It’s About Focus–Where You Point Your Sword

By Jack Speer | April 6, 2015

Some people would rather French kiss a chain saw than make a to-do list to follow for a day. Others groove to the latest apps that pull together their horoscope, their pulse and blood pressure, and tell them what they’ll be doing for the next 9 years.

Time management is perhaps the most tricky issue we have. You work hard, you’re passionate about what you do, and very skilled. But you can still be quite off track in your approach to the way you should use your time.

The fundamental thing about time management is why you’re doing what you do more than check-off to-do lists that keep you from forgetting what you wrote down to do. That’s where Judgers and Perceivers can get hopelessly off track, heading in a direction leading to nowhere.

A good example is the classic Don Quixote. Time management is more about focus than anything else — it’s not just the skill of the swordsman, it’s where you point your sword.

JackHead2This famous knight, created by Miguel Cervantes, puts down his books about the legendary knights of old and dudes himself up in his finest brand new fashion armor to ride out with his sidekick, Sancho Panza — and to shock the people in the countryside — and they had good reason to be shocked.

Knights were already long gone. 1605 was “modern times,” with printing presses, Spanish explorers, and modern armies. Don Quixote and Sancho were late in taking to the road to renew chivalry and to right the wrongs of the world–there had been no knights for well over 500 years. Today we describe a person as “quixotic” as a person on a mission that makes no difference. And in managing my days, that person may be me.

Personality type is a great indicator both of what we’ll do and why we’ll do it — and in what order.

J and P are all big dividers that everyone who knows anything about personality is aware of. Yet, a bit more subtle is that fact that each of the 16 personality types tend to manage their time differently.

Here are a few examples:

Will spend endless days putting together the documentation to report on what has happened in finance, policy, regulations — anywhere there is a string of data that needs be be put together. If the good Lord himself appeared with a special mission, the ISTJ would tell him that special mission would have to wait until the ISTJ had done the final report.

ENTP. Are appalled at the approach of the ISTJ. They wouldn’t waste their life pulling together minutiae when their gut and the technical skills guide them where they need to go.

INTP. Is saying that everyone is headed down the wrong track. Let’s back away, says the INTP, and take a look at some basic flaws I see in the approach. Until we clear those up, there’s no reason to move forward.

ESFP. Wants everyone to know they’re being way too intense. We can get this done, maintain our relationships, accomplish our goals, and have fun and not stress out.

ENFP. Is moving forward fast with friends and backers who share the belief that we should just overlook all these little hiccups and live the joy of change.

ESTJ. Just wants to know why we’re not moving forward, and what’s holding up just going after it.

ENFJ. Tells us we need to have an off-site and facilitate a group approach to how we’re going to operate together.

ENTJ. Insists nobody has a clue what the overall plan is and lays it out clearly, leaving it to someone else to carry out the details.

ESTP. The ESTP tells us that if we’ll observe people carefully, we’ll know what their needs are and accomplish that through understanding people and the way things work.

The MBTI temperaments are also strong indicators of the focus that a person will have in using their time. Reviewing for those of us who need a quick review, there are four temperaments and we’ll describe what the focus of each is likely to be as they go through the issues of the day.


Time from an SJ perspective is set by the task. The SJ will spend their time ensuring that it is done well, meticulously, accurately, and efficiently. The eye of the ISTJ is on the detail. You’ll love them for their ability to keep the facts in order, but the ISTJ can come over as gatekeepers and insensitive to group dynamics. In positions of authority, they can bring the time of the group to a stop if they believe that there are key errors in the data.


If you’re an NF, the time best spent is in building relationships within the team because work gets done through individual relationships and group dynamics. The NF’s hold the team together through creating relationships. The downside is that they may hold the group in place long after there is a real reason for it to exist.


NT’s are the most outcome-driven of all the types. Once they have an outcome in mind, they run the team like a NASA launch, with the countdown measured in minutes, counting down to blast off. In this approach to time, there is always room for collateral damage. They are great believers in the concept that you have to break a lot of eggs to make an omelette. Even as the ENTJ wins the battle, he or she may find it difficult to keep people on board to win the war.


SP’s manage time from the perspective of the right moment. It is in that moment when everything comes together to achieve success. SP’s are often seen as indifferent to looming deadlines and not taking time seriously. Nothing could be further from the truth, as witnessed in great athletes, musicians, entrepreneurs, and medical experts–people for whom timing is everything. They are keenly aware of performance as a part of timing, and will time what they do to the nanosecond when it involves the way they perform.

The genius of a diversity of personality type is in the different approaches we take to time. Any type, left to their default mode, can derail a process or end up out in the weeds. Focus is everything. If we know the focus, a diversity of type can take us to a great outcome.