Time Management/Organizational Styles

Polychronic/Monochronic Organizers

 Are you familiar with polychronic and monochronic organizational styles or high context/low context communication? These styles are culturally based and learning about them may serve to help us better relate to those we live and work with.  The following is a link to one of the most concise articles I’ve found on this…


As for the polychronic organizer the book “A Perfect Mess” may shed some light on why many people (actually 2/3’s of us) organize the way we do.  If you take time to look into this, I encourage you reflect on those students and colleagues who may drive you crazy with their seeming lack of order which is anything but.



On how culture affects communication…


Comparative Time Orientation Chart…


Monochronic (Linear) Time Orientation Polychronic (Circular)Time Orientation
Views time as an entity to be saved, spent, or lost Views time as fluid, flexible 
Completes one task before starting another Works on multiple tasks before finishing any one
Focuses on the task to be completed within a certain time frame Focuses on and nurtures the relationships represented by the tasks
Separates work from family and social life Views work, family and social life as one
Seeks to maintain rigid appointment schedule Reacts as the day’s events evolve 



Low/High Context Chart…


Low Context Culture High Context Culture
Believes in explicit (literal) communication Utilizes figurative and approximate language
Follows the letter of the law Believes laws can be shaped by circumstances
Keeps job tasks separate from relationships Sees task as a function of the relationship
Uses direct style in writing and speaking Prefers indirect style in writing and speaking
Values individual initiative and decision making Expects decision making within the relationship
Relies on verbal communication Relies on nonverbal communication
Becomes uncomfortable with silence Respects and utilizes silence
Presents facts, statistics and other details Subordinates use of detailed information



Mechanistic/Humanistic View of Employee Chart…

Mechanistic Employee Humanistic Employee
Works for employer in exchange for wage sand benefits Thinks of self as group member with personal ties
Changes jobs if better opportunity arises Remains on the job out of loyalty to “family”
Can be dismissed if not performing job satisfactorily Keeps job even if performance is unsatisfactory
Views self as a commodity Views self as part of a “family

CrossTalk: Communicating in a Multicultural Workplace, Sherron B. Kenton and Deborah Valentine, Prentice-Hall, 1997.

As educators, we are much like the cogs of a wheel creating forward motion.  Diverse organizational styles and communication are needed to meet the diverse needs of our students.  Having like organizational styles and communication is akin to all cogs spinning in the same direction going nowhere.

The dichotomy of the educational system is it touts monochronic values while imposing copious polychronic tasks.  This in itself can cause confusion which produces stress, which in turn detracts from effective teaching and learning much like the wearing down of each cog that is not benefiting from the thrust of its opposite.  Having a better understanding of the above styles can help us all in our interactions with each other.

We all have so much to share…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s