Sunday, July 1, 2012

Chronemics? I’m okay with that! – This is long post so hang with it.

I was checking into some of my favorite blogs and hit upon a topic in ah, maybe Luann Udell, or possibly Nina Bagleys.  I’m just not sure because when I saw the word polycron used to describe their functional behavior in relation to others I just had to look it up.  It’s not a bad word – it’s downright descriptive of me too.  Reading it made me feel like Colonel Klink of Hogan's Heros, “Very interesting” (using my best German accent here!)

It comes from the study of Chronemics.   Okay Sharon – so what is that?  Here you go (according to the Wikipedia:

“Chronemics is the study of the use of time in nonverbal communication. The way that an individual would perceive and value time, structure our time and react to time is a powerful communication tool, and helps set the stage for the communication process. Across cultures, time perception plays a large role in the nonverbal communication process. Time perceptions include punctuality, willingness to wait, and interactions. The use of time can affect lifestyles, daily agendas, speed of speech, movements and how long people are willing to listen.

Cultures are usually put into two time system categories: monochronic and polychronic.”

Still clear as mud?  Let’s see if we can magnify the concept  – uh, more info:

“The terms monochron and polychron have to do with our time sense: how we perceive and manage time. To a polychron, time is continuous, with no particular structure. Polychrons see time as a never-ending river, flowing from the infinite past, through the present, into the infinite future.


In the workplace, polychrons prefer to keep their time unstructured, changing from one activity to another as the mood takes them. Although polychrons can meet deadlines, they need to do so in their own way. A polychron does not want detailed plans imposed upon him, nor does he want to make his own detailed plans. Polychrons prefer to work as they see fit without a strict schedule, following their internal mental processes from one minute to the next.

Monochrons see time as being divided into fixed elements that can be organized, quantified and scheduled. Monochrons relate to time differently: to them, time is discrete, not continuous. Monochrons see time as being divided into fixed elements — seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, and so on — temporal blocks that can be organized, quantified and scheduled. Monochrons love to plan in detail, making lists, keeping track of their activities, and organizing their time into a daily routine.

Monochrons prefer to do one thing at a time, working on a task until it is finished, then, and only then, moving on to the next task. To a monochron, switching back and forth from one activity to another is not only wasteful and distracting, it is uncomfortable.

Polychrons are different. They love to work on more than one thing at a time. To a polychron, switching from one activity to another is both stimulating and productive and, hence, the most desirable way to work.

Can you see yourself in here somewhere?”

I’m a polychron married to a monochron.  No wonder our working habits could cause us to butt heads.  I envy how he could take on a project and go from front to back until it was complete.  I have lots of friends like that too.  Yikes, I don’t even clean the house like that.  I sort and clean in wide swatches which eventually come together.  He takes on one room at a time.

As far as work habits go I could use a little less polychron behavior – a whole lot less procrastination – and I need a generous dose of “Get Shit Done” from 13 Habits post.  Stop talking about it and start working!!

4 comments:

Beadwright said...

Great post.
Nicole/Beadwright

Jean A. Wells said...

This was a great post. As for the comparison as to how you and your husband differ in cleaning the house. Well, me and my husband differ in that too -- I do, he doesn't!

Sharon Driscoll said...

Thanks guys! Jean - you crack me up.

angelinabeadalina said...

Luckily, the world needs both,right? Otherwise, the monochrons would've packed me up ever so neatly and shipped me off to the North Pole to work as an elf...oh, wait, I guess Santa and the elves have to be monochrons, too, what with all that big "Eve" deadline to creating their toys. Hmmm...guess I'd better go try to make the swathes connect, or something like that :)