In today's labor market, maximizing your productivity is more important than ever. Whether you're trying to survive a round of layoffs or just working with fewer support staff than usual, making the most of your time is essential. However, maximizing productivity is something we all do in different ways. Some of us are inclined to micromanage our time, scheduling every minute of the day and adhering closely to lists and schedules. If you're familiar with personality type concepts, you probably recognize these people as Judging types.
The rest of us, the Perceivers, don't do so well with lists and schedules. In fact, trying to implement these traditional time management strategies can actually undermine a Perceiver's productivity. So what's a Perceiver to do when time is short and stress is high? If you're a Perceiving type, you'll benefit more from remembering your own work style preferences, rather than trying to conform to a Judging style of working. Here are a few tips:
1. Rethink lists. You've probably been taught that a to-do list is a good way to structure your tasks and make sure everything gets done. If you're like most Perceivers, this little sales pitch makes you want to run far, far away! Nothing undermines a Perceiver's motivation more than the concept of having to do tasks methodically, in a pre-planned order. However, lists can still be of tremendous help if you rethink their purpose.
Perceiving types should have a long list of tasks, large and small, long and short-term. This is not a to-do list; think of it more as a may-do list. Although everything on the list has to get done, you're not required to proceed through it in any particular order. Rather, when it's time to get to work, you'll choose the task from the list that you feel most motivated and inspired to work on. In the absence of a strict schedule, Perceivers too often find themselves wasting time deciding what to attack next. Having a "may-do" list helps you to be productive on your own terms.
2. Keep it interesting. Many Perceivers hate to do something the same way twice; standard operating procedures are the bane of their existence. If this is the case, don't force yourself to drudge through a task the same old way. If finding another path to the end result makes you more excited to do something, then do it!
Recognize, however, that many people will tell you that you're wasting time "reinventing the wheel." These people are probably Judgers. Don't invite criticism by spending more time on tasks than you should, but also remember that for many Perceivers, tasks are more easily and quickly accomplished when you're allowed to do them your own way. Following an established method often takes longer because you're not motivated to do it.
3. Act like a Judger, but only when you have to. There are some areas where the typical workplace is biased to a Judging point of view, and there's not much you can do about it. If you're going to be a highly valued employee, you must be on time for meetings, turn in projects by the deadline, and adhere to standards set up by the organization. Know that you'll chafe against some of this---for instance, Perceivers often have trouble following rules that seem arbitrary---and cut yourself some slack. Follow the Judgers when you need to, but when you have control over the way you work, make sure you're allowing yourself the flexibility and spontaneity that you crave. When you don't have to plan ahead, don't. And if all else fails, just make sure that your time away from work is as loose and free-wheeling as you can make it!