The concept of time, how it is perceived and how it is used, is another very important example of differences between cultures. Cultures are often classified as sequential or synchronic. Basically, if you come from a sequential culture, you see time as a line with events happening one after the other in chronological order. If you come from a synchronic culture, you see time as a cycle which repeats itself over and over.
Of course, when reading these characteristics, you must keep in mind that they describe two extremes. Most cultures lie somewhere in between. In addition, we must be careful not to over-generalise, as individuals within a culture may be very different.
Here are some characteristics of the two concepts of time:
People tend to do only one activity at a time
Appointments must be respected; activities are scheduled in advance and often close together
Keeping to the schedule is more important than relationships
Strong preference for following original plans
People tend to multi-task
Appointments are approximate and subject to change: more time left between events
Relationships are more important than schedules
Strong preference to let events/relationships guide planning
Do you come from a sequential or synchronic culture?