Written by Nancy Parsons
After seeing the viral video of the TikToker complaining about companies not being respectful or accommodating of her “Time Blindness,” my interest piqued. My firm, CDR Companies, LLC, has provided in-depth personality assessments for the last 25 years. We measure this tendency for time blindness under our Five Factor Model Character Assessment[i] instrument, as a subscale called "Prefers Predictability."[ii] A lower score indicates one who is not planful, has a relaxed sense of time, adapts to changing events and seems to go with the flow. Prefers Predictability is one of seven subscale traits under the Prudence scale which measures how practical, conscientious, self-controlled and disciplined, steady, reliable, stable, and logical one is versus being spontaneous, risk taking, adventurous, potentially creative, adaptable and inventive.
I was also keenly interested because I, too, suffer from a low score on Prefers Predictability and have had time challenges my entire life. You might refer to it as a gap in time management and time orientation. When an individual has a high score on Prefers Predictability, they are naturally good and at ease with time management, scheduling, organizing, and punctuality. They often perform well in planning, project management, and jobs that need to keep schedules or logistical processes on track.
Then there are the rest of us who struggle with keeping time straight in our heads or meeting our schedules. It can be tough to figure out how to allocate sufficient time for tasks, especially for everyday events like getting ready for work. In my mind, I tend to work in chunks of time, which may sound foreign to high scorers in Prefers Predictability. I have what I refer to as “occasional calendar dyslexia” and inadvertently switch dates and times of meetings. Staying organized and on time is a constant challenge.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, "Most people suffer from time to time with a skewed perception of time. However, severe conditions of 'Time Blindness' may impact people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism spectrum disorder so keeping track of time can be particularly difficult."
People experiencing time blindness may have challenges with:
- Time perception: They may struggle to accurately estimate the passage of time, leading to difficulties in planning and time management.
- Time awareness: They might be less aware of time passing, resulting in a tendency to lose track of time or be late for appointments.
- Time planning: They may find it hard to create and follow schedules, leading to inefficiencies and disorganization.[iii]
We have assessed and coached thousands of leaders and professionals with low scores on Prefers Predictability. Often, this low propensity for an internal clock and time management is present in more innovative, free-spirited profiles or those who are flexible, adaptable, and enjoy change. This is why one's inherent personality matters greatly in choosing a job, and career direction. Ultimate success involves aligning your work with your hard-wired personality traits.
For example, if you have low Prefers Predictability as I do, serving in a project management or scheduling role, or worse yet, as an air traffic controller, would not be good “job fits.” The most valuable thing that you can do is to:
- find what your natural strengths and talents are – in detail
- 2discover your passions (intrinsic motivators)
Doing so lets you focus on what you are good at and what you enjoy most, or even love, and build a career path around those things. This maximizes your potential, success and happiness in your work life. [At the end of this article, we have a solution to help you become fully self-aware and build an accurate career plan with our new digital avatar coaching technology, CDR-U Coach.]
Of course, there are some basic work requirements that apply to all of us, time blindness or not. We all need to support our work ecosystems by showing up on time, contributing to getting work done, showing respect to others, working within policy and safety requirements, etc. These are not optional requirements. These are part of adult occupational life and depend on basic self-discipline to comply.
Just because someone suffers from low Prefers Predictability, or time blindness, this is not an excuse to be late or fail to meet work time commitments. We all have to push ourselves to meet the basic job requirements. This includes being punctual and courteous to our co-workers and customers by being on time. Shoring up our gaps and performing at our best is crucial to employment and business success.
We all have gaps. Someone else's gap may be your strength. You may shine in areas other than time management. There may be some jobs where timeliness is not a critical issue such as for some independent contractors, artists or writers. However, even in these professions, there will be deadlines.
If you are naturally time challenged or suffer from time blindness, be sure to:
- Set at least two alarms and possibly have someone call you too.
- Ask for assistance with allotting sufficient time for tasks – find out what steps it takes to complete the tasks.
- Set your timer on your phone or computer as you work through tasks to help keep you to reasonable timeframes.
- Use an effective calendar/scheduling system and review this several times daily, especially when you start and finish your workday! Sync it with your email so you see it.
- Partner with a peer, friend, or assistant to support and nudge you on the important tasks to help with time management and staying on track.
- Keep a list of needed tasks to check as you go and to help you keep moving on your list.
- Celebrate your successes – always! You can do this!
It is important to understand that we all have an array of personality strengths. We also have naturally occurring gaps and personality-based risk factors that can undermine our effectiveness. Gaps and risk factors can interfere with our success – if we let them.
The most important step is to become deeply self-aware so that you know all of your specific traits. The truth is that studies show that only 10 to 15% of people are self-aware[iv] so this causes repeated job performance and career missteps. Build and leverage your strengths in the best ways that you can. Find a job role that benefits from your unique array of strengths. Understand your gaps and brainstorm tactics and a plan to manage them effectively so that they don't derail your success or job performance. As in this case of low Prefers Predictability or time blindness, be on time!
Last, risk factors are personality-based traits that show up under stress or conflict. Just because someone has a risk factor does not mean deploying ineffective or bad behaviors is okay. For example, if you have a risk as an "Egotist"[v] (one of 11 we measure) this does not mean it is okay to act abrasively or in a condescending way towards others even though it may be a naturally occurring reaction for you when you are angry or upset. In business and when serving on a team, we cannot allow our risk factor behaviors to run free – just as we cannot permit our gaps (such as time blindness) from interfering with our job requirements.
A Solution to Increasing Your Self-Awareness
To help those at all levels develop an essential and keen sense of self-awareness, we offer an international award-winning, confidential digital avatar coaching experience. CDR-U Coach debriefs each individual's personal results from the CDR Character, Risk, and Drivers & Rewards (motivational) Assessments. This allows you to get your career on the best track by identifying and utilizing your strengths and gifts, understanding your gaps, realizing what energizes and makes you feel fulfilled and preventing your risks from hurting your success. CDR-U Coach also helps you to build a successful and sustainable career action plan focusing on your personality and motivational vocational fitness.
Note for Individuals with ADHD and Autism
Those with ADHD or Autism should contact your medical provider and company for guidance and potential accommodations.
[i] CDR Character Assessment, CDR Companies, LLC., Stafford, TX. (1998)
[iii] ChatGPT.com (seemingly accurate insights on this subject)
[iv] https://hbr.org/2018/01/what-self-awareness-really-is-and-how-to-cultivate-it (Eurich, Tasha)
[v] CDR Risk Assessment, CDR Companies, LLC., Stafford, TX (1998)