In today's economic landscape, it's more important than ever for businesses to accomplish more with less; a process known as boosting productivity. Productive employees output more work per specific unit of time than less productive employees. It is this increased efficiency that makes the business money.
But keeping employees productive is hard work. Why? Because productivity is primarily an inside job. You can't force it on someone. It comes from within a person and, essentially, is a measure of their motivation to close down tasks within a clearly defined timeframe.
Some people have more of this intrinsic motivation than others. Those with a Judging preference tend towards scheduling every minute of the day and prefer to complete tasks in a methodical, pre-planned order. Perceivers, on the other hand, typically struggle to get things together in terms of managing their time. They may bring great enthusiasm, spontaneity and flexibility to the workplace, but those contributions cannot easily be measured in terms of to-do lists, timeframes and due dates - the conventional systems for measuring productivity.
If you are a Perceiver struggling to make the railroad run on time, it's worth tweaking your own work style preferences rather than trying to conform to the Judging measures of efficiency. Here are some Perceiver-friendly time management tools that may help you get out of the productivity rut.
1. Use lists to your advantage
Lists can be a powerful tool for Perceivers if you let go of the idea that time is fixed and manageable, and start treating it as fluid and available. There's simply no point trying to work through a stifling to-do list, but you can create a rolling list of tasks that you might enjoy completing at some point in the future.
When preparing your list, include your "must-do" tasks but also your "could-do" and "wouldn't it be great if ..." plans. It doesn't matter if these goals are long or short-term, large or small. You can even include social commitments and extracurriculars. Allowing yourself to engage in a fun activity can really help augment your creativity if you feel dragged down by everyday work commitments.
The idea is to complete everything on your list but, crucially, you are not required to complete tasks in any particular order. Simply start with the task that you feel inspired to tackle at that moment in time. Juggle things around if you need to accommodate an urgent task, restructuring your priorities as the unexpected happens and deadlines change.
If the rolling list does not empower you, another option is to create a "have done" list to celebrate all the things you've accomplished that day. Taking stock of your successes will give you an energy boost and motivate you to achieve even more than you thought you could.
2. Use energy wisely
People with a Perceiving preference usually work within short bursts of energy. You can get a prodigious amount accomplished in a relatively short space of time when you harness these energy spikes, but may burn out if you force yourself to focus on one task for too long.
The Pomodoro technique is one of the best-known productivity hacks for people who, like most Perceivers, prefer to work in short bursts. The technique is simple. For every task throughout the day, allocate a short increment of time and take breaks periodically to keep your mind fresh and focused. Pomodoro purists suggest working for 25 minutes, taking a break, and then working again. But if 10 to 15 minutes is all you can handle, go with that and extend the time if you're on a roll.
3. Block the interruptions
Perceivers find it very difficult to regain focus once it is lost, so it's vital that you set barriers against intrusions that might interrupt your flow. Don't instantly give people your attention because you think they deserve it. When it's time to get down to business, turn off the phone, tune out digital distractions, close the door, and put up a "do not disturb" sign - whatever it takes to keep you in your state of high mental energy for as long as you can sustain it.
4. Schedule thinking time
Perceivers think about various aspects of the project for quite a while before demonstrating any observable work effort. At some point in time, everything comes together and the work product is beautifully and entirely complete, often right at the last minute. But if you don't allow yourself sufficient thinking time, then you won't ever form a truce with your deadline. So plan to spend the majority of your time engaged in the activities, thoughts and conversations that generate most of your results.
5. Get help and get accountable
Perceivers sometimes need external motivation to guide them through periods of procrastination when willpower alone is not enough to keep them on track with a task. So why not ask a friend or colleague to hold you accountable for your goals? Just tell your "accountabuddy" what you are going to do then report back on what you've achieved. Simple, but a great motivator.
6. Flex your Judging muscles (but only when you have to)
If you really want to be productive as a Perceiver, you will have to flex your Judger muscles occasionally. And yes, it will be challenging. But sometimes you just have to play the game, hit the mid points of a project and adhere to the standards set up by the organization.
A good trick is to work against your type when you need to, but allow yourself to be loose and freewheeling whenever it's acceptable. And let your results speak for themselves. You may miss one or two deadlines but you will pretty much always come through brilliantly in a way that i-dotting, milestone-plotting Judgers often can't.
So what about you? Do you follow the tried-and-true productivity techniques? Or have you found a system that works just for you?