Amanda’s blog post about multitasking reminded me of a class about management styles I had at Georgetown University’s Intensive English Course last Fall. Dr. Sigrun Biesenbach-Lucas, my English professor, assigned us an article from our textbook, and the article explained that, according to Dr. Lindquist, from Western University, there are three types of management styles: monochrons, polychrons, and balanced. While monochrons are good at doing one task at a time, polychrons tend to multitask, and balanced people fit “in the middle”.
There are careers best suited to each type of management style. For instance, monochrons can succeed as book editors, scientific researchers, or doctors while polychrons are likely to be competent lawyers, stock market operators, or journalists, and balanced people may be good as clinical psychologists, teachers, and promoters. So, if you are often rattled by interruptions and overwhelmed by the amount of tasks you have to handle at work, you might be a monochron in the wrong position. On the contrary, if you are bored working in a quiet room with lots of methodical people, just grab you things and move out; you might be a polychron surrounded by monochrons. What a nightmare!
Monochrons are extremely organized, planned, and detailed. For instance, a book editor can spend days over a single book because it’s necessary to read it carefully in order to correct formatting errors, grammar mistakes, and unclear structures that could be improved (would a monochron volunteer to proofread this blog?). Thus, monochrons are likely to succeed in careers that require organization, precision, and concentration.
Polychrons, though, are multitaskers who perform well under pressure. Lawyers, as well as stock market operators and journalists, are polychrons because they’re often switching attention and dealing with lots of information. As a journalist, I guess I’m a polychron. Journalists usually have under their responsibility two or more reports to write in a short period of time. Besides having to meet short deadlines, journalists must read newspapers, news websites, and weekly magazines in order to keep themselves updated and able to find other topics to write about.
Finally balanced people can be either monochrons or polychrons depending on the task. A clinical psychologist must be organized in order to follow the schedule of patients, one at a time. On the other hand, psychologists see several patients during the day and must be able to switch gears when one goes out and the other comes in.
As students, we need to be multitaskers; there’s no choice, whether you’re a full-time student taking three courses, or a part-time student who also works. You might say, “if you’ve planned, you wouldn’t be multitasking”, but this is just not real for most people. Sometimes procrastination, or a break, is needed for us to keep going. Good luck for all as the semester gets to the end and multitasking gets to its peak…