6 Tips to Help Perceivers Overcome the Productivity Slump

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?

Molly Owens

Molly Owens is the founder and CEO of Truity. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley and holds a master's degree in counseling psychology. She began working with personality assessments in 2006, and in 2012 founded Truity with the goal of making robust, scientifically validated assessments more accessible and user-friendly.

Molly is an ENTP and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she enjoys elaborate cooking projects, murder mysteries, and exploring with her husband and son.

Comments

Dr. Steve Schwartz (not verified) says...

The timing of this couldn't be more exquisite!

I am an INTP. So, I struggle with my time management and increasing demands, especially when there is no deadline for accomplishing something.

Well, I found myself creating a "rolling to do" list just yesterday, and broken down by "normal" demands and "urgent" demands. I had to laugh when I read this post!

Greg M (not verified) says...

Hi

really enjoyed your creative suggestions
that is absolutely how I work as an INFP
I do go back and forth quite a bit between Perceiving and Judging - have to in the IT business
Great article

thanks, Greg Michelson

Guest (not verified) says...

As an INFP who is now completely done trying to fit into the neurotypical working world after decades of trying to do what is recommended in this article, I'm sorry to say that while some of these tips may work in the short run, eventually you will break down. You simply can't fit a square peg in a round hole. It's easier to do this when you are younger, but when you get older, forget it. I believe most INFPs wind up working freelance. I did. Most INFPs are artists and should be encouraged to follow their hearts every step of the way, from as young an age as possible. The money will have to be worked out, and will eventually. If INFPs are brought up with love, warmth, and support, they will succeed.

Terry Gersemehl (not verified) says...

I find myself doing "freelance" work more often than not or short term assignments. I like the variation more than getting stuck in the same old same old. In many ways I am still trying to find myself in a world that I don't seem to fit into. I like my space, am very "people friendly" and like who I am more than just trying to fit into a mold that in not me. Life is good when it all seems to work out. I am a "happy" person most of the time.

Guest (not verified) says...

I am a very strong ENFP but I am 54 years old and have learned to flex my judging muscle and so am able to maintain a very steady output of work for 55 to 60 hours per week without much of a need for taking brakes. I think that as we age and develop better work habits within time constraints, this capacity grows. I work as a psychotherapist and see 50-53 patientss per week. I find that each person that I meet with is a whole world of possibilities and I can use extraverted intuition paired with the axillary function of introverted feeling all day long and my work is energizing. I think that receivers like me work really well on a schedule and within time constraints if our work is inspiring to us.

Kathleen Stallings (not verified) says...

Acknowledge and monitor stress levels
Some stress can be a catalyst necessary to complete work. Too much stress, especially from different sources can sneak up on Perceivers and paralyze them.

Limit choices
Having too many choices from which to choose can lead to not making any choices. Separate possible from probable

Ben Wiles (not verified) says...

As an INTP, I often think ALOT before I can start any project. I have to examine it from various angles and plot the steps out visually in my mind before mustering the energy to even begin. That does not assure I will finish but this article pointing out the need for time to think about the project really hits home.

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