Understanding How You Work

Everyone has different working styles, but the main three are what I call plodders, sprinters, and chaotics. Plodders are the type that when they get an assignment they can set out right away getting to work, drawing up multiple drafts and working diligently along. Sprinters have one goal, and that is to complete everything as quickly as they can at the beginning so that they have more time to relax and to tweak their work here or there if it needs it. The last group are the chaotics – they thrive on high pressure situations and absolute deadlines in order to find their inspiration, the chaos that comes from last minute situations.

These categories popped into my head after reading an article in the Harvard Business Review blog titled Managing Myself: Times Up , which discusses how to motivate yourself. The article is written from the perspective of a chaotic – someone who thrives on pressure and to get the creative juices flowing. Instead of waiting for that dire situation – what if you were to create that similar atmosphere? If deadlines too far advance are too abstract, what if you were to break it down to a mini deadline of one week, or even one day. If its the nervous energy that drives you, then find ways to create that energy now, like pacing every 15 minutes or listening to chaotic music.

There are a few different ways to get your started. One technique is mindmapping – I have a friend who plastered all the walls in her house with them. Others are better with Gantt Charts so that they can work towards goals. I use a variety of techniques depending on the situation – which can be anything from breaking my creative sessions to 30-60 min segments, to setting mini-deadlines. What works best for you?