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About a year ago, I decided to spend more time figuring out how to be more productive. On paper, it looks like I've had a relatively good run on the productivity front. I was given a lot of responsibilities at a young age: at twenty-four I ran the homepage of The Huffington Post and at twenty-eight I became the Executive Director of Digital at The Washington Post. My final act in media was to then co-launch NowThis as its Managing Editor before cofounding PowerToFly.
The truth is, that even though I'm a self-motivated person who can work for endless hours to launch media startups, I'm also very driven by outside pressures. I had great bosses who knew exactly how to push that button for me when I was at Huffington Post, The Washington Post and NowThis (same boss I had at Huffington Post).
I realized this after reading Gretchen Rubin's book "Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Everyday Lives." I received the book from an agent who wanted me to write about PowerToFly and all my experiences as a young woman in media. Despite the learnings from the book, everyday I question if I have the right productivity habits to see a book-project through completion.
Despite my own issues (and too many still rest in self-doubt), for anyone wanting to figure out how to be more productive, I highly recommend Rubin's book. The one part that struck me most was a breakdown of people's "Four Tendencies". I've added a link to a quiz you can take, so you know which tendency applies to you.
I'm an "Obliger". I need to meet people's outer expectations. I need pressure from another person often. So now my cofounder and team members serve that purpose. There's nothing more motivating for me than when one of them tells me I can be doing a better job (maybe one of those days I'll reveal some examples on that front). This was the case for me throughout school. If a teacher told me I needed to step-it-up then I'd rise to the challenge. If I didn't get any feedback - preferably negative - then I'd coast along.
After four years or primarily working from home, I decided three weeks ago that having my cofounder and coworkers put pressure on me wasn't sufficient enough for me to be productive. So I joined a co-working space near my house in Brooklyn called "Friends Work Here". Obviously no one from Friends is telling me to move faster on a sales pitch for PowerToFly, but being in the company of others is enough for me to not Google aimlessly during the day (people do look at your screen, despite their best intentions). I also love being able to chat with people in the shared kitchen about a project I'm working on. A little validation goes a long way - even if they validate the idea isn't so great.
Another way to test personality is through an Enneagram Test. I'll get into this more in a future post, but I now ask everyone on my team to take it. It's a thirty minute task and it not only helps you understand your work personality, but it also clarifies what types of people you work best with. I'm an "eight" and love working with other "eights". But that doesn't mean I don't benefit from working with other personality types. Because of the Enneagram Test I know understand how to work better with personalities that aren't a direct match to mine.
In the months since I've had a better read on my personality, not only have I been able to refocus where I can be most productive, but I've also re-calibrated how I talk to and manage people at PowerToFly. So find some time and take the Enneagram or Four Tendencies quiz - either will save you time in the long run.
The Four Tendencies Quiz From Gretchen Rubin (click on the image)
Of everything I learned about habits and human nature from working on my book Better Than Before, the most challenging thing I figured out -- and the insight I'm most proud of -- is my Four Tendencies framework. (See below for a quick overview.) It took me months of rumination to make sense of everything […]
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