A habit is something you’ve learned, through repetition, to do without thinking. You know your personal habits—whether you do the dishes right away, or if you throw your clothes on the floor—but you aren’t always the same person at home and at work.
We put together this Productivity Quiz to help you identify what your work habits are. At the end of the quiz, you’ll see your Productivity Personality, which gives you personalized tips on how to be more productive by capitalizing on your good habits and eliminating your bad ones. Simply tally up the number of As, Bs, Cs, and Ds you answer and we’ll decipher your productivity paragon.
Whether you schedule every minute or go with the flow, you’ll leave with actionable feedback on how to make the most of your workday.
1. What’s the first thing you do when you get to work in the morning?
A. Read some industry blogs and ease my way into the workday.
B. Check my emails, answer a couple, and start on the day’s most pressing tasks.
C. Check my emails, answer all of them immediately, then make a comprehensive to-do list.
D. Try to get as much done as possible before lunch, so that I can have a relaxing afternoon.
2. When you get a project with a tight deadline, how do you feel?
A. Pumped! I love working fast against a deadline.
B. Stressed but I’m ready for it. I like doing what needs to get done.
C. Totally flustered! Unless I know about something far in advance, it throws a wrench in my day.
D. Okay. If my boss says it has to get done, I’ll do it.
3. Your boss walks over to your desk on Monday with a big list of tasks due at the end of the week. What are you thinking?
A. Sure. I’ll do them later.
B. I’ll drop everything and start on them right away.
C. I’ll add them to my packed to-do list.
D. Alright. Now I know exactly what I need to do for the week. Hopefully, I can get most of this done early.
4. What’s your favorite part of the workday?
A. Late afternoon. That’s when I get most of my work done.
B. Right after lunch. I feel so refreshed!
C. The morning, when I’m getting organized for the day.
D. When I get to go home and eat dinner.
5. Oh no! It’s Wednesday, and you’ve just woken up with a stomach virus. Other than physically ill, how do you feel?
A. A little worried—I put off a lot to the end of the week—but I’ll be able to get it done Thursday and Friday.
B. Sick days are unfortunate but necessary. I’ll be a little behind, but it’s okay—that’s why I stay on top of things.
C. Nervous and frustrated! It’s going to be impossible to finish my to-do list.
D. I’m sick. I should stay home. Plus, the day off from work is nice.
6. On Monday, you have a day-long retreat from work. Instead of doing your job, you’re going to be doing “team-building activities” with your co-workers. How do you feel?
A. Secretly excited. I get really invested in games.
B. A little iffy on games, but if it will help the team…
C. Nervous. It sounds like a good idea, but can I afford to lose a whole day?
D. Looking forward to it. Even if they’re corny, they’re definitely different than a regular day in the office.
7. How do you behave in company meetings?
A. Barely take any notes and mostly listen.
B. Take some notes and participate.
C. Act as the meeting’s scribe. After the meeting, you send out a comprehensive email, so everyone knows what they’re responsible for.
D. Take a few notes, and try to stay invested. It’s so easy to zone out during meetings.
8. When do you drink caffeine?
A. Whenever I really need that extra boost to get on my game.
B. In the morning. Occasionally a cup in the afternoon if it’s a busy day.
C. Usually twice per day, at regularly scheduled times. Once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
D. I need at least three cups to motivate me through the work day.
9. You and your co-worker decide you need to set up a meeting with a client. What do you do?
A. Let your co-worker do the work of setting up a calendar invite. Then, the day of the meeting, prepare extensively.
B. Send the calendar invite to set up the meeting. Then, take a few notes for yourself so you don’t go to the meeting unprepared.
C. Send the calendar invite to set up the meeting, along with an email detailing the meeting agenda. Then, prepare for the meeting itself.
D. Wait for your coworker to set up the calendar invite. Then, prepare for the meeting and meet with your co-worker briefly to ensure you’re on the same page.
10. In high school, what kind of student were you?
A. Always did well, but had a lot of late nights.
B. Pretty on top of things. High school was easy—college was when things became more difficult.
C. Immensely organized. Color-coded binders by subject. Always kept (and used) the agenda they gave out at the beginning of every year.
D. Did all the right stuff to get into college, but had a hard time caring about the material.
Mostly A’s: The Uber-Procrastinator
When you go to work, you go to work. When you’re racing against the clock, you’re the Flash. You get amped up and ready to go when your boss gives you a tight deadline, and you love the satisfaction of getting your work on time.
Tim Urban, popular blogger and self-proclaimed master procrastinator, did a TED Talk about procrastination, describing the concept of the “instant gratification monkey” battling the “rational decision maker.” This tug of war is ultimately ended by what he calls the “panic monster,” the part of your brain that summons that incredible last-minute speed and energy that procrastinators know so well.
