Entries for month: October 2012

Time Management for Perceiving Types

Let’s face it…nearly all time management techniques seem written for Judging types.
Now some qualitative research of successful college students by Meri Hicks Beckham actually documents what seems to work for Perceiving types in “managing” time and why. 

Beckham notes, “At the core of Judging is the issue of control—control of time, control of space, and control of self….At the core of Perceiving is a sense of freedom—freedom in time, freedom in space, and freedom for self.”  Her findings follow and seem applicable to Perceiving types of all ages:

Regarding conventional academic tasks, most Perceiving students

  •  Read only some of the textbook assignments
  •  Wrote papers close to deadlines with little or no proofreading
  •  Took notes but reviewed them only once when the exam was imminent
  •  Kept urgent things within sight and did not need a clear workspace to study
  •  Preferred comfort for studying, not necessarily desks
  •  Studied just before the deadline
  •  Used time well, but did not manage it


Beckham answers the “why” of Perceiving students’ academic work styles with these six theory elements:

  1. Momentum. Progress is propelled by energy that carries through to completion.  Going back is to be avoided. By waiting to start at the right moment (i.e., when they are ready to begin) and acting decisively, they can ride the wave of energy to completion. An approaching deadline is not stressful, but rather energizing. One time through works best. 
  2. Unconstrained time. Time is seen as available, fluid and usable. When time is running out, the rate of thought and action increases.
  3. Entirety.  Processes are whole, complete and cohesive, not compartmentalized. Efficient work processes are not those that break tasks into small pieces, but rather follow the flow and do all the tasks at one time.  One thing naturally leads to the next and feels complete.  A piece at a time feels incomplete.
  4. Continuity.  Processes are flowing and interruptions of that flow are potentially destructive to both process and product. Breaking into or interrupting the process makes it difficult to regain needed momentum; repeating a step may be seen as a time waster and making the learning boring.  Those interrupted tasks then become work and are not fun or even challenging and may be perceived as empty tasks, lacking purpose.
  5. Awareness. Any objects that might be useful to the task at hand are left in sight to enhance recall, intention, and use of time.  Out of sight objects may be lost or forgotten.  It’s not about a messy desk, but a workspace full of useful information!
  6. Augmentation.  A variety of experiences will augment learning; it’s not just about studying.  Extracurricular activities, friends, social engagements, etc. are all ways to enhance the learning process. 


I occasionally coach Judging types who are upset with Perceiving types ways of getting work done.  In the past, I would always ask, “Is the work done on time, done well, and done legally?”  If the answer to all three questions was “yes,” my advice was to “Then shut your eyes and let them do it in their own ways.”  If the answer was “no” then we began to identify the performance skills needed and work from there. 

I can continue to give that advice, but now I can explain more of the “whys” of how Perceiving types get things done thanks to this research study.  A messy desk does not equate to a messy mind.  A stitch in time doesn’t necessarily save nine!


References

Kummerow, Jean M., Barger, Nancy J. & Kirby, Linda K. (1997). Chapter 3, “Time Management.” WORKTypes. New York: Warner Books (Hatchette). 


Beckham, Meri Hicks.  (2012).  “Building Momentum: The Unconventional Strengths of Perceiving College Students.”  Journal of Psychological Type, 2, 27-40.

 

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Creativity

So what is the creative process of coming up with something novel?  Why do we usually attach that word to Intuitive types and not Sensing types?  Are there different kinds of creativity?

I have long been fascinated by Michael Kirton’s model of creativity. There are two poles to his continuum: adaptive (to do better) and innovative (to do different).

 Adaptive creativity seems like the creativity many Sensing types use.  They can often point to exactly where they started in the creative process – what concrete thing gave them the spark.  It involves taking something that is and changing a feature or two about it to make something new or better.  In marketing terms, it is “extending the line,” such as changing an existing product about “10 degrees.”  The many sizes/shapes/colors of post-it notes come to mind as an example. 

Adaptive creativity is how I ended up writing/editing The Type Indicator for Pets. A client mentioned how much he enjoyed type including typing his family and his pets; I thought it might be fun to write up a little tongue-in-cheek guide in how to do so (the pets, that is, not family members!).  

