As we mature from early childhood to adulthood, we begin to learn and be conditioned when it comes to time. In the beginning, we had no responsibility for time; our caretakers were responsible for our every moment. As we progressed, we learned how to tell time on our own and came to understand that the world ran by the measurement of it. This likely started when we first went to school because we needed to arrive at a certain time and hand in assignments on specific dates, etc. Influenced by these requirements, we began to place value on things like schedules, punctuality, and deadlines.

Eventually, this resulted in us each measuring life by units of time, which then extended to others, and we began valuing others based on their relationship with time in comparison with our relationship with it. Today, we project our own rules onto others and have beliefs around how others value us based on their relationship with time.

Through my teaching and coaching, I have come to understand that there are two Time Types, which I have defined as the Time Watchdog and the Time Lounger. Over time, each of us has developed to be one of the two.

The Watchdog has an intense adherence to anything time related: structure, organization, precision, and rules. Clocks, alarms, and measures are set to cue you on when things are supposed to happen. You follow a schedule and a system that brings order and predictability. You have high value and respect for punctuality and being on time. The Time Watchdog can add pressure to self and others through inflexibility and judgment when there is variance or when others don’t adhere to the Watchdog’s strict standards around time.

If you are a Lounger, you believe that time will bend to your will. You feel at ease with time, but to others, you may appear chaotic or flighty. You believe that things will happen when they are supposed to and that time unfolds rather than operates in a carefully measured manner. You frequently get lost in the present moment, which likely affects others more than you. But Time Loungers can also become defensive by overexplaining why they’re late, which can give the appearance of being irresponsible, not caring, or feeling misunderstood.

Knowing these Time Types and the characteristics of each allows you to see the difference in others and have more empathy, compassion, and understanding for their style.

It’s no secret that the fundamental success of business is based on time and how it’s used. Performance results require adherence to schedules, deadlines, appointments, and meetings. Your Time Type could have a profound impact on the way people view you, your ability to advance in your career, your effectiveness on teams, and the perception of your overall performance.

If you are a Lounger and don’t meet deadlines or are consistently late to meetings, etc., it could have a detrimental effect on team cohesion, job performance, your career, and people’s perceptions of you.

On the flip side, if you are a Watchdog and overreact, hold strict standards, lack empathy, and are inflexible, this can equally impact your relationships and effectiveness with others.

The key here is to have an open dialogue and create agreed-upon guidelines on time-related issues. This eliminates potential stress and pressure between different Time Types on the team, which creates an environment that flourishes. Everyone will know what’s expected and have pre-agreements in place about how to adjust if there is any variance to the schedule.

Excerpt from The Time Cleanse: A Proven System to Eliminate Wasted Time, Realize Your Full Potential, and Reinvest in What Matters Most by Steven Griffith, p.151-156 (McGraw-Hill Education March 22, 2019)

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  • Steven Griffith

    Author, Executive Coach

    High Performance Coaching

    Steven Griffith is one of the leading authorities on the psychology of productivity and the connection between time, productivity, and performance. He's been helping the world’s most successful executives, CEO’s, high end real estate pros, military leaders, professional athletes, celebrities, and organizations around the world perform at their peak levels. As a high performance author, researcher and coach, he has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, Forbes,, Style and Esquire TV.
    Follow him on FacebookTwitterInstagram and LinkedIn and check out his new book The Time Cleanse to get more done in less time here.