Rendezvous 11 a.m at the bookshop. Then off to the meeting followed by lunch and finish off at 3.
This was the arrangement with the friend and I had planned for the day in careful detail working backward. I had cancelled all other activities normally scheduled between 10 and 4 and left home at 10 so as to be at the bookshop by 10:45. At 11:10 I get a message from the friend: "on my way. Should be there in 15 minutes." And then she arrives at 11:45 telling me that she thought she'd have a haircut before coming and got delayed at the parlour. We are already 15 minutes late for the meeting and we still had a 30 minute drive to the venue of the meeting. So more sms es and I am upset because I don't like to be late anywhere but friend assures me "relax, it is just 30 mins delay ya, nobody minds it. Happens all the time." And by the time we arrive for lunch after the meeting it is already 2:30 and at 3:30 we are still talking about ordering dessert. Meantime I find friend sms ing and ask her if she has other programs for the day. "yes" she smiles. She is attending an exhibition at 4 and catching a movie in the evening. I tell her "we might still be here at 4." She says, "yeah, that is why I am messaging the guy to say I will be there a bit late!"

Here I am cancelling everything for the day for making it on time for one meeting and lunch. I hurry through my morning, avoiding everything that could possibly delay me (including washing my hair or applying eyeliner or checking my emails) and arrive 15 minutes early for the appointment only to be sms ed and made to wait an hour. The friend is actually getting more out of the day by packing in an unscheduled haircut in the extra 45 minutes she gained by delaying the appointment. On an average day, I find that she manages to get a lot more done than I do. Where I schedule 4 things for a day allowing enough time between the activities so as to make sure I make it on time, she schedules 6 or 7 things so closely and still manages most of it with delays everywhere. But isn't she gaining this extra time by taking away from others' time? For example, Why did I have to waste 1 hour of my day because she was having a haircut?

I can see that she gets more out of the day with this overscheduling of hers- somehow juggling everything with a few minutes' delay everywhere. But I wonder why it is necessary? Isn't rest an integral part of the day's schedule too if you are to enjoy all the activities? I think this desire to want to do all of them is also the result of the inability or unwillingness to prioritise and decide what is essential and what is not. Why not have it all rather than having to give up something?
I know someone who starts her day at 5 a.m on weekends and hops from one activity to another all through her weekend and then goes every few months to a meditation camp in order to de-stress. I asked her why she could not use one day of the weekend to rest and sort herself out in order to meet the stress of the week ahead. She looked at me like it is an alien concept in an unbelieving way: "you are asking me to stay at home and do nothing and mope around? It is so pathetic ya."
I don't know. What seems pathetic to me is this need to constantly run from one thing to another in order to escape being alone with oneself. Or may be I am just too contented with my quiet life to see what I am missing out on. Or may be I AM pathetic!

All I know is that my time is as important to me as yours is to you, even if I may do nothing with it. Overschedule yourself by all means but if your 24 hours isn't enough for you don't borrow mine - my time is too precious to be spent dealing with your delays. I can think of other important things to do in that one hour - a nap for example!

Ok rant over . Now are you wondering about the title of this post? Well,it makes me feel so much better to know that I may not be a freak but a monochron. Hey I said Mono chron NOT a moron, ok?! Now who is a monochron?
" Monochrons prefer to do one thing at a time, working on a task until it is finished, then, and only then, moving on to the next task. To a monochron, switching back and forth from one activity to another is not only wasteful and distracting, it is uncomfortable.
Polychrons are different. They love to work on more than one thing at a time. To a polychron, switching from one activity to another is both stimulating and productive and, hence, the most desirable way to work."

read more here.
44 Responses
  1. B o o Says:

    A post after my own heart! Thanks to you I realized I am totally a Monochron.
    And the words - "All I know is that my time is as important to me as yours is to you, even if I may do nothing with it." - Bulls eye! Im going to print them in a T shirt and wear it ALL the time! :)

  2. B o o Says:

    And one more thing. As soon as I tell friends that I planned to be at home at 4 and they are delaying me, they are like "so what are you going to do at home at 4?" Well hullo! Im going to put my feet up on the chair and write about you in my blog! So can I go now?

  3. Suku Says:

    I am definitely a polychron!!! this was quite interesting. Thank you, fact will porbably share some of this at my next time management class, if thats OK with you.

  4. Usha Says:

    b o o: My soul sistaaah!!
    Make it two tee shirts and bring it along.
    As`for the Q "what are going to do at home?" I get it all the time too. Even did a post on it here:

    S bora: Sure. There is a lot more material on the subject available on the net. Check it out.

