4 Ways To Optimise Work Based On Your Personality

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As the adage goes: work smart, not hard. But exactly how do you do that? The answer: Know your productivity style is the best way. With the pandemic opening up new ways of working, such as flexible work arrangements, this opens up space and options for us to pursue the best ways of working.  

We all know this: What works for your messy colleague may not work for your other impatient colleague. How can you then personally customise your work schedule and work environment to best fit your unique productivity style? 

Carson Tate, author of Work Simply, highlights the importance of knowing oneself and mastering oneself by developing 4 unique productivity styles that apply to all of us at work. Her work shows how we all process information, solve problems and complete tasks differently. Take the quiz at the end to find out how you can make the most of how your brain is innately wired for work!

The Prioritiser

shallow focus photo of woman in beige open cardigansource

Because of their laser-sharp focus on end goals, Prioritisers ask short and direct “what” questions. “What’s the bottom line?” “What trend does the data point us to?” 

Characteristics: 

  • Logical
  • Analytical
  • Efficient
  • Realistic

Contributions: 

  • Decisive
  • Linear problem-solver
  • Goal-oriented
  • Focused on essential parts of a task

Blind spots: 

  • Tendency to be controlling and stubborn
  • Values end goals over external possibilities
  • Overcompetitive; seeks challenges
  • Prizes speed over quality of task

To optimise their existing sharpness and efficiency, Prioritisers should do the following: 

  • Time how long it takes to complete tasks and aim to beat those timings, to increase the number of tasks the Prioritiser can complete each day.
  • Incorporate more time-saving strategies like saving email templates that can be reused over and over by the Prioritiser.
  • Rank work tasks regularly by its value and keep all to-dos always visible using Post-Its, so as to speed up the time it takes 
  • If you are a Prioritiser: work closely with a Planner to ensure work quality is achieved; stick close with an Arranger who helps buttress your relentless drive amongst your fellow workers; or bounce ideas with a Visualiser so you can look at solving problems through a refreshing, non-linear approach.

The Planner

man in white long sleeve shirt writing on white boardsource

Planners hold high standards in all work processes, They often ask “how” questions. “How does this extra step add value to the final product?” “How can we increase staff morale?” 

Characteristics: 

  • Organised
  • Detailed
  • Practical
  • Conscientious

Contributions: 

  • Thorough planner
  • Able to spot flaws in processes
  • Action-oriented
  • Consistent

Blind spots: 

  • Misses out on opportunities outside the plan
  • Values processes over end goals
  • Relies heavily on visible results
  • Rigid; cannot deviate from set tasks

Tips for Planners: To enhance their already methodical and fastidious nature, Planners can:

  • Break down all tasks on hand into clear, progressive steps. This gets the Planner into action through manageable, minute portions.
  • Organise work into sub-tasks and deadlines, as the Planner’s productivity style is optimised when there is structure and order.
  • In terms of work environment, keep all paperwork filed neatly and labelled according to category 
  • If you are a Planner: work closely with a Prioritiser who takes your eyes off the “journey” sometimes and reminds you of the “destination”; seek advice from an Arranger who gives you a human touch to all your mechanical whirring; or synthesise your eye for practicality with the Visualiser’s lofty ideals.

The Arranger

five person by table watching turned on white iMacsource

Because of their obsession with people and the impact tasks have on others, Arrangers often ask “who” questions. “Who are the members going along with this decision?” “Who can help you when you’re faced with a difficulty?”

Characteristics: 

  • Empathetic
  • Supportive; team player
  • Persuasive
  • Intuitive

Contributions: 

  • Anticipates others’ feelings
  • People-oriented
  • Effective communicator
  • Expressive of concern on tasks

Blind spots: 

  • Does not plan; misses tasks of the project
  • Taking too much responsibility for others
  • Too near-sighted; misses the big picture
  • Values people over tasks

To ride on the Arranger’s need for warmth and connectedness, they can:

  • Create as many in-person meetings as possible – the Arranger does not work solo!
  • The collaborative Arrangers are best users of the Slack app where they can chat regularly with fellow workers. Arranger bosses can make use of things like Trello app to track team members’ assigned tasks.
  • Make sure the Arranger’s work environment “feels” just right – with visually appealing posters pinned in the work cubicle; Spotify music playlists that induce focus; or notebooks that are pleasing to the touch.
  • If you are an Arranger: work closely with a Prioritiser to get you focused; get accountable with a Planner so that your actions have discipline; or stay connected with a Visualiser just so you can have that deep conversation you need for recharging!

The Visualiser

flowers and tablet on tablesource

Because of their eye for the big picture and for possibilities, Visualisers often ask “why” questions. “Why don’t we think of a unique way to approach this project?” “Why does our company exist? It’s because…”

Characteristics: 

  • Creative
  • Open-minded
  • Future-oriented
  • Sees the big picture

Contributions: 

  • Innovative problem-solver
  • Idea-oriented
  • Spots opportunities; changemaker
  • Synthesises ideas; visionary

Blind spots: 

  • Values possibilities over processes
  • Excessive spontaneity and impulsiveness; lacks practicality
  • Fails to plan; deviates from tasks of the project
  • Ignores small details and execution work

To harness the Visualiser’s breadth of ideas optimally at work, they can:

  • Spend no more than 20 minutes of attention on each task before switching to another – the Visualiser needs speed and variety at work to be at her peak.
  • Conduct freestyle brainstorming sessions with the team to allow the Visualiser’s ideation juices to flow (under guidance of course)!
  • The Visualiser’s desk surface seldom sees the light of day, because out of sight, out of mind. TimeTackle helps categorise events according to importance. This helps Visualisers swiftly prioritise and act on incoming events meaningfully and on time.
  • If you are a Visualiser: work closely with a Prioritiser to add some punctuality to your deadlines; keep in step with a Planner to operationalise your ideas; or spend some break time with an Arranger so that you have a listening ear for all your plans for the year ahead! 

There you go! Understanding your productivity style requires self-awareness. To find out which of the 4 styles you display, Take the productivity style quiz here for free by Harvard Business Review. Signup may be required. Find out once and for all how you can be truly productive and efficient when you optimize your work based on your productivity style. And be sure to do periodic evaluations along the way to see if the fit you have found works in the long term!

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