We don’t like thinking about it, but there’s a reason why time management tips work for some people and doesn’t work for others. It all has to do with the way we perceive time. For some of us, time is an incredibly finite resource that needs to be maximized through careful planning. The rest think that what little time we have in this world has to be enjoyed as organically as possible.

Obviously, these are very different ways of looking at time. It’s no wonder, then, that there’s typically an explosion when these two time management styles collide.

The Story of Bill and Maria

Bill and Maria were supposed to meet up at a restaurant around 6 pm on a Wednesday to discuss a potential business partnership.

Bill, an experienced antique appraiser, left work at around 4 pm so he can get ready for the meeting. He went home, checked his voicemail, and made a schedule for returning calls at 7:30. He took a shower, got dressed, and took the shortest route to the restaurant, which also happens to experience the lightest traffic at that time of day. He arrived at the venue with five minutes to spare. He calls up Maria, the auction house owner he wanted to work with, and tells her that he’s already been seated, and she tells him that she’s already on her way.

She arrives an hour and a half later, laughing apologetically. On her way out the door, Maria realized that she had another outfit that’s better suited for their meeting – so she changed her clothes. Then, she took the long way because she decided she wanted to see a property she was thinking of converting into another auction house. After that, she ran across another business associate and offered to give her a ride because where she was going was on the way anyway. She lost track of the time catching up with the business associate, and missed a crucial turn.

Business teamDo you think their affiliation pushed through?

Time Management Styles and Businessmen

Most of us think that business people are all hyper-organized – because you have to be, when you’re trying to build and run a company. But that isn’t necessarily true, especially these days.

The truth is that there are several successful entrepreneurs today who are clearly not the type to have strict schedules. In fact, it’s this very spontaneity that helps them thrive. It makes them flexible enough to respond and adapt to new situations without breaking a sweat. They’re excited about new opportunities, and know how to turn unexpected developments into opportunities. In a world that creates new technology every few months or so, this is a very valuable quality to have. Unfortunately, these people can also miss deadlines and force their people to push back launch dates.

On the other hand, the more “traditional” perception of businessmen – the ones who seem to have their PDAs grafted onto their flesh – take pride in getting things done on time. They try to anticipate issues that may arise in the future, thus allowing their businesses to have contingency plans in case of setbacks. They tend to be very decisive and authoritative, typically inspiring respect among their people due to their clear vision and efficiency. These days, when everything is in flux, it’s nice to have a steady and reliable person. Unfortunately, these people tend to be unforgiving of unforeseen delays in schedule.

Can Bill and Maria Work Together?

It may seem like an impossible venture, but the fact of the matter is that it really is possible for meticulous planners and freewheeling non-planners to get along in business. The key here is to understand the other person’s working styles and try to work it into their own approach.

For example, Bill can resolve to schedule follow-ups with Maria on the actual day of their meeting so they can negotiate and re-negotiate the time and venue. He can also use the time waiting for Maria to get some other things done, things that don’t really need to be strictly scheduled (like returning phone calls).

Maria, in the meantime, can try to keep her schedule under control by taking note of how much time she thinks she has and compare it with the amount of time she actually has at her disposal. This way, she can better manage the number of activities she packs into a day. Maria can also resolve to call Bill every time something new comes up.

Above all else, they need to be able to communicate to ensure that they are on the same page. It’s the only way anyone can make their time management styles mesh.