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Rethink Productivity: How to Use Your Personality to Reach Your Goals

Rethink Productivity: How to Use Your Personality to Reach Your Goals

Dear Kirsten,

Reading through your descriptions, I think your guess is spot on. I’m a yoga teacher, and the best hours of my day are the ones I spend helping my students to open up and relax. Over the summer I had the idea to teach at one of the local lakes, first on the shore and then out in the water on paddle boards. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s a whole new dimension when you know you won’t hurt yourself if you fall! Plus you put new stresses on your muscles and gain additional strength… but that’s not really what I’m writing about, is it?

My goals… now that it’s getting cooler I can’t do the classes on the lake anymore, but they were a huge hit. I want to offer them again next summer, along with more traditional ground based classes. Longer term, it would be amazing to have a building on the lake shore where I could offer classes year round. Imagine a wall of windows overlooking the water, such a perfect place to find peace…

My commitments, well, I have my two daughters to provide for. Their father moved overseas and hasn’t seen them in years. My parents need help around the house occasionally, and I teach a yoga class at one of the homeless shelters downtown. Most of my income comes from teaching yoga and dance at various studios around town, which mostly covers the bills. I was able to pay off the last of my credit card debt by offering the water yoga classes, but that income stream is gone until next year.

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So I guess my goal is to open my own yoga studio on the lake without letting down the people who depend on me. Can my personality type help me do that?

Signed,

G

Dear G,

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In a word, yes.

You are sitting on top of an amazing resource, thanks to your personality. As a primary Environmental, you have a giant network of people for whom you’ve given your time and energy, and they’re just waiting for you to tell them what they can do to help you in return. Think about it – when you teach classes, you connect with your students, right? You get to know them, their strengths and weaknesses, and you see them regularly. I’ll bet a lot of them helped to make your water yoga sessions such a success – they registered for them, told their friends about them, and generally helped spread the word. Now think of what you could do if you approached that network with the end goal of building your yoga studio on the lake. You’ve touched hundreds of lives, G! And your envisioned studio is hardly selfish – it’s a foundation from which you can touch hundreds more!

So let your network help you build this studio. Tell people about your idea. Listen to what they have to say. Perhaps bring together a few groups for brainstorming about how you might get from where you are to where you want to go. When the web designer in your Wednesday morning class offers to put up a quick site for you, say yes! When the wife of an architect convinces her husband to draw up some blueprints, thank them both! I am a firm believer that the universe responds when we commit – but also that we make our own luck by creating a life that gives the universe something to work with.

Now, let’s address your secondary Fantastical type. I’m guessing that is where your water yoga idea might have originated. The Fantastical can pull together concepts that would never be considered by other types, and the results can be breathtaking. Now, the Fantastical also has some issues with organization, and your Environmental type isn’t going to help much when it comes to marshaling all the resources that your network can command. If you can’t handle the logistics of bringing your vision into reality, all the goodwill you’ve built up will disappear pretty quickly. You have two options to avoid that fate.

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1) Find someone in your network who can handle the details. You’ll want this person to be reasonably close to you, and someone that you trust, because they’re going to be handling communications, money, even offers of supplies and labor. You may want to bring this person on as a partner in your business, because they’ll deserve the recognition. This person is likely to be Structural, or possibly Analytical.

2) Get a giant whiteboard or chalkboard. Spend some time with a small group thinking through the steps you’ll need to take to get to your goal, and then divide up the board in such a way that you can keep track of both the steps and the people who have offered to help with them. This board will need to become an integral part of your life, because only by keeping it visible, checking it daily, and updating it regularly will you be able to stay on top of all the moving pieces and direct the efforts of others on your behalf.

Reaching your goal will take a lot of work – that’s true for any goal worth achieving. But tell me, what sounds easier to you: finding, screening and hiring all the contractors you’ll need and trying to get a bank loan to finance the studio, or reaching out to your network to see what they can provide and letting some of the good you’ve put out into the world come back to help you achieve your studio?

With Love,

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Kirsten

Now it’s your turn – how can you use your personality to smooth your path to your goals?

Have a productivity problem? Tell Kirsten all about it and get a solution!

Featured photo credit:  soccer ball via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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