Do you ever wonder how you can become more productive and spend more time in “the zone”? This is something I have spent a lot of time not just thinking about but also researching. For years I thought if I just followed the “right” system, my output would skyrocket.
From studying a huge variety of time management and productivity systems I learned that I am meant to work on one thing at a time and complete tasks before moving on to new ones. I even bought specific diaries that would help me stick to the system, which they did for a few weeks, before I reversed back to my old ways. The only lasting result was that I felt wrong for not being systematic and wondered if I was qualified to be an Executive Coach if I couldn’t stick to a system.
Then something changed for me.
It was in the middle of last year when I did a test that reveals how you work best. It helps you know what you do when you are “in the zone” and free to do things the way you want. It is called the Kolbe A Index/Instinct test and only costs $49.95. You are asked 36 quick questions and then you get a summary report of your natural mode of operating. According to the philosophy behind this test, you have more energy and get more done, if you work in the way that instinctively suits you. It reveals your ideal action-mode.
And low and behold, you know what it told me? What I already knew!
It told me I am at my best when I am working on several things at once. It told me that I have a lot of initiator energy and it is great for me to jump from thing to thing. And even if it might look messy to others, it is how I thrive and am at my most productive and creative. That in fact, I am likely to procrastinate and get less productive if I have to follow a highly structured system.
The test basically told me everything about me when I work best! And for the first time in my life I really allowed myself to enjoy what I now call my jump-jump style.
So if you want to know how to be more productive, here is my advice:
Watch the days when you are at your best. (Hint – it is usually the days where you feel really happy and time just flies.) See what it is that is working for you on those days. And do more of that on more days.
Yes, it is really that simple. Watch how you start the day, how you move between tasks, what derails you and what gets you back on track. Let go of systems that don’t work for you. Stop trying to fit into the right way of doing things and do it the way that is right for you! You don’t have to wait for a test to do this.
I hereby give you permission: Do it your way! Work with what works for you.
So now, when my clients come to me asking about what time management system they should use, I tell them let’s design the system that is already working for you.
Really it is about making conscious what you already know.
And if you think doing the Kolbe A Instict test yourself would be helpful, you can click here to access it.
The test gives you scores in four action-modes: Fact Finder, Follow Through, Quick Start and Implementer. Each action-mode describes a cluster of behaviours and has a continuum. You are given a number from 1-10 in each of these action-modes. As an example, quick start is the action mode that deals with risk and unknown. At the low-end people want to bring stability and manage risk. At the high-end people innovate or experiment.
I score 7 in Quick Start which means when I am in “the zone” I am great at improvising, experimenting and coming up with new ideas. It is the also the action mode I use first when taking action. According to the test, I have 35% of my action-energy in Quick-Start. It is what helps me coach and facilitate as I can be in the moment and come up with something new that is needed.
The report also includes a short debrief about your natural communication and presentation style. One of the things it says about me is: “You are able to read audiences well, but following a script or getting locked into an audio-visual format limits your ability to go with the flow.” So true. People that hear me give a talk always comment on how impressed they are that I speak without a script, but the truth is, it just works better for me.
The test says my preferred action-modes are: Improvise, Explain, Retore, Adapt – in that order.
What do you know about yourself when you are at our best, following your natural way of doing things?
PS. In a recent Havard Business Review article Carson Tate reminds us that: “..companies need people of all types to remain competitive in the global marketplace.” So be you! Your way of doing things is needed! The next step is of course learning how to get along with people of a different working style, but that is subject for another time.