  5. Altoid Says:

    Errrr I must be a hybrid variety. Cos not only do I multitask I am also a stickler to time and schedule. There is one thing though, if I feel its overwhelming and impossible for me to reasonably juggle all the tasks, I will not commit. If I commit, I will adhere to times and schedules.

    So Poly-Mono-Chron?

  6. Usha Says:

    Altoid: You are poly mono chron. and I am roly-poly monochron!:)

  7. raindrops Says:

    something that irritates me to the core.. some people have the audacity to be quite upfront about their "habit" of wasting other's time, and it continues because we let them...... learn to say 'NO', respect time!! well written..

  8. dipali Says:

    I value my time and that of others.
    And I don't achieve enormous amounts of things in a single day- what's the rush. I hate rushing myself and then being made to wait- although I almost always have a book with me so that I can patiently wait in places where there is no choice but to wait, like a doctor's waiting room. Though my dentist here schedules himself very well- never have to wait at all!

    I guess we are kindred spirits!

  9. Praveen Says:

    Interesting...learnt something new, me a Monochron.

  10. Savani Says:

    You hit a nerve there. I hate people like that. BG is always late. always and it annoys me all the time. I am definately a polychron. I have a set of activities/chores I need to do in a set of time.

  11. Blog-hopping brought me here and I'm sure to come back. I am a Monochron - all the way! :)

  12. karan Cheema Says:

    your blog is really nice. All the posts are straight from your heart.
    I completely feel the same way as you. I always go 10-15 mins early everywhere (be it an appointment, meeting, interview, lecture, exam). But yes, I always find people like to make you wait for them ,they always seem to be in a rush or some sorta chase. They want to utilize their time to the fullest, however they don't seem to care about other people's time. I guess too self-centred (?).

    Keep writing!

  13. Unknown Says:

    I am a polychron and Im always late :) :P

  14. Shruthi Says:

    This post is very close to my heart. When you said, that person got her things done by taking away others' time - you are absolutely right.

    Such people bring out the monster in me :D

  15. Anonymous Says:

    A bit of both me, alas.
    Though with age I have begun to prefer monochrons.
    Engaging talk this.

  16. Hip Grandma Says:

    Me a monochron and a slow one at that.I hate to be rushed yet i manage most things in my own cool calculated way.People have commented on how I manage to do all the work at such a slow pace.I don't know if i am slow or appear work is done and i find time to blog,read books it really doesn't matter.

  17. Choxbox Says:

    i think attitudes to being on time are different in different parts of india itself - for eg in mumbai folks in general do not exhibit much tardiness (at least that was how it was when i lived there).

    one of our profs used to be very particular abt time - he'd wait near the door and keep looking at his watch - the instant it was 60 seconds past 8:59 he'd bang the door shut - sometimes the door would shut inches from folks running and trying to get in! it was hilarious (for those inside!).

    his funda was - if you are 1 minute late, you waste n man-minutes (n = number of people already inside the classroom).

  18. Anonymous Says:

    Usha: Polychron does not have to mean 'chronically tardy'. I am a polychron, but I will be damned if you cannot set the arrivals and departures of Swiss trains by my punctuality. I am also quite pointed in telling people off for their tardiness and to make my point, I also sometimes proceed to my next activity as planned even if the previous one is not completed because the other person was late. Result? I would miss dessert at the lunch and excuse myself paying my bit of the bill on the way out.

    Those who wish to fall by the wayside are not 'friends' enough. And so far, none has fallen by the wayside, although I am managed to bring some of them kicking and screaming into the world of being punctual. :-)

  19. Subhashree Says:

    Great post. Read the article too. Then realised that I am monochron and hubby dear is polychron. Being late to any appointment and packing till the last minute for travel are permanent grouses between both of us. I guess, I'll try to be more patient with him in the future :)

  20. Mahadevan Says:

    The ill utilisation or prioritation of time shows that equal distribution is no panacea for the ills we suffer from. How effectively we utilise our resources - be it Time or money - that matters.

    Daily I start as a monchron, but before the end of the day, am compelled to become a polychrons. Today, multi tasking is a virtue.
    Thriving on tension is no longer taboo.

  21. rajk Says:

    I would say I'm a polychron but definitely don't mess around with other people's time. I firmly believe that since I value my time I have no right to take others' for granted.
    BTW, don't know how to tell you this in private since I don't have your email but I dreamt of you the other night and I remember thinking in my dream, "Wow, finally I'm able to put a face to a name!". A very beautiful face, I may add!!

