Work/Life