You're no stranger to the slew of productivity tools available today. You probably swear by Evernote to keep a running list of your ideas, and have some favorite planner apps to stay on task. And you do those things because being efficient and productive helps you bring your A game to work every single day.
But to do your best job and realize major successes, it's crucial that the ways in which you work and the tools you use, are in sync with your work culture and your success goals. For example, if you've ever used a productivity tool in the hope of upping your effectiveness twofold only to discover that you're slogging through tasks at a slower pace, there's a solid chance the tool just doesn't match up with the way you receive and process information.
Carson Tate, author of Working Simply: Embracing the Power of your Personal Productivity Style, knows a little something about "working smarter, not harder."
"When you incorporate productivity tools and strategies with the ways that you think, it's easier for you to adopt and sustain changes in your behavior, which is what ultimately leads to success," says Tate.
A Personalized Approach to Being Productive
Tate believes that in order to understand and put to use the full measure of your productivity skills, it helps to learn how you process information and then act on that information.
"We all give out discernible clues that show us which productivity style we're most in sync with, from the structure of our emails to the questions we ask to how we work with our own time," explains Tate.
To illustrate that belief, she's developed the Productivity Style Assessment—a quick and easy way for you to discover what she calls your "Productivity Style." The Assessment determines whether you're a Prioritizer, Planner, Arranger, Visualizer, or a combination of each.
Here's how those styles break down:
- The Prioritizer. Known for deep critical thinking skills and approaching problems and projects in analytical and logical ways, Prioritizers are masters at tackling tasks in precise order and using time effectively. Incredibly goal-oriented, Prioritizers tend to use jargon and buzzwords, and prefer to receive info in brief, concise ways.
- The Arranger. Arrangers are great team players, who pool the strengths and efforts of multiple people to get the job done. They're "feelers"—expressive, supportive, and emotive— who intuit when instructing and making decisions. Arrangers are great at using their powers of persuasion, and are turned off by data-driven approaches to solving problems.
- The Planner. Planners love to get super deep into details and have a sequential, step-by-step mode of working. They know just how to allocate the proper amount of time to tasks, and are naturals at creating realistic and succinct project timelines. While last-minute requests annoy just about everyone, they can really throw Planners off track.
- The Visualizer. Visualizers are amazing at synthesizing information and seeing the big picture when working toward creative solutions; they don't like to get bogged down by a lot of details. Visualizers are innovative, extremely open-minded, and willing to take risks and constantly challenge the status quo.
Now that you know your own Productivity Style and the traits behind each, here are four ways you can align your strengths with your style to position yourself for career success:
1. Work smarter with peers and higher-ups
If you tend to have "a-ha!" moments that help you solve problems or discover really smart strategies, colleagues with productivity styles and challenges similar to yours might benefit from your knowledge. For example, if you're a product manager, try managing up to see if you can implement a department-wide process or a new project management tool. If you work on a team with people who have styles dissimilar to yours, suggest ways to help them align their own styles with their tasks. For example, if your team is coming up on a product launch deadline, suggest working in longer stretches of non-interrupted, focused blocks of time.
2. Tame the email beast
Managing emails can slow down even the most efficient worker. But if you learn to manage them according to your productivity style, you'll save time and up your effectiveness. "Sending and responding to emails takes a lot of time and energy. But when properly managed, email communication can provide quick substantial wins," says Tate. So, if you're a Prioritizer, check emails during low-productivity times; if you're a Planner, designate specific times; and if you're a Visualizer, avoid distraction by closing your email app during certain times of the day.
3. Negotiate for what you need
Put your savvy negotiation skills to use by asking for what you need to produce high-quality work according to your style. For instance, if you're a lawyer who's a Visualizer, ask for a whiteboard to envision ideas, stay organized, and assess your role on a particular case. "Time is a commodity—it's more precious than the dollars in your wallet, and it's to be invested in ways that provide the highest returns for you," says Tate.
4. Seek a workplace culture that showcases your strengths
If you're job hunting, look for a company culture that plays into your strengths and helps you perform at your very best each and every day. "When you leverage the strengths of your productivity style with your work culture, you can work in the impactful ways and achieve the greatest results," says Tate." For instance, if you're a Visualizer, look to join a company that's open to new ideas and taking risks. If you're a Planner, seek a job that values your attention to detail and your amazing ability to come up with a purposeful project roadmap. If you're an Arranger, look for work environments in which team work is the norm, and effectively running meetings among stakeholders is crucial. Getting their buy-in will play right into your supportive nature and identifying who on the team will be best at what tasks.
When you leverage the strengths of your productivity style with the responsibilities of your role, you'll have the maximum impact at work and generate the results you want to deliver.
To learn more about how to position your strengths for workplace success, reach out to our Career Strategy team.