  22. Anonymous Says:

    *hugs* Usha. Happens all the time with almost everyone. That s why they call ir IST ironically. I hate late comers and I usually don't call the people for the next meeting if they delay me too for the first one. Time is too precious to be wasted waiting for someone else who is busy with some other work. Monochron or Polychron, it is imp to know and value others' time if not one's own.
    I've stopped making schedules. Guess this post is gonna get me started again.
    Thanks Usha. Very inspiring to start the day with.

  23. Indian in NZ Says:

    Me too, I can juggle two or three things at a time but I have time frames even for that and if I don't think that I can finish the tasks within that time frame then I don't commit. I hate people who are late and think its cool or that their time is more important than my time is to me.

    I like that line.."don't borrow my time - its precious too." I am like the other person who commented here - I would rather skip my dessert than let someone else wait for me on the other side.

  24. hijabiamma Says:

    I love the title of your post. And thank you for explaining what the words meant at the bottom of your post, because I certainly didn't know what they meant. I find it ironic that you know the english language better than I do myself and I am the native speaker.
    I agree with you completely on respecting peoples time, and trying to figure out those limitations with people who are late. I don't tend to handle people standing me up for an hour as well as you do-- I just leave and let them look for me when they finally do show up.
    I am like altoid, a poly moly chron. But I also like a roly poly cron as well and wonder if I can join in on such the leagues as this? I have always wanted to roly around! ~smiles~

    Thank you once again for such a delving post. My God-father always said, "Time is Money," and it is always nice to see someone who respects time.

  25. Anonymous Says:

    Well I am not Monochron, but I do value other's time, even if I don't bother abt mine too much :)

  26. Aqua Says:

    You learn something new everyday. Now I know that I am a Mo(noch)ron :)

    I know a few polychrons and their energy amazes me...and drains me of whatever i have left in me :)

  27. Usha Says:

    raindrops: Oh yes that too. When they don't even make an effort to feel sorry about wasting somebody else's time - the is the final blow.

    Dipali: Even I do not mind waiting where the delay cannot be helped. And yes, I always carry a book or my music player and in any case I love observing people. But I cannot understand people taking others' time for granted, making no effort to make it on time to appointments.

    S.Praveen: :)

    Dotmom: having a set of activities in a set of time is fine - we all have to in our lives. But not allocating time sensibly and realistically and then wating others' time - now that is not ok.

    Mystic margarita: Please come back.

    here comes the sun: I try to make my posts from my heart and hope it will touch the hearts of others. :)
    The thing is these people do not mind when someone delays them so they cannot understand why our type gets so worked up over a few minutes delay here and there.
    "I am here now no. why can't we enjoy this rather than feeling miserable about what is done and over" seems to be the attitude.

    Eve's lungs: Thanks for warning me. :)

    Shruthi:I know what you mean. The monster in me - yes, that is what they bring out. You know what? there was this onw time I was made to wait for 90 minutes and I waited. But the minute the person turned up I said "hi. Now I 've got to go" and left.

    Maami: Yes, we monochrons are easier on older nerves. I know exactly what you mean. We know that we are not missing anything by not hopping all over the place.
    As it is , there isn't enough time do all the nothing that we want to do.

    Hipgran: yes rememebr that old aesop's tale of the tortoise and the hare. and that proverb about slow and steady? way to go.

    Choxbox:yay! I love this prof.

    Shefaly: No it doesn't. I Have been forced to be polychronic in my work and I still try to manage my time well. At the same time I have been in a lot of misery because of other team members who seem to thing time not as a finite quantity but an expandable thing.And when this happens to be your boss then you cannot just proceed to your next activity and end up with acidity. I did. :)
    "I would miss dessert at the lunch and excuse myself paying my bit of the bill on the way out."
    -That is exactly what I'd have done in my friend' place but no, she wanted to have the full lunch experience and would rather delay the next appointment. This is the attitude that gets my goat.

    Nisha: :) story of my life too. After I have carefully planned and packed it all, he would come and unpack the whole box just to check if i have packed all that he needs half an hour before leaving.
    result: I stopped packing his box. :)

    Mahadevan: Today you have to multi task and if you are a mother you necessarily have to whether you like it or not. All the more reason to carefully plan your time if you want to make life easier for yourself and others.

    rajk: Agree. I am like that too. I am more worried about not wasting someone else's time. I'd rather go 15 mins early for the appointment than make them waste 5 minutes of their time.
    Hey, you dreamt about me? so sweet! Tell me all about it. My mail id is
    Beautiful face huh? - hm, only in your dreams! well, in any case beauty is in the eyes of the beholder right?

