a lunch date at 11:30, figure out going backward how long it will take you to get to the restaurant—if there’s traffic or a wreck. Then, how long will it take you to gather your belongings to get in the car? What about a trip to the restroom to touch up your lipstick? See what I’m getting at? Just a new way of thinking.

 

3. Set audible alarms or reminders to transition to the next task: This suggestion is a good one, though not foolproof. I’ve heard recommendations to set multiple reminders leading up to the time you absolutely, positively must jet, but if you are anything like me, I have so many reminders on my calendar dinging at me that they sometimes melt into white noise.

SOLUTION: Prioritize those noisy alarms and abide by them religiously. Also, if you have a trusted monochrone friend who you are meeting, you might ask him or her to (kindly) text or call you if you are even 2 minutes past time. To avoid possible lateness, you might even ask her to text you when she’s on her way to meet you (a built-in reminder!).

reality check

I’m feeling really excited about trying out these new ideas. I’m sure the people in my life are cautiously hopeful as well. And if you have any solutions that have helped you be an awesome time wizard, I’d love to hear them. In the meantime, good luck and I’ll be clearing out my home office—my husband is still stunned. 🙂 Catch you next week!

Brooke

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: