Time Management for Perceiving Types

October 2012. Originally copyrighted and posted in "Type for Life" by the Center for the Applications of Psychological Type, Gainesville, FL. Used with permission.

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:

  • 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.
  • Unconstrained time. Time is seen as available, fluid and usable. When time is running out, the rate of thought and action increases.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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!


  • 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.