Have you ever taken the time to get organized only to find that three days later your office is more of a mess than it was before? If so, you may have been fighting your natural working style. Take our quiz to see which of four working styles you fall into: Nit Picky (perfectionist), Bouncing Ball (unable to focus on one project at a time), Teeter Totter (difficulty making decisions), and Ima Mess (pack rat).
Within each section, circle the appropriate numbers-choose as many as you like-that describe the way you handle tasks. When you're finished, check your score to find out which work style is more your speed.
If you have several tasks to accomplish in one week, how would you tackle them? Would you:
1. Have trouble deciding which task to do first?
2. Postpone tasks because you can't decide how to do them?
3. Ask others for their opinion to make sure that yours was right?
4. Keep any anxiety about these tasks to yourself?
5. Fear finishing a task because there may be another way to do it?
6. Have little or no anxiety about the tasks?
7. Feel that if something went wrong with the tasks, you would cover with a clever comment?
8. Assume the tasks would fall easily into place?
9. Not think about clearing your desk before working?
10. Ask your partner to help you at the last minute?
11. Plan ahead carefully?
12. Clear off your desk and start only when it was perfectly clear?
13. Focus on performing the task at hand perfectly before asking yourself if it's the most pending task you have?
14. Make a list of things to do?
15. Do only the tasks that you knew you were able to do perfectly?
16. Start on one task and jump to the next without completing the first one?
17. Work on one task, get bored and pass it on to someone else?
18. Use a to-do list on some days, your memory on others?
19. Get bored easily, no matter what the task?
20. Look for shortcuts for completing the tasks?
Home office expert Lisa Kanarek is the founder of HomeOfficeLife.com and the author of Organizing Your Home Office For Success (Blakely Press) and 101 Home Office Success Secrets (Career Press).
Give yourself one point for each number you circled. Total each section separately. The section with the most points is your dominant work style. Keep in mind that the type of task in front of you may also affect your work style. You may even fall into two categories at one time, depending on the task.
Section A = Teeter Totter
Description: Your inability to make decision makes you appear unprofessional, lacking in confidence and disorganized since you wait until the last minutes.
Solution: When making decisions, build in contingency plans so you're better prepared when things don't go as planned.
Section B = Ima Mess
Description: Because you don't take the time to put things away or set up systems for finding what you need, you waste time looking for things and come across as sloppy and even lazy.
Solution: Whether it's finding a to-do list that works for you or setting up a few files for the papers you need to find immediately, one change in your current work style will make a big difference in your professionalism and productivity.
Section C = Nit Picky
Problem: Perfection gets in the way of your productivity and your working relationship with others.
Solution: There's nothing wrong with striving for perfection as long as your quest for perfection doesn't affect the quality and quantity of work you produce. Get in the habit of handling top priorities--whether or not they're your strengths-and avoid postponing tasks because you don't have the time to do them perfectly.
Section D = Bouncing Ball
Problem: Your lack of focus makes you jump from project to project without completing the tasks you need to finish most.
Solution: Keep a daily or weekly to-do list to help you stay focused on those tasks that need your immediate attention. Carve out specific chunks of time for the tasks that sidetrack you the most-checking e-mail, returning phone calls, Web surfing. If you start to bounce around, your list will serve as a guide to get you back on track.