a certain kind of creativity

Creative people = humans who solve problems.

The 4 Types of Productivity Styles

Within weeks of starting my first job out of college, I was sent to the in-house time management training program. I dutifully attended the class and used the planner they provided as instructed. But as the weeks went by, I noticed that my productivity hadn’t improved. As I looked around at my colleagues, I noticed that many of them were also struggling with the system.
The reason is simple: There is no one-size-fits-all approach to productivity. Instead, we need personalized approaches. This means employing work strategies that align with our own cognitive styles, and allocating efforts in a way that suits our strengths and preferences.
Ironically, most of us do this unconsciously. After all, these are habitual patterns of perceiving, processing, and managing information that guide our behavior. However, because we’re inundated with “proven” programs, tips and tools (backed by a bevy of consultants, academics, and practitioners), we often go against our natural instincts. The first step in making your productivity personal is to identify your Productivity Style, so that you can work in sync with your natural inclinations. Each one has its own strengths and preferred tools based on those powers.
Illustration by Oscar Ramos Orozco.
Illustration by Oscar Ramos Orozco.

The Prioritizer

A Prioritizer is that guy or gal who will always defer to logical, analytical, fact-based, critical, and realistic thinking. To increase her efficiency, she will time how long it takes to complete certain tasks in order to more accurately plan her days and weeks. She has never met a goal she did not like and applies a laser-like focus to ensure she accomplishes her goals.
She is so focused on execution that she doesn’t spend much time or energy on howit is completed. At times she has a tendency to be controlling and rigid, and may be known in the office for her drive and competitiveness. She hates chit-chat, missing data, or oversharing of anything personal. Her emails often are only a few sentences or if possible, just a few letters.

Contributions to the team:

  • Analyzing data
  • Critical analysis and logical problem solving
  • Goal orientation, consistency, and decisiveness 


Illustration by Oscar Ramos Orozco.
Illustration by Oscar Ramos Orozco.

The Planner

The Planner is the team member who thrives on organized, sequential, planned, and detailed thinking. Though at first glance he may appear as a Prioritizer, the Planner will immerse themselves in the details of a project, while the Prioritizer focuses on only the details that help him complete the project quickly and accurately. The Planner has never met a calendar or project-planning tool that he did not like.
He is not known for his spontaneity, and in fact has missed opportunities due to his resistance to deviate from plans. He has been known to write something on his to-do list that has already been completed, just so he can cross it off. He thrives on schedules and action plans, and is known for his timely follow-ups. He wants you to get to the point; he’ll read the fine print himself later. He hates attending a meeting without an agenda. His emails are detailed, often including bullet points and clearly stated next-action steps.

Contributions to the team:

  • Action orientation and practicality
  • Finding overlooked flaws in plans or processes
  • Organizing and maintaining data and project plans 


Illustration by Oscar Ramos Orozco.
Illustration by Oscar Ramos Orozco.

The Arranger

An Arranger prefers supportive, expressive, and emotional thinking. She is the ultimate team player and excels at partnering with colleagues to get work done. She is a natural communicator and deftly facilitates project meetings. She hates when people lack that personal touch or rely too heavily on data or facts. Arrangers are talkers; they love stories, eye-to-eye contact, expressing concern for others, and asking questions about the way a project or task helps others. They have been known to need to institute a personal chat budget, only allowing a few minutes of chit chat during work hours, and have to avoid adding one more person to the cc: line on their email messages. 

Contributions to the team:

  • Anticipating how others will feel and understanding their underlying emotions
  • Facilitating team interaction
  • Persuading and selling ideas 


Illustration by Oscar Ramos Orozco.
Illustration by Oscar Ramos Orozco.

The Visualizer

A Visualizer prefers holistic, intuitive, integrating, and synthesizing thinking. He thrives under pressure and is easily bored if he is not juggling multiple, diverse projects. A Visualizer focuses on the big-picture and broad concepts making connections. At times, he has a tendency to overlook details and tends to value the possibilities over process. His excessive spontaneity and impulsiveness can lead to breakthrough ideas, but can also derail project plans at times. A Visualizer has probably not seen the surface of their desk in years because if something is out of sight, it is out of mind. And, his emails tend to be long, filled with concepts and ideas.

Contributions to the team:

  • Innovation; serving as a catalyst for change
  • Creative problem solving
  • Ability to envision the future, recognize new opportunities and integrate ideas and concepts 
These profiles aim to guide you towards which tools will work best for you, so don’t worry if you find yourself spanning two or more styles. Try tools from each, mix and match—it’s about what actually sticks with you in the end that is important.

Your productivity must be personal. And the moment you discover your Productivity Style as it fits into your personality and instincts, you’re working smarter in a way that fits you. From there, you will begin to work simply and live fully.

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