by Josh Millar
We all have different work styles, especially when it comes to time management. Whether you’ve been operating naturally, or you’ve been actively trying to improve your skills, having a framework for understanding how you relate to time can be highly useful. This week, I wanted to share six different styles of managing one’s time. Maybe you’ll fit one perfectly, or maybe you’ll have elements of several. The goal isn’t to fit into a box. It’s to better understand how we work so that we can pinpoint opportunities to improve. Let’s dive into the different styles:
This style of time management goes hand in hand with feeling busy. Hoppers tend to work on multiple things at once and switch between tasks before finishing one. This lets them get involved with many different things, but it isn’t usually conducive to productivity. As those different tasks start to pile up, it can become difficult to stay organized, meet deadlines, and follow through. For those with a hopper time-management style, getting organized and minimizing distractions is key.
This style is the opposite of the hopper. Instead of constantly moving between tasks, people in this work style are consumed by the task at hand. This can produce high-quality work, but it can also increase stress and allow other important things to fall through the cracks. These people often feel like they can’t make it through their daily to-do list. Time-blocking can be really useful here. If you tend towards this style, you may need to set an alarm to remind you it’s time to switch tasks.
Big-picture thinkers are great at looking at overarching strategies and general plans. They can be highly creative and quick to spot smart solutions to challenges. The downside is that these thinkers often have trouble when it comes to details. They spend the majority of their time focusing on vision and strategy and not enough on the smaller details necessary to execute. For big-picture thinkers, routines and collaborating with more detail-focused individuals can help them achieve a balance.
For perfectionists, it’s all in the details — usually too much in the details. Unlike big-picture thinkers, perfectionists spend the majority of their time focused on the small things, sometimes at the expense of the larger vision. They may miss a deadline, for example, because they stall their progress seeking perfection on a single step. They also tend to have very high standards for themselves and rarely say no when someone asks them to take on a project. Prioritizing and saying no when necessary are two important strategies for perfectionists.
This style of time management often means operating without a plan. They enjoy the feeling of acting spontaneously and dread the idea of a rigidly fixed schedule. These people tend to operate well in the face of unexpected challenges, but they often struggle with deadlines and organization in their day-to-day work. Incorporating some routines into their lives and working to design a schedule that is clear but flexible can help them to succeed.
These people will often say, ‘I work really well under pressure’. And while that can be a great skill to have, you don’t want it to become your norm. People with this time-management style depend on that pressure for motivation to complete a task. This can lead to rushing to finish a project, producing lower-quality work, and elevating your stress levels. Cliff-hangers can often benefit from working to get an accurate sense of how long certain tasks take them and scheduling windows in their calendar to work on longer-term projects in advance.
Understanding how you work can give you some great insights into where you excel and where you may need to improve. With the awareness you gain, you can tweak your time-management practices to improve productivity. Which style or styles resonate with you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.