Drive, Drift or Develop? The Different Productivity Types

The main thing that marks the Developer is that they are comfortable making forward progress even in the midst of uncertainty. Even in the midst of their work they are perpetually scanning the horizon for new insights, new opportunities, and new ways of approaching their work.

Todd Henry of The Accidental Creative breaks down three different productivity types – the Driver, the Drifter, and the Developer.

Drivers are motivated by the task at hand. They want to get stuff done, nose to the grindstone.

Drifters are multitaskers of life, diffusing their focus on many different things.

The Developer involves a balancing act of perspective, fostering focus while allowing drifting and dreaming.

Whatever productivity type you tend to be, try to actively go into Developer Mode and take some time to see both the forest and the trees.

Which productivity type are you?  

Solve It While You Walk

As the Romans are supposed to have said: solvitas perambulum – ‘solve it while you walk.’

Harry Brennan, who found that a good walk turned on his mind’s light bulb when it came to his game development project:

You never know what you can come up with – and it may even help you avoid some deep technical problems altogether and save large amounts of time, simply by allowing you to take a different design decision.

A Walk

When people don’t take enough breaks, their creativity, and productivity decline. Humans are not designed to be sedentary. We come with our own mobile application. They’re called legs. Use them to jumpstart your brain!

The Peak Time for Everything

A growing body of research suggests that paying attention to the body clock, and its effects on energy and alertness, can help pinpoint the different times of day when most of us perform our best at specific tasks, from resolving conflicts to thinking creatively.

Sue Shellenbarger explores The Peak Time for Everything for WSJ.

Some takeaways: Nap around 2pm. Tired times make for better open-ended thinking. And retweeting chances increase between 3-6 pm.

Circadian and natural rhythms, and thus peak times for doing stuff, depend on the individual. Read on for some pretty interesting ideas on how to set your activity to your inner clock.

Collaboration is Noisy

When did work become so noisy?

I don’t just mean the ambient noise, that clickity-clackity typing, strangely noticeable chewing, annoying finger tapping, and chit-chatting hubbub of an open floor plan office. I’m also talking about the information and social inundation invading our work life, the buzzes and pings, the tweets and likes, the emails and comments, the meetings and chats.


Our notion of productivity has become imbalanced toward focusing on the inbox of our thought process — input, information, inspiration. I can feel productive after scanning tweets, reading articles, even having an inspiring conversation, but if I don’t take time to think and process, if I don’t actually turn the input into something, that feeling is illusory.

Ultimately, productivity requires producing, creativity creating. It sounds so simple and obvious, but it has been easy to forget these days that we need solitude, quiet and time.

Read more

Maira Kalman and the Creative Process

You also have to have perseverance – and maybe that’s the hardest thing, to persevere and to believe that what you’re doing is worth doing – and to do it, rather than talking about doing it.

Maira Kalman talks to 99u about work and overcoming the challenges of the creative process. Her daily routine expressly involves avoiding work: “Avoiding work is the way to focus my mind.” Kalman’s wisdom is endless.

Jack White Talks Inspiration, Creativity and Work Ethic


Jack White, on inspiration, creativity, and work ethic:

Inspiration and work ethic — they ride right next to each other…. Not every day you’re gonna wake up and the clouds are gonna part and rays from heaven are gonna come down and you’re gonna write a song from it. Sometimes, you just get in there and just force yourself to work, and maybe something good will come out.