Work Simply: Embracing Your Productivity (Carson Tate)

Work Simply

Are you a busy executive who has an enormous list of tasks, but can’t cross off all of them in one day? Are you an employee struggling to get projects done? In Carson Tate’s Work Simply (2015), she goes over the idea that time is not manageable, but that time is reflected based on the individual’s personality.

If you’re someone who cares about managing time, you probably tried out some useful tips. There are good tips to practice; however, not all of them are effective for each person. Sure, some useful tips and techniques work for others, but they don’t work for everybody.  Each individual is different when managing their time and that they shouldn’t try to be someone else. 

Tate goes over a couple of critical points to help people “work simply”. These points include:

  1. Determining Your Productivity Personality
  2. How Time isn’t Manageable- You Cannot Earn It
  3. Understanding How The Brain Works To Increase Productivity

To Work Simply: Figure Out Your Productivity Personality

Work Simply

Each individual is different when it comes to managing their time. In other words, there is no “one size fits all” approach to follow. It doesn’t make sense for employees to practice and successfully implement their employer’s top ten strategies on time management. Some people may find it useful, while others may not.

For example, making a to-do list can help one person stay on track of their work activities. But for others, to-do lists aren’t that helpful. The reason is that some people don’t end up getting all of the tasks crossed off their to-do lists. 

Work Simply: Four Types of Productivity Personalities

When it comes to figuring out your personality and workstyle, Tate briefly goes over something called the productivity style assessment. This assessment was created by Ned Herrmann, former manager of management education at General Electric. It looks at how the brain receives and processes information, along with the long-term implications of similar work outcomes. Four personality types identify how people work, which include the following:

  1. Prioritizer – this person is efficient; they like to use data analysis and logic to solve problems. The individual prioritizes their essential tasks, but can quickly get irritated when coworkers are chatting.
  2. Planner– this person loves making to-do lists. They’re good at organizing and putting stuff in order. Also, they feel uneasy observing others scrambling to get projects done at the last minute.
  3. Arranger– this person relies on their instincts to make decisions; they enjoy presenting and working with others. The individual is a visual thinker who always asks themselves, “How will this decision make people feel?”
  4. Visualizer– this person can walk into a heated discussion between coworkers, having all the solutions to figure out the problems presented. They instead not rely on data to make decisions, but they’ll find a way to bring people together to try something new. Regardless of disagreements, the person looks for other alternatives compared to “the way it’s always been done.”

You Can Earn Money- But You Can't Earn Time

Money is renewable, and you can always make more of it; however, time is not renewable because you can never go back to the past. Tate suggests thinking about managing time differently, meaning it cannot be used to bend our own rules. But time can be a great resource if used effectively, such as planning out your activities. If you plan out your actions (whether daily, weekly, monthly, yearly) and execute them effectively, you’re more likely to be much more successful in the long run.

Types of Actions

To use your time differently, Tate suggests using a “master task list” This type of list includes all of the things you need to accomplish your goals. The record is broken down into two categories:

  1. Project Actions: These are long-term tasks that can take weeks or months to complete. Examples include remodeling a kitchen, planning a multi-day seminar, or writing/publishing a book.
  2. Next Actions: These can be small, simple tasks that can help you move forward with your progress. Such quick duties include calling a family member, edit a report, or a follow-up on an ongoing project with your manager.

These are specific tasks that lead to some call to action. The purpose of the master task list is to help break down tasks and to avoid overloading on work. As mentioned, it’s a great approach to using time compared to other time management tips.

Focus As A Skill To Getting Things Done 

Work Simply

In this day of age, it can be a challenge to keep a long attention span. With distractions (Crenshaw book review), sometimes it will be inevitable but can be easily managed with simple time management tips. But as Tate discusses in her book, the human brain can only process and retain a limited number of things for a short time.

Tate stresses the point of working on one task at a time over multitasking. Multitasking may be convenient and quicker, but you may get less done if you deal with distractions while working on multiple tasks at once. Moreover, you’ll end up getting less done and find yourself burning a lot of time. 

One other thing to help stay focused is to alter your work-life balance. If you’re struggling to stay focused, ask yourself: are you taking breaks and doing activities that’ll stimulate your brain? Just working for a straight four-six hours can be rough if you take no breaks in between. Therefore, taking breaks in between, such as going for a brief walk, can be refreshing.


If you want to know these points in mind, think of the phrase “Known Your TWIST: You Need to Know yourself, learn to manage your time, have the WIllpower to focus on the tasks at hand, and find your own productivity STyle. If you know yourself and how you work best, you’re already off to an excellent start on the path to success.

What is your productivity personality based on the assessment?

Will you consider using a “master task list?”

Leave a comment below and share it with others.

Check out Tate's book below.


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  1. Awesome Read! I was just talking to someone about what it takes to manage properly the other day and a lot of it had to do with productivity personality and knowing exactly how to approach each employee. Very interesting and worthwhile if run a business or are in management.

  2. Great article Rick. I’m always interested in learning about different “types” or styles regarding work – partly to find out how I can work best, but also because it’s fun to understand co-workers better. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen productivity looked at this way, and it’s pretty intriguing. Does the book include the productivity style assessment that you mentioned?

    I’m definitely going to read this book, and will try to get some people I work with to read it too – especially the section about the benefits of focus as opposed to multitasking. It’s a big source of frustration for me that most workplaces value multitasking when it causes so much inefficiency due to time spent transitioning between tasks, etc.

    One question… Is a master task list something that is recommended regardless of productivity style? It seems like that would be good for the Planner type, but maybe not the others. Maybe I’m not understanding the concepts completely, so I guess reading the book will help with that. Anyway, thanks for the review!

    • Hi Jordan,
      Yes, it goes over in more detail about the assessment. As you read earlier, I did a quick rundown of the personalities.

      In regards to using a master task list, I certainly recommend it. I’m trying it right now, and it’s a little easier breaking down my tasks. So check out the book and try out the master task list.

  3. Excellent review!
    I like the sound of this book and I am very interested in being efficient with my time.
    I am a planner because I am always making to do lists for days and planning out a lot of each day.
    I also think that I can be a prioritizer too because sometimes being around people who are distracted affects my productivity. It can be hard for me to be around other people who are not being efficient with their time.
    The key for me to get work done is to put myself into the most conducive environment for pushing myself. That is what amplifies productivity a lot.
    Taking consistent breaks is big too. I try to not sit for too long of a period of time because even taking short standing or walking breaks goes a long way for me staying productive with my time.
    Taking the breaks helps keep me from getting burnout.
    I look forward to coming back to your site to learn how to become more efficient with my time.
    What is your productivity personality based on this assessment?
    Thanks for sharing this information!

    • Hi Jesse,
      Thanks for sharing, glad you enjoyed reading the post.

      Yes, I’m definitely a planner because I’m a little OCD when it comes to staying organized. I’m neat and tidy when it comes to those things.

      Thanks for asking!

  4. I’m somewhere in between a Prioritizer and a Planner when it comes to time management. This is a well written and thoroughly researched post and will help me to improve my work productivity.

    Yes, I already have been keeping a master tasks list for many years now and it’s good to know that others appreciate it too. I’ve always found it helpful taking a short break after many hours of work. These are things I learnt after many years in the workforce. This article sums it all up so nicely!

    • I hear you, Roderick. It’s not easy for everybody to concentrate for a certain period of time.

      If you read the book, I hope you get some helpful information from it. I found it useful and apply some of the stuff to my work habits.

      Thanks for sharing your input!

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