Productivity Style: The Type A
Reese Witherspoon in Election, Legally Blonde, Big Little Lies.... You get the idea. Your life is one blissful to-do list. Whether it’s getting into Harvard Law School (Elle) or taking on the Monterey moms (Madeline), you thrive on crossing things off.
SUCCESS STRATEGY: Keeping up a relentlessly focused pace may be your comfort zone, but give yourself permission to watch a “Carpool Karaoke” video or two. Why? Your brain starts to zone out after about 45 minutes of intense focus. In fact, a study by start-up hub Draugiem Group found that the most productive employees take 17-minute breaks for every 52 minutes of intense work.
HOW TO FOCUS IN: If you want to keep your ideas flowing, boredom also helps. There’s a reason why so many successful people have an “Aha” moment while in the shower or daydreaming. (J.K. Rowling came up with Harry Potter while on a delayed train.) Spacing out also activates the brain’s default mode (DM), which has been linked to better problem solving and improved memory.
PROCRASTINATION PREVENTION: Use your beloved lists to your advantage. (Yes, planner types can be procrastinators too.) Create a “15-minute” list with tasks that you can complete within a quarter of an hour. According to productivity expert Carson Tate, crossing these off— even something as simple as “Book manicure” or “Email Mom” — will give you the sense of accomplishment you crave and motivate you to tackle larger tasks.
HELPING HAND: Read Bored and Brilliant (based on the tech-free challenges from WNYC podcast Note to Self), which reveals how mind wandering can kick-start your creativity.
Productivity Style: The Brainiac
With the analytical mind of a thinker like Lisa Simpson, you'll never do something just because your boss says so, which mean you can waste time proving your point.
SUCCESS STRATEGY: "Think about your reasons for doing a task,” says Gretchen Rubin, author of The Four Tendencies, about how we all cope differently with expectations. “Why are you bothering to do it, and what’s the most sensible, efficient way to get it done? Once you’ve justified it to yourself, you’ll find it easier to follow through.”
HOW TO FOCUS IN: Since you thrive on data, try timing how long it takes you to do certain tasks. “If you know it takes you 30 minutes to send 30 emails, set yourself a goal of doing it in 25 next time,” recommends Tate.
PROCRASTINATION PREVENTION: Look out for what Rubin calls “analysis paralysis.” Keep reminding yourself that sometimes you can have too much information and you can’t always wait for everything to be perfect before acting.
HELPING HAND: The Momentum add-on for your browser keeps you on track (and away from the Wikipedia rabbit hole) by asking you to set a single priority for the day and then reminding you of it each time you open a new tab.
Productivity Style: The Creative Genius
You’re the Beyoncé of the office: a big-picture thinker who is never not dreaming up ways to change the status quo—whether it’s inventing a new app or creating the Lemonade of investment portfolios for your clients.
SUCCESS STRATEGY: Visionaries are often bosses, so be sure to surround yourself with those who have complementary working styles (i.e., the Gayle to your Oprah: a details person to your dreaming self). True leaders also know that when their team shines, they shine. Empowering others to do more gives you space to focus on what you do best and allows them to grow—even if they don’t always get it right. “I used to have the mentality of ‘If you want things done right, you have to do them yourself,’” says Chantelle Gabino, general manager of Toronto bar Parts & Labour. “But you have to allow room for people to learn new things, grow and make mistakes.”
HOW TO FOCUS IN: If you tend to forget what’s on your plate because of all the great ideas pinging around your brain or because you’re in a really dynamic meeting, Christine Scott, managing director of the agency Community, recommends a simple assignment strategy. “When a task is as- signed [in a meeting], I write it down, put an asterisk and circle it if it’s for me. If it’s not for me, I put an asterisk and write the initials of who it’s for next to it.”
PROCRASTINATION PREVENTION: Don’t plan every hour of the day. Rigid schedules can be frustrating for you. Tate recommends thinking about time in terms of larger buckets, blocking off whole days for certain tasks. For example, Mondays are for administrative details, Tuesdays for researching, Wednesdays for team meetings. She also recommends that you work in 20-minute blocks before switching to a new task in order to stay engaged.
HELPING HAND: Take a painting class, dance workshop or any “OOO” activity that appeals to your inventive self. There’s evidence that people who have a creative outlet perform better at their jobs.