Your productivity challenge is starting work further in advance. Even though you always get your work done on time— even when it’s down to the wire— working, in short, powerful bursts isn’t the system that’s best for your mind and body. It might be a useful skill when you’re finishing up a quarter’s work or executing emergency projects, but it’s unhealthy on an everyday basis.
Dr. Piers Steel, best-selling author of The Procrastination Equation, explains the science behind the procrastination cycle. Not only can procrastinating affect our health and kill our creativity, we can become addicted to it, too. When we get that “Oh no!” feeling that a deadline is coming up, our adrenaline kicks in. That’s why you feel so powerful racing against the clock. But if you rely on adrenal hormones enough, you need them to get your work done—like a caffeine or drug addiction.
Here’s how to make the most of your Productivity Personality using healthier habits:
- Eliminate distractions. Tools like RescueTime track your time on different applications so you can kick that habit of constantly checking your email. It also lets you block distracting websites after you’ve spent an allotted amount of time on them.
- Use a team accountability system. I Done This shares what you’ve done each day with your co-workers, and project management apps like Teamwork Projects lets your team assign you tasks and track when those tasks are finished. Use tools like these to stay accountable to your team on your least productive days—and impress on your hyper-productive ones.
Mostly B’s: The Priority Diluter
You love getting things done. You’re climbing the ladder in the workplace, taking on more and more responsibility. You make to-do lists sometimes. You work hard consistently. It feels like you’re doing your best—and everyone around you appreciates your efforts.
But just because you’re constantly doing work, doesn’t mean you’re doing the right work. Experts report a recognized phenomenon called “Priority Dilution.” The Priority Diluter completes smaller, more immediate tasks first, instead of focusing on those that will advance their company and their career.
The Priority Diluter is high achieving, and worries about small things slipping through the cracks—so they try even harder to stay on top of it all. In the process of making sure everything gets done, they don’t spend enough time on long-term personal and company-wide goals.
Here are two ways to make sure that your Productivity Personality is helping you be the best you can be:
- Remind yourself of the bigger picture. You can set up Boomerang for Gmail to send you an email on the first of every month to check in about how you’re working towards long-term goals.
- Automate the small stuff. You can use apps like Edison and Zapier to automate the easy things you do every day so you can spend more time working on the tasks that will advance your career.
Mostly C’s: The Obsessive Organizer
You’ve scheduled every minute of your day—for the next three months. You’re a note-taker, you make to-do lists, and sometimes you even color code. You’re valued at work for your thoughtfulness and conscientiousness. This high-energy organizing could take you right to the top, and is one of the most valued personality traits in an executive candidate.
So when something throws you off track, it’s disorienting. You have to finish an emergency project for your boss, so you don’t finish your daily to-do list, then you don’t finish your weekly to-do list, and all the sudden you’re in a stress spiral trying to catch up.
Stress produces cortisol, which can create deleterious effects on your brain, body, and your ability to focus. High levels of cortisol increase anxiety, damage the ability to form memories, and even weaken your immune system.
Even though the best-laid plans often go awry, here are a two ways to make sure that your Productivity Personality can combat the stress of being thrown off-schedule:
- Ready, Set, Pause. Amy Jo Martin founded “Ready, Set, Pause,” a movement (recommended by doctors) of putting your mind on pause for eight minutes per day to eliminate stress and be more mindful.
- Meditate with proven techniques. Harvard’s health blog offers six tried and true relaxation techniques that are doctor recommended to relive stress. These include focusing your breathing, performing progressive muscle relaxation, and using guided imagery and mindfulness, just to name a few.
Mostly D’s: The Assembly Liner
At work, you’re like a machine. When someone tells you to do something, it gets done, no questions asked. You like to get things off your plate quickly, and people at work value your efficiency.
But just because at work people feel good about you doesn’t mean you always feel good about work. You’re not alone—less than 25% of American employees feel engaged at work. While it’s easy for you to get your work done, it’s not always as rewarding as you would hope.
Finding ways to make work more rewarding will not only improve your everyday life, it will make you more productive as well. When we feel good, our brains release serotonin and dopamine. Those neurotransmitters enhance our brains’ learning capabilities, causing us to organize information more quickly, retain it for longer, and have a faster recall.
Here are two ways to make sure that your Productivity Personality is maximizing your engagement.
- Identify small wins. Using a “done” list like I Done This’s helps you celebrate the incremental goals you reach. This process of recognizing those small wins boosts dopamine levels, which causes us to want to achieve more—by getting more done at work.
- Regular feedback sessions. The Hawthorne Effect is a psychological phenomenon that states that people work harder and become more invested when they know someone is aware of what they’re doing — that someone is invested in them. Ask your boss for regular employee feedback sessions or professional development opportunities to feel more excited about your day-to-day.
Comment and let us know your results of our productivity quiz! How will you be more productive in the new year?
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