Working Simply by Carson Tate

Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style


Carson Tate is a coach, trainer, and consultant who helps people better manage time by understanding their own productivity style. Tate opened day 2 of the #sawacon Management Conference by sharing ideas on how we can all work more effectively by personalizing our approach to time management.

The traditional approach to teaching people to work faster and smarter has been time management training. But, as Tate noted, we’re out of time. There are only 168 hours in a week, and many of us are maxed out with responsibilities in the home and office.

How do you make time investment decisions that work for you and deliver the right “ROI” to what you’re juggling in life? According to Tate, traditional time management training isn’t enough. We all need tools to manage productivity in new ways, including a deep understanding of our own work styles.

Time is a Commodity
Tate noted that we say “time is more valuable than money” but most of us falter when it comes to making the right decisions on how we spend our time.

We don’t give away money indiscriminately, but we do often give away our time. She offered some examples of common ways all of us often spend too much time:

  • Email
  • Social media
  • Excessive meetings  
  • Not effectively delegating
  • Interruptions

The best way to manage these is to understand how you work best, and how you manage your day.

Personalize Your Productivity
In order to maximize the hours you have in a day, you need to understand your own productivity profile. Tate recommended taking her productivity style assessment, which is available here. [LINK to]

In Tate’s assessment, there are four productivity types. She noted that we all use each of these four styles, but everyone has a preference, or one they use most. Tate recommended a series of time management approaches and tools that correspond to each productivity profile.



The Prioritizer is very analytical and data-oriented. They are focused on speed and efficiency, and tend to be early adopters of new technology. In meetings, they want to get to the point very fast.  

Recommended tools and time management approaches for Prioritizers:

  • Time yourself to better understand how to accurately plan and structure days based on real data
  • Set and maintain routines because they allow you to think less and save time
  • Use keyword and shortcut keys
  • Use the rules (Outlook) or filters (Gmail) feature in email to automate filing and other actions such as automatic responses
  • Set goals for how many emails you’ll read and respond to in a day



Planners are highly detailed-oriented, and very focused on sequential tasks. They are natural project planners because they think in process and want everything to be on time. Their detail orientation makes them good at proofing documents.

Recommended tools and time management approaches for Planners:

  • Batch and group similar tasks  
  • Include buffer time in your calendar to provide space so you don’t have to spend time replanning if something gets off track in your day
  • Move emails directly into your calendar to automate creating a to-do list
  • Ask your team to use standard subject lines (like “Action item: Task”) to help you more easily organize your inbox



An arranger’s thinking is very relational. They are natural facilitators and are able to walk into a room and know what’s not being said – the undercurrent in the room. They tend to be very visual and their productivity tools matter. They want very specific tools that feel and function in a certain way that works for them.

Recommended tools and time management approaches for Arrangers:

  • Focus on conserving energy and align tasks to your energy levels
  • Schedule time to connect with others because you do your best work with other people
  • Seek out the sun – people who sit near sunlight get more done
  • Automate the tracking of request made via email using the “waiting for” rule
  • Use templated responses in email so you don’t have to write the same email over and over



Visualizers are ideators and offer insights that may connect things that other people don’t immediately see. They are highly visual, and tend to file in stacks or Post-It notes. Color is very important to them, and they tend to be great at juggling a lot of different tasks is important to them. They don’t want to be limited by what’s been done in the past.


Recommended tools and time management approaches for Visualizers:

  • Act like a sprinter, not a marathoner – switch between tasks often
  • Intersperse routine work with creative work
  • Work fewer hours to force yourself to work to deadlines
  • Color code your inbox to organize incoming messages
  • Turn off notifications that distract you from email, social media, and apps


Once you understand your own productivity style, and use the right approaches for you, you’ll likely find more time to dedicate to the tasks, and people, you most enjoy.


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