(By Jessica Stillman)
“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to productivity. Time management programs focus almost entirely on how to plan and exercise control over the minutes, hours, and days you spend on specific tasks or activities. That might work for some people, in some jobs. But for others, who think, learn, communicate, and execute differently, and deal with multifaceted and dynamic responsibilities, it probably won’t.“
Everyone loves a quiz. Who hasn’t enjoyed spending five minutes with a glossy magazine and learning the identity of your spirit animal or your preference in love language? But can a short, fun questionnaire go beyond passing the time on your commute or offering a few giggles and actually help you get more done at work?
That’s the contention of Carson Tate, author of Work Simply, who claims to have pinned down four distinct productivity styles along with ideas on how each type of worker can best contribute to his or her team.
Productivity isn’t one size fits all
“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to productivity. Time management programs focus almost entirely on how to plan and exercise control over the minutes, hours, and days you spend on specific tasks or activities. That might work for some people, in some jobs. But for others, who think, learn, communicate, and execute differently, and deal with multifaceted and dynamic responsibilities, it probably won’t,” she wrote recently on HBR.
“Instead, we need to personalize productivity–to employ work strategies that align with our own cognitive styles and to plan and allocate effort in a way that suits our strengths and preferences,” Tate concludes.
Prioritizer, planner, arranger, or visualizer?
Which sounds fascinating but depends on one very important detail–you need to know your own cognitive style, strengths, and preferences. Handily, Tate has cooked up a free, short assessment she claims can help. Simply enter your email and answer 28 multiple choice questions and her site will send you an email outlining whether you’re a Prioritizer, Planner, Arranger, or Visualizer.
Beyond identifying your style, the results of the assessment also offer additional insights to help you make the most of the way of working that comes naturally to you, including a run down of your likely strengths and pet peeves, as well as an analysis of your decision-making style and preferred productivity tools.
For example, Planners like me, apparently love “digital lists and project planning apps like Tom’s Planner and Omnifocus (which lets them create and track projects by project, place, person, or date), Agendas (which lets them create interactive agendas and broadcast them to iPad users), and Ziplist.” (Though it seems like Ziplist is no longer available.)
“When you know your own thinking preferences, you can choose and use more effective and sustainable strategies for managing your time, your projects, and your tasks,” Tate explained in another post, which also includes a quick chart to help readers understand how each productivity style can best contribute in a team environment.
Take the quiz and find out: which productivity style are you?
Jessica Stillman is a freelance writer based in Cyprus with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist.