Work in natural light. Use the 90-20 Rule. Add a succulent to your workspace. How many of us have tried a proven productivity hack only to be disappointed that we were still struggling to improve productivity?
The truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to productivity. According to Business Coach and Productivity Consultant Carson Tate, productivity must be personal; it requires an approach customized to our individual cognitive style, strengths, and preferences. However, most of us fall victim to “proven” productivity tips and tools promoted by experts.
To effectively increase productivity, we must follow our natural instincts. The first step to finding what works best is to identify your Productivity Style.
Here are the four Productivity Styles and their associated strengths and characteristics:
Key Characteristics: Goal-Oriented, Decisive, and Logical
A Prioritizer is realistic and analytical, deferring to the facts before making a decision. To increase productivity and accurately plan their workday, Prioritizers time how long it will take to complete a task and stay hyper-focused using strategies like the Pomodoro Technique. Prioritizers are known for their drive, competitiveness and strive for perfect execution. Prioritizers are often labeled controlling, hate distractions, and rarely engage in small talk or share personal details at the office.
Key Characteristics: Action-Oriented, Organized, and Practical
Closely related to Prioritizers are Planners. Where Prioritizers focus on formulating a strategy that will enable them to quickly and efficiently complete a project, Planners immerse themselves in the details of the project itself. Planners thrive in organized environments and rely heavily on a calendar and project-planning tools such as Toodledo and Objectiveli. Because of this, Planners are rarely spontaneous; they stick to a schedule, prepare agendas for meetings in advance, and have file cabinets and drawers full of well-organized and labeled folders. A Planner is never without his or her to-do list, can easily spot a flaw in a plan or process, and is known for timely follow-up.
Key Characteristics: Team Player, Talkative, Persuasive
Unlike Prioritizers who sequester themselves to focus on data and facts, Arrangers are bubbly and emotional individuals who rely on collaboration tools like AnswerHub. They are natural communicators who often express concern for others or ask how they can help complete a task or meet a deadline. They bring a personal touch to their work, which enables them to easily persuade their colleagues when pitching a new idea. As a best practice, Tate recommends that Arrangers “institute a personal chat budget, only allowing a few minutes of chit-chat during work hours.”
Key Characteristics: Creative Problem-Solver, Innovative, Spontaneous
While most people quickly become overwhelmed balancing multiple projects and deadlines, Visualizers thrive under pressure. Instead of tidying their messy, cluttered desks, Visualizers are too busy having a big breakthrough or pursuing an innovative idea. They are creative problem solvers who focus on the big picture, create vision boards full of colorful Post-it notes, and use productivity tools such as Lifetick. Characteristically impulsive, Visualizers can quickly derail a project, so it is important that they proactively record and track ideas to ensure completion.
Productivity is personal. Take the assessment to discover your Productivity Style. You may find that you are a combination of more than one style. Tate says this isn’t unusual because we are whole-brained – we “actively and consistently access, engage, and use all four Productivity Styles.” The goal is to follow your instincts and learn productivity strategies that are tailored to support the way in which you naturally engage.
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