A couple years ago I Googled something along the lines of “how to optimize my time” or “top ten ways to stay productive” and stumbled upon a 2015 Harvard Business Review assessment that gauged productivity styles (found here). Jackpot! I was eager for direction on how to stay productive throughout the day because what worked for me in college (go Rams!) was not working out in the professional world with real-world projects.
I read the article that proceeds the assessment (found here) and out of the four options (Prioritizer, Planner, Visualizer, and Arranger), I thought I’d for sure be an Arranger; someone who is more of a “real-time” planner who determines what activities will get the most out of current energy levels or environments. After taking the assessment twice, I came to terms with the fact that I was, at the time, a Planner. Made sense, I need organization and love organizing details.
However, I took the assessment again in early 2017 and the results said I was a Prioritizer. Again, after some consideration I agreed that a more logical, fact-based method of managing my time was my style now that I’d learned how to balance work and life on top of a new role that consisted of frequent milestones and condensed timelines. You know where this is going…last month I took the assessment again and this time it said I was a Visualizer; someone who benefits from a more “holistic” approach to tasks and thrives off flexibility with projects and schedules.
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The point is that everyone has a different method for staying productive and productivity styles change based on our environments. In consulting, a majority of your day-to-day changes based on projects. The commute, work space, length of work day, team, and functional focus shifts for a semi-determined amount of time. It makes sense that some or all of the methods utilized to stay on track may require alterations. It’s up to us to make sure we’re aware of our current state of focus and align our day-to-day practices accordingly.
Carson Tate, the author of the HBR article Match Your Productivity Approach to the Way You Work and creator of the assessment, said, “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.” She also goes on to say, “There is no one-size-fits-all approach to productivity”.
In addition to Carson’s statements and suggestions, it’s essential we assess work strategies based on our current state. So, I’m sharing some questions I asked myself after my last go at the assessment (which you should definitely try out!).
These five questions helped me address and readjust some productivity practices to really make the most of my work day:
- What times of the day are you most productive?
- Are you working on a team or individually, at this time?
- Does your work environment allow a consistent amount of time to focus/work or, are you frequently interrupted?
- What do you reference to keep track of tasks?
- What distracts you throughout the day?
Answering these questions can help you identify changes to your work environment that are either new additions or aspects that slipped under the radar.
The important thing to keep in mind is what works for you in terms of productivity may be different for those on your team and while there may be different methods at play, a happy medium can usually be met! I know it sounds cliche but open communication about various work methods can go a long way. Perhaps share this assessment with your team as a conversation starter.
Visit our blog to read more of our team’s insights or, learn more about Perficient by visiting www.perficient.com. To read more about Carson Tate and her methodology for work life management, visit www.carsontate.com.