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Time Management and the Myers Briggs

By in Career Blog

Time business concept.

Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.

– Harvey Mackay


Time Management and the Myers Briggs

Each of us has our own way of thinking about, relating to, and using time. It is as if we each live in our own particular time zone, with a consciousness of time that is colored by our individual personality preferences and motivations.

The MBTI (Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator) is one system of understanding our personality that can give us a heightened understanding of how and why we relate to time the way we do.

The MBTI measures our personality based on four sets of paired opposites which describe how we meet and function in the world. Each of us, in our day-to-day life, innately favors one preference, in each of the four sets, over the other.

(E) Extraversion and (I) Introversion – Describe how we get energized.

(S) Sensing and (iN) IntuitingDescribe how we take in information and the types of information we most trust.

(T) Thinking and (F) FeelingDescribe how we make decisions and communicate – from our head or from our heart.

(J) Judging and (P) PerceivingDescribe how we relate to time, planning, and how we prefer to organize our life/work.

Although each of these scales and their interactions influence our personal time zones, the (J) and the (P) preference can strongly impact how we perceive and manage time.


The (J) Judging and (P) Perceiving functions look at the way we prefer to organize our life in relationship to time:

People with a “J” preference are naturally “wired” to live a planned, organized life – and see time as fixed, so they “work now, play later.”

People with “P” preference are more naturally “wired” with a more flexible, spontaneous approach to life – they see time as more elastic and they “play now, work later.”


Neither preference is any better nor worse than the other.


Each type has its own assets and liabilities with slightly more people in the population with a natural preference for Judging, the (J) function.


Each of us will likely find that we possess aspects of both preference opposites, however we all have a preferred side, where we function with the most ease and the least amount of stress.


Below are some descriptions to help you determine which preference describes you best, and tips for working from the strength of your natural preference, developing flexibility in accessing the opposite preference to find more personal balance, effectiveness and working more effectively as you negotiate time zones within yourself and along with others.

Time Management & your Myers Briggs preferences:

Do you prefer a lifestyle that is planned and structured or one that flexible and open to possibilities?

Consider the description sets for the (J) and (P) preferences, below, and see which set describes you the best:

(J) Judging

  • Feel less stress after most decisions are made and finalized
  • See time as fixed and inflexible: work now, play later
  • Being punctual, on-time, is a priority
  • Task oriented
  • Linear in approach – prefer to complete one task/project, before beginning another
  • Feel uneasy without schedules, time frames, plans
  • Prefer to work with clearly identified goals
  • Enjoy finishing projects even more than starting them
  • Find clutter and disorganization gets in the way of concentration and productivity
  • Where paper is concerned, tend to be “filers” vs “pilers”

People with the J require plans, order, structure in their life. It can be stressful for “J‘s” to have to adapt quickly to sudden changes in plans or decisions.

The J‘s preference for decision making can limit them in closing off other options pre-maturely, and can inhibit their capacity to adapt and be spontaneous.

(P) Perceiving

  • Feel less stress when options are open
  • See time as flexible/elastic: play now, work later
  • Go with the “flow”
  • Highly process vs task oriented
  • Prefer to start projects and will often have many “going” at the same time
  • Often multi-task
  • Feel comfortable with less structure and a high degree of flexibility
  • Often will wait until deadlines approach to finish a project – work to the edge of time
  • Postpone making some decisions in order to explore options
  • Where paper is concerned: are “pilers” vs “filers”

People with a preference like to seek and collect information and options before making a decision. Making a “final” decision, that appears to close off options, can be stressful for P’s.

The “P’s” preference for keeping options open, can result in their missing opportunities altogether as a result of not finalizing and acting on a choice.

When J’s and P’s work on projects together, time management issues can become a source of stress and even conflict.

J‘s will often push for conclusions, decisions and action. Schedules, systems and step-by-step planning with regular deadlines are the preferred approach.

P‘s prefer to jump right in and explore options and possibilities. Detailed plans seem confining and irrelevant in an ever-changing and dynamic world.

Through understanding your preference and approach to time and by appreciating others with the opposite preference, it is possible to benefit from each other’s style.

When negotiating time, J‘s can benefit from the P’s flexibility and capacity to explore options before pushing forward with a plan or decision. P‘s can benefit from the J’s efficiency, organization and follow through.

Whatever your preference, remember that the only thing we can truly manage, is ourself. Enhanced self awareness offers us the information we need to maximize our potential and capacity to grow and be our very best self, in life and work.


Posted by: Susan Jewkes Allen, MSW, GCDF

San Francisco Bay Area Career Counselor, Career Coach at Life + Work