    Lively: yes, yes, yes- I am with you all the way.
    Thanks and hugs!

    2b's mommy: And that's why you are such an efficient mom to the 2 b's!

    Mystic_life: Oh yes, there are so many new terms to learn. I am glad you liked the post.
    Roly poly chron, welcome to the club. I am the president and you are the vice president!

    Veens: that's all we ask! :)

    Aqua:What they didn't teach you in the B-school huh? :)
    yes, I feel stressed out just hearing all that they have done during the day and feel I need an extra hour's sleep!:)

  28. oooooh, for a sec, i was worried you were writing about bad me. :-(

    But I wouldn't DREAM of going for a haircut (anything) when it would make somebody waste time waiting for me.
    But sometimes you do end up miscalculating traffic jams...:-)

    I too do value my time as well as others'. I once had a boss who would insist on us going at least 1/2 an hour early for meetings. I used to HATE kicking my heels in the client's reception.. Shows that you value YOUR time not at all..
    And yeah, I think I am a polychrome, or rather, I am forced to be one- in the kitchen, but in all others, am a monochrome. I CANNOT read more than one book at a time, OR SURF CHANNELS!!!

  29. Anonymous Says:

    Hi Usha,
    Nice post! Good to know that I am not an oddity. I'm generally surrounded by polychrons that it always made me feel like a slacker, esp. when it came to planning weekend social activities.
    BTW, inspired by ppl like you, I decided to blog as well. Do take a look sometime.

  30. Anonymous Says:

    I agree with you here. Though some patients have to wait for me sometimes when I am stuck in a case. I always apologise to them then, but many of them look askance at me. Like, "Why is he sorry? It is our job to wait a few hours for the great man, isn't it?"

  31. Sunita Says:

    LOL at roly poly mono!!!

    I am here admist a lengthy boring document review .. so ..but would not set my foot in a parlour when someone's waiting.

  32. Mama - Mia Says:

    Usha! :)

    i dunno what chron i am, but i make sure i reach on time for meetings! i had seen my sis getting lare everytime afta the baby saying late ho gaya bacche ki tayaari mein!

    but with cubby also we manage to reach most places on time!

    i love to have relaxing weekend every now and then where i do absolutely nothing and indulge in pure blissful sloth! at other times, they are so hectic that you need a break from the weekend!

    but mostly it gets balanced out!! :D

  33. Shobana Says:

    I am a monochron...yay!!!! I may have a whole bunch of things to complete, but not at the expense of someone else's time and when someone tries to take advantage of my niceness, they are so not easily getting another appointment out of me

  34. Anonymous Says:

    A subject close to my heart. Don't know what chron I am, but I have often been at the receiving end of other people not turning up on time. Not just turning up on time, it reeks of not taking someone else's time/energy seriously. All this while, they gain extra time, while we lose ours. Irritating...

  35. savitha Says:

    oops, that anonymous was me

  36. Lavs Says:

    I am a monochron:-0 No wonder I neither believe in making others wait for me nor tolerate others who make me wait!!

  37. mynanhipari Says:

    Has been a silent reader all this while. Love your blog.
    I do a lot of multitasking...but hate to keep someone waiting just for me...especially if we have decided to meet outside and not at home.

  38. Anonymous Says:

    Hello Usha - came here from Shruthi's blog on Parenting. Must say it was a fantastic job there. Very insightful :)

    And now, after reading a couple of other posts, I think I will be a regular here :)

    I agree with you on this. I really hated it during my working days when people took me and my time for granted. I was a HR professional and hence people thought that I had all the time in the world. Scheduling a meeting after keeping in mind everyone's conveniences only to realise that everyone else came 30mins late. Over that, no courtesy to even inform about being late. And to top it, acting as though they are the ONLY busy people and I was swatting flies. The attitude disgusts me!

    My only grouse even with the best of my friends is the same thing. Why cant anyone be on time?! Now, atleast to avoid seeing my grumpy face, they come on time.

    Btw, can I blogroll you please?

  39. S! Says:

    These natives are thoroughly disgusting, lootenant. They have watch so they can mis-plan their day & yours.

    It raises very strong emotions in me, lootenant, far too strong to be expressed in words in a public blog.

    I almost raised both my eyebrows with disgust. Really.



