How each of us thinks and learns is implicit to our productivity. Our cognitive styles influence our individual behavior, work performance, decision making and information processing.
“Individual productivity is when we prioritize work responsibilities, plan ways to meet the work objective and allocate time in an effort to affect work performance, says Carson Tate, managing partner at Working Simply, a management consulting firm. But there is no universal learning style," Tate says. There are right- and left-brain thinkers, making up a concept called the Whole Brain Model.
Tate used the model to identify four learning style personas. Customized for each style, this is her advice on establishing time management tools:
The Prioritizer: Effective at being efficient.
· Base decisions on facts and rationality
· Exceptional problem solver
· Excellent at critical analysis
· Doesn’t like to waste time
· Hates excessive chatter
· Doesn’t do personal feelings at the workplace
Your time management advice: Because you are analytical, Tate suggests organizing yourself accordingly. Time how long it takes to complete your routine tasks every day. Then start each day with your highest priorities time-wise, and organize projects you can complete in your downtime.
The Planner: Plans time to complete tasks; accurate at project planning.
· Decisions based on priorities
· Step-by-step actions
· Loves lists
· Hates to not have an agenda
Your time management advice: The key for the planner is don’t overplan and fill up your entire day with activity. Instead schedule open and buffer time. Be considerate of fluidity and flexibility in your plans.
The Arranger: Encourages teamwork to maximize output; intuitively feels how to manage with time.
· Supportive, open and friendly
· Team player
· Uses intuition
· Good listener
· Gets work done with and through people
· Organizes using maintained, detailed lists
· Uses intuition with both time and with co-workers
· Does not like data because it’s dry and cold
Your time management advice: Know your attention span and plan around it. You love people and connecting, which can potentially hurt your work. So schedule specific time in the day to connect and interact with people.
The Visualizer: Works quickly; multitasker; sees the big picture.
· Likes playing with ideas
· List making
· Loves possibilities: What’s next?
· Can manage and juggle many projects and tasks at once
· Hates repetition, lack of flexibility and too many rules
Your time management advice: Ask yourself, What is the best use of my time right now? Set firm yet realistic deadlines. Keep your calendar visual at all times and stick to simple, basic time frames.
“Personal productivity” is Tate’s biggest factor in determining the best techniques and tools to maximize productivity and time management.
The right technique for you also depends on corporate culture. Learning styles in an advertising agency compared to those at an engineering firm will be more heavily populated with right- or left-brain learners, for example.
And how we develop our styles is “50 percent nurture and 50 percent nature,” says Tate. Our learning styles do not change over time but can shift as we advance in our careers or when a significant life event happens.
“Determining your learning style and the learning styles of your employees will help maximize workforce production. We must educate ourselves on all of the different thinking strategies and embrace them.”
So, which learning style are you?