“He who knows others is wise, he who knows himself is enlightened” – Lao Tzu

One of the first steps in change is awareness — understanding how and why you do things the way you do.

But why is it important to know yourself?

Awareness of self…empowers.

It creates space and understanding for decisions to be made. Decisions on how to move forward or decisions on how to change. Self-awareness gives us a starting point, a place to work from.

In Sunny Schlenger and Roberta Roesch’s book “How to be organized in spite of yourself”, they explain that everybody can be identified by a different operational style and knowing what your personal style is can be a good starting place if you feel the need to organize your work life.

In the book, people are classified by the following Time Styles:

Hopper: A person who generally has many projects on the go at once and likes to works on all simultaneously. They constantly jump from task to task without finishing any of them.

Perfectionist Plus: The Perfectionist Plus gets so involved in their projects and believe they can do everything right that they rarely finish a project on time. Even when they do finish a job, they are usually dissatisfied with the outcome.

Allergic to Detail: They would much rather formulate the plans than carry them out. This type is very weak on follow through.

Fence Sitter: The Fence Sitter leaves most things to chance because they are incapable to making a decision and worry whether their decisions will be the correct ones.

Cliff Hanger: These people thrive on excitement, delay everything to the last minute and usually need a deadline to complete anything.

Identify your own style. When I identified myself and my style of working, I realized that it wasn’t so much a character flaw as I had previously believed, but a recognizable style that probably one-fifth of the population of the world share with me. Knowing this allowed me to (firstly) not be so hard on myself but it also put me in a position of power to allow me to learn to work with it.

Here are a few tips to help you work better with your each style

Hopper:Slow down. Eliminate distractions and interruptions.Do high priority tasks when you have most energy. Break projects down into mini-goals.

Perfectionist Plus: Identify and focus on your highest priorities. Anything else does not need high attention to detail. Learn to say “no” and to delegate.

Allergic to detail: Create simple, basic routines, set reminders, break up tasks into smaller goals, and schedule tasks.

Fence Sitter: Understand that there really are no bad decisions. Break down decisions into small steps, pinpoint your fears, and get familiar with your gut feeling.

Cliff Hanger: Schedule time for tasks. Become aware of how long they really take, check your to-do list regularly to ensure you are not procrastinating on important tasks.

How do you spend your time?

Another important factor is to see how you currently spend your time. We all work hard — we spend many hours each day on tasks and projects that need to be done.

But are there tasks that could be eliminated?

Are we perhaps spending too much time on certain jobs? Identifying how you spend each moment of the day can be very enlightening.

When the end of the work day comes and you think you know how the day was spent, do you remember that you spent twenty minutes chatting to your work colleagues about the football game or the fact that you spent thirty minutes on social media? What about the time spent at two meetings that didn’t really affect your job? Could you have read the meeting minutes rather than attend it personally?

Analyzing how the hours of each day were spent will allow you to make better decisions about your time going forward.

This can be done by using a paper time sheet where you detail all of the things that you spent time on during the day or you can download an electronic time-sheet from the Internet that will monitor all that you do on your computer during the day.

Know Thyself

When you discover more about your personal style and how you currently spend your time you will be in a more powerful position to make more informed decisions about how you can work at your best.

As for my style, it turns out that I am both a Hopper and Allergic to Detail. Confusion, disorder, chaos, disarray were all words that described me in the past. Getting organized has been life-changing for me. It has been the facilitator of my personal success — and believe me when I say that if I can do it, anyone can!

(Photo credit: Document folders sorted via Shutterstock)

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