  40. Usha Says:

    JLT: hahaha, talk of guilty minds! No, i wasnt talking about you and I know you couldn't have helped it both times. :)

    Vivin: Great! will chek it out asap. all the best.

    rambodoc; If i do not mind waiting for one person, it would have to be my doctor. I wouldn't dream of expecting my surgeon to (literally) wash his hands off his patient because it is time for the next appointment!
    No wonder your patients don't mind waiting for the great man.
    (heheh, as if they have a choice!)

    Sunita: reading blogs whilst a doc review is in progress - some multi-tasking, that!

    mama-mia: I know many moms who conveniently pass the blame on to the child - used to happen all the time in the bank I used to work. All these ladies walking in late and explaining that the delay was because of their kids!!

    Shobana: Ya, it gets my goat only when their tardiness or relaxed view of time eats into my limited time.

    Savitha: You are right about that energy bit too. By the time I wait i'd huff and puff so much that it takes away a lot of my energy too.:)

    Lavs: I guess we monochrons have it simpler because do not expect to accomplish too many things together. it is a problem for these polychrons who sometimes try to bite more than they can chew and also end up being a pain for others.
    I know many multi- taskers who plan their time well enough to manage them all well.

    mynanhipari: thanks for delurking. Yes, as long as it doesn't cause inconvenience to someone else how you manage your time is just your business. :)

    snippetsandscribbles: you reminded me of my working days. Used to be the story of my life every day. No wonder I ended up with acidity.
    Please feel free to blogroll. Pleasure is mine.

    S: Captain, I am sorry that I raised an issue that caused you to raise your eyebrows in anguish, a gesture reserved for the gravest of issues. But I trust you appreciate that this was an issue that had to be discussed even at the risk of such painful consequences. After all it is our duty to educate the natives , don't you reckon?

  41. aMus Says:

    came here thru JLT...and loved this post...struck a chord somehwere...loved the title too..

    i'm a polycron in things that matter(read what teh husband cannot /will not do) and a monocron wrt "i, me'myself'time..

  42. Hmm familiar situation,i am totally like you :),i hate wasting time and waiting for others,i am always early for any appointment of mine,however trivial it is ,i want to finish things on time.

    Your line "All I know is that my time is as important to me as yours is to you, even if I may do nothing with it " is the underlined sentence that should be told to ppl who dont respect time.

    Believe the friend of yours may have done x+n different jobs but at what cost,at the cost of screwing up somebody else precious time(Nothing personal against ur friend).I am sure these category of ppl dont appreciate the value of time and take the things for granted,def not my cup of tea,i would stay away frm such ppl

  43. Anonymous Says:

    hmm... it wouldn't be difficult to guess which category i fall under :0) but what i don't agree (and wouldn't do) is have a haircut on my way to an appointment and waste someone else's time. that i think is just a careless person and not specifically the characteristics of a polycon.

    i also don't see myself doing multiple things at one time. so if i'm having lunch, i'm having lunch and not busy thinking about my haircut next. that way, i'm quite focused :)

    what i'd like to comment about is the statement about "being alone with oneself". for me, i don't need to retreat to my home or some warm cosy dark place to be with myself. even if i'm going to visit the bank to pay a bill, grocery shopping, taking the cat to the vet or having a haircut, it is time with myself. in fact, a large percentage of time running errands and doing things i like is "time for and with myself".

    ultimately, it hardly matters though as to who likes doing what (except for the case where you're wasting someone else's time). and what people really enjoy. i can be a polycon and still be quite efficient. except for the traffic i would rarely have any other excuse for being late.

    it's not a case of one way being better than the other either. and there is always the option of mixing and matching as time and circumstances demand! to lean back and say that i'm a monochon and i can ONLY do one thing today so i am sorry but i cannot meet you for lunch since i had a haircut today wouldn't impress me much either.

    what however i don't agree with is monochons commenting about polycons saying, why don't they slow down? why don't they take some time and spend it at home? why don't they do nothing for a day and vegetate? i think if such a need arises some day (god forbid!), i for one, wouldn't need anyone else to tell me. i'd do just that :)

  44. Usha Says:

    Suma, Stalog: Thanks you.

    Anita: I can tell you which group you are in - you are a super polychron! Haven't we discussed this before? I may have had you in mind while talking about polychrons who seem to get so much out of their day.
    I am not saying that all polychrons are disorganised but by definition, since they do not view time in discrete units of seconds and minutes and hours, they tend to be a little easier. As you yourself mentioned they are concentrating on what they are doing and not about where they should be next. This inevitably leads to a laxer attitude towards punctuality.
    As for the comment about this friend's need to be with herself, It is a specific case because she stresses herself out by running from one activity to another and then goes for two weeks of retreat. Hence the comment. :)