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Why You Need to Understand and Accept Your Productive Type A Tendencies

Why You Need to Understand and Accept Your Productive Type A Tendencies
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Are Type A tendencies all bad? If you have ever been accused of having a Type A personality you may cringe at the memory. However, there is good news. Fresh research shows there are a few traits you may want to adopt, even if you are not a classic Type A, if you hope to be hyper-productive.

Being called a Type A personality is usually not a compliment. After all, the term was coined in the 1950s by two cardiologists, Drs. Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman, who were pooling the traits shared by their cardiac patients, inspired by the nervous energy displayed in their waiting rooms. (They wore out the seats in the same impatient way.) These doctors noticed this and other similarities and together forged a breakthrough hypothesis for leading indicators of the disease.

However, there’s a new interpretation on the scene. The simplistic link between Type A behaviors and cardiac arrest has been shaken and a more nuanced picture has emerged. It’s simply the difference between causation and correlation – just because people who have a disease tend to drive cars, for example, doesn’t mean that driving a car causes the disease.

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There is actually a kind of Type A Behavior that is positive, while many others remain negative. Based on my review of the latest research literature, I have broken down and re-grouped these behaviors into three typical personalities so they can be more clearly understood, separated and managed.

Negative Traits

Type A Emotives
These are anxious, impatient people who display a certain hostility when they don’t get their way in life. They often experience high stress which affects the lives others: the kind of negativity which leads to the cardiac issues Friedman and Rosenman were looking for.

Many have ulcers, chew their food too fast and spend a lot of time shouting angrily in order to “motivate” others. They are easy to recognize (and avoid) but don’t see any problem with their way of doing business. Of course, they often pay the price.

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Type A Competitives
These obnoxious types are often bullies who induce stress in other people. Winning is most important to them– oftentimes, no matter what. They believe that “losers” are to be avoided. They love to keep score in public so that others can know how well they are doing.

These types rise quickly in companies, but often lose out when they continue to compete with their own subordinates even after they have “arrived.” The teamwork that’s so critical to success eludes them, which is why they often indulge in triathlons, marathons and other extreme, individual sports. Even when there is no competition, they’ll create one.

Positive Traits

Type A Productives

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These are time-conscious individuals who tend to be highly organized. They drive themselves hard, often ignoring their discomfort in order to produce results. Over-commitment is a reality as they believe in their power to adapt… with their high energy, they usually do so effectively. They are improvement-minded and are always looking for ways to get better using the latest technology and ideas — whatever may help them finish quickly… assignments, long articles and other people’s sentences.

While the definitions of these three types were originally bundled into a single whole, it’s better for us to understand them separately. Doing so allows us to accept and nurture our Type A Productive side while managing and mitigating our tendency to engage in the other two traits.

The fact is, Type A’s teach themselves to be as productive as they develop, starting in their teens when they begin seeing their efficiency as a tool to accomplish results. It’s the reason they love self-improvement opportunities: these are all the better for expanding their capacity to deliver in all areas of life.

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Of the three styles, Type A Productives run the highest risk of being misunderstood. The reason? They usually have at least a small slice of the two negative types as well, causing other to dismiss their attempts to be more productive. Unfortunately, the baby (high productivity) is often thrown out with the bathwater (stressful competitiveness).

If you have even a few Type A tendencies you don’t need lose the support and admiration of others. Keep on pushing for hero-level productivity, even as you amp up your interpersonal skills. Take the accusation of being a Type A personality for what it can be… a compliment.

Featured photo credit: imcreator.com via imcreator.com

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More by this author

Francis Wade

Author, Management Consultant

The New Lifehacking #7 – Why You Should Be Open to New Stuff, But Wary About Using It How To Manage A Post-College Productivity Dip Why You Need to Understand and Accept Your Productive Type A Tendencies The New LifeHacking #6 – Staying Away from Harmful Gadgets The New Lifehacking #5 – Tricking Yourself into Making the Changes You Need

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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