When it comes to becoming more efficient, there isn't a single solution that will cater to the masses. Instead, becoming more productive in all aspects of your life might involve some trial-and-error as you figure out what options best suit your personality and lifestyle. Carson Tate is the author of Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style, and she is making the search for personalized productivity solutions a little easier.
Tate is a coach, business consultant and professional organizer. She is well known for her expertise in workplace productivity, and has used her extensive research to pinpoint four distinct Productivity Styles, which most of us can fit under. She's even put together this quiz to help you figure out the types of strategies that will best suit your personality.
We talked to Tate about Work Simply, the ideology behind the Productivity Styles, and even about how to start taming your inbox.
1. What exactly does it mean to Work Simply?
When you work simply you personalize your productivity and employ work strategies that align with your own cognitive style, and plan and allocate effort in a way that suits your strengths and preferences. As you begin to personalize your productivity, there is a simplification that happens because you are able to eliminate and ignore productivity strategies, tools and methodologies that do not align with your cognitive style.
2. In your book, you've identified four Productivity Styles: Prioritizer, Arranger, Visualizer and Planner. What led you to these four distinct working styles, and how do these differentiations lead to higher levels of productivity?
In my work with clients and then during my graduate school research, I realized that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to productivity and that the popular emphasis on time management programs was fundamentally flawed. 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.
Instead, we need to personalize productivity—to employ work strategies that align with our own cognitive styles. Ironically, most of us do this unconsciously. After all, these are habitual patterns of perceiving, processing, and managing information that guide our behavior.
In graduate school I identified the four distinct work styles I call Productivity Style by studying and researching our habitual patterns for processing and managing time, tasks and projects. And, when you leverage your Productivity Style you are working with your natural instincts, instead of against them, which makes it easier to improve your effectiveness and efficiency.
3. What is one aspect of productivity that tends to get overlooked by most people? How would you change this mindset?
People tend to assume productivity is a one-size-fits all. This is not true. The latest app, prioritization tip or email management strategy will not work if it is not personalized for you, aligned with the way you think and process information. It will only create more frustration, inefficiency and ineffectiveness
4. Through your Email Boot Camp program, what have you found is the most common misdemeanor when it comes to handling the inbox?
The most common misdemeanor I have found through my Email Boot Camp program is reading email messages multiple times. For example, if you receive 100 emails a day and it takes you one minute to read each one, that is one hour and forty minutes of your day. Now, if you have to go back and reread them because you did not decide what you need to do with those email messages the first time you read them, the time you have spent on those one hundred emails is now over three hours. The goal is to read an email message and make a decision on your next action step. Stop rereading email messages.
5. What is your top productivity tip? The one aspect of your day that helps you harness and optimize your own productivity.
Routines. I have developed routines for almost every aspect of my day to reduce the amount of effort and decision making required by me. I want to conserve mental energy for my writing, teaching and coaching, not deciding what to eat for breakfast.
You can learn more about Tate and her coaching programs here.