An ISTJ friend told of organizing track meet events for various charitable fundraisers.  He couldn’t always find people to hold the finish banners for the winners to break through at the end of the race.  His solution came to him one day watching the crowd cheering on the runners when he spotted some cancer survivors wearing their special t-shirts.  He thought they deserved a more prominent role and quickly asked them to hold the banners – they were thrilled.  He also got his announcer friend to call out their names making it even more special. 

At the Thomas Edison Museum in Florida, you can see the many, many attempts to find the right filament for the light bulb.  Edison said, “Creativity is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.” He is seen as a quintessential adaptor.

Innovative creativity is that idea that comes out of nowhere – the “light bulb” idea so to speak.  It can be a “180” degree turnabout of the topic at hand, at times.  By the way, because the symbol of the light bulb is associated with creativity, apparently having it present actually encourages creativity. 

Innovative creativity likely comes from accessing Intuition.  It may come from an association or “reading between the lines” and cannot always be linked to the concrete of what is at hand or literally in the hand!  Einstein’s theories of relativity quickly come to mind with this kind of creativity.  He is purported to have had a sign hanging in his office, “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”

Innovators and Intuitives are often searching for what is new and different.  Doing something the same way is unmotivating, and they are more likely to leave an organization if their ideas and innovations are not valued. 

Just as we acknowledge and value two ways of Perception – Sensing and Intuition – we can acknowledge and value two ways of creativity.  We need both in this complex world of ours!


NOTE: Damian Killen and Gareth Williams expand on this topic even more with their Introduction to Type® and Innovation. They provide portraits of how all 16 types innovate. 

 

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Blessing or Curse?

They say that Js spend as much time preparing for a task as they do on the task itself. I spend more. This summer, I realized that for every week that I went on vacation, or entertained relatives, I spent about two weeks preparing for it. And when I say preparing, I mostly mean worrying. I tried to anticipate every need my family would have on vacation, and every need my guests would have when they came.

It’s hard work being a planner, because you’re focused on what can go wrong, and trying to avoid it. It can cast a cloud over those days before the big events in your life. I wish I could only plan so much and then let it go, but it’s hard to know when I’ve planned enough. I keep remembering something I hadn’t thought of, and of course, I have memories of all of those other events where no matter how hard I planned, something went wrong anyway. 

I look at my ESFP friend, who always seems carefree and cheerful, and deals with everything as it comes up, and not a minute sooner, and sometimes I wish I could be more like her. She just came over the other day with a big box of invitations to her daughter’s wedding. She had asked friends and relatives to help her send them out, and we were making a party out of it. I thought, what a nice way to do a boring, difficult job -  to bring all of these people together and turn it into something fun. And with her smiling, happy personality, everyone looks forward to an evening with her. 
   
After a few minutes, however, it became clear that she had not spent much time in preparation for this. We had a total of 14 separate tasks that needed to be done for each invitation, (no, really, it’s true) and she had not thought ahead as to how she would organize people and materials. It became a case of, “Do it first, think about how to do it right, then do it over again.” And with six people all talking and trying to be helpful, I often had to go to a “Zen place” in my head to keep my outer calm.

What should have taken one evening, ended up taking a whole week to finish, with everyone doing separate jobs at home and my friend driving all around the city trying to bring it all together. In the end, people were annoyed at her for the extra work she caused, and her daughter wasn’t speaking to her because so many of the invitations didn’t go out right.   

I was thinking about what I had learned from all that, and I realized that I’m stupid to envy people who don’t do much worrying beforehand. Life will take its tax from us when we try to increase our income of happiness, whether we pay by quietly worrying beforehand or, like my friend, running around trying to repair damage afterwards. In the end, we all have to pay.

What I really wish is that I could have my friend’s always cheerful personality, but keep my ability to plan and organize. Then I would be perfect. That’s probably never going to happen, but what has happened is that I have a new attitude about my tendency to worry. I now think of it as part of my charm.

 

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