How to Optimize Your Productivity Approach Based On Your Personality

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Your teammate swears by a specific productivity technique. But when you use it, you accomplish far less than usual. Meanwhile, a different team member tries out your favorite time management hack -- and says it was a total productivity killer.

Chances are, you saw different results because you each have different productivity personalities.

According to a survey of 46,000 people by Carson Tate, an expert on workplace productivity and the author of WORK SIMPLY: Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style, people fall into one of four main productivity styles: Prioritizers, Planners, Arrangers, and Visualizers. Tate used a productivity personality assessment (which you can find here) to categorize her respondents’ habits.

Tate used this data to help people identify their individual styles and develop systems that suit them best.

The 4 Productivity Personalities

The Prioritizer

Prioritizers are extremely logical, analytical, practical thinkers. When they’re pursuing a goal, they don’t have any trouble blocking out distractions and getting things done -- their willpower makes them productive. Forty-seven percent of the people who took Tate’s assessment fell into this category.

If you consistently meet deadlines, plan out your projects before you begin, and try to eliminate every possible inefficiency from your day, you’re likely a Prioritizer. You might get impatient when you feel prospects take too long to get to the point or give you unnecessary details.

Prioritizers should try time-blocking, or designating blocks of time in their schedule for specific tasks. For instance, you might spend 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. sending prospecting emails, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. making calls, 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. reading industry news and think pieces, and so on.

Tool Suggestion:

Todoist: This easy-to-use task manager lets you label your action items with hashtags, deadlines, and location reminders. The simplicity will appeal to Prioritizers.

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The Planner

Like Prioritizers, Planners thrive on predetermined schedules. But unlike Prioritizers, who focus only on the most important details, Planners often get caught up in the minutiae of a project.

Do you often add items to your to-do list just to check them off, and rely heavily on schedules and plans? You’re probably a Planner, the second most common productivity personality.

Because Planners are naturally organized, they excel at keeping track of prospects, account details, and their pipeline. But their adherence to structure can also be disadvantageous. Planners aren’t well-equipped to handle last-minute changes. If their prospect doesn’t show up to a call or a sales conversation takes an unexpected turn, they often flounder.

If you’re a Planner, consider keeping a running list of your tasks sorted by category. To give you an idea, you might have columns for “social selling tasks,” “call prep,” “prospecting,” and so forth. When something doesn’t go as planned, use this list to quickly pivot to a related task.

Suppose your discovery call ends earlier than planned. You’re unsure how to spend the unallocated time -- but then you look at your categorized to-do list and realize you can spend the next 10 minutes reviewing your notes for your upcoming discovery calls.

Because this strategy lets you stay in one mindset rather than jumping from project to project, it’ll make you more flexible.

Tool Suggestion:

OmniFocus: This highly customizable productivity app is perfect for Planners. Users can choose different options for viewing their projects, select custom shortcuts and timelines, design task workflows, and filter action items by urgency or type. You can also arrange your sidebar options based on which categories of tasks you use most. For example, if you’re always opening your “Travel” and “Inbox” folders, you could put those at the top of your sidebar for easy access.

The app’s Focus mode will also come in handy. Pick a folder or a project, turn Focus on, and OmniFocus will hide any tasks or notifications unrelated to that folder or project. Since Planners often get distracted by less important details, this mode helps you avoid distractions.

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The Arranger

Arrangers are intuitive, skilled communicators, and highly empathetic -- qualities which make them excellent salespeople. In teams, Arrangers typically facilitate conversations and mediate conflicts. They’re a rare breed: Just 19% of respondents were in this category.

Since Arrangers are so people-oriented, they usually have a hard time wrapping up discussions on time. There’s a good chance you’re an Arranger if your sales meetings are constantly running over.

There are two ways to overcome this productivity obstacle. First, record three or four calls and review them to see where you typically go off-track. Do you spend too long building rapport or talking about irrelevant topics? Are you allowing your prospects to ramble or go on tangents? Once you’ve identified your weak points, you can begin addressing them. Track your progress by the number of your sales calls that end on time.

Second, try scheduling calls back-to-back. With a hard stop, you have no choice but to hang up. According to Jeff Hoffman, creator of the YourSalesMBA™ training program, sticking to the planned meeting time raises the rep’s social value, or their importance relative to their prospect. Sticking to the scheduled stop time shows the rep’s time is valuable and they’re in high demand.

Hoffman recommends saying, “I can’t continue right now because I have another commitment. Would you like to pick up this conversation at 4:30 p.m. or tomorrow at noon?”

Tool Suggestion:

Speechnotes.co: Tate advises Arrangers use a dictation tool to record their thoughts, notes, and to do list items. This free option is straightforward -- just start speaking, and it’ll use your microphone to pick up on what you’re saying and turn it into text.

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The Visualizer

Visualizers, the rarest productivity personality, see the big picture. They’re open-minded, innovative, and strategic. These qualities help them identify new opportunities and flesh out long-term strategies. On the flip side, Visualizers struggle to keep track of small details or stay focused when a project is repetitive or slow-moving. In addition, working within inflexible, highly structured plans is extremely difficult.

Would you rather have a completely open calendar than one scheduled from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.? Do you work best under pressure? Are you most interested in your work when you’re juggling three different projects at once? If you answered “yes” to these questions, you fit the Visualizer archetype.

You won’t be successful if you try to implement a rigid system like planning out every day in advance or dedicating certain times of the day to recurring tasks. But you need some sort of system, or things will fall through the cracks.

Try tackling your tasks by priority. For instance, you might have five items on your to-do list: Two that are important but not urgent, one that’s important and urgent, and two that are time-sensitive but relatively unimportant. Start with the important and urgent one, then finish the time-sensitive tasks, then complete the less timely tasks. Hopping between different task types might be unproductive for other productivity types, but for you, it’s ideal: The variety will keep you engaged in what you’re doing.

Tool Suggestion:

Trello: Visual people tend to love this tool. In one glance, they can see every task they’re currently tackling and how far along each one is. Visualizers will also appreciate Trello’s flexibility; since projects are broken down by progress rather than time frame, they’ll feel less anxious about deadlines.

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Once you’ve identified your productivity personality, you can design a system that’ll fit you to a tee. The more efficient you are, the better you’ll be able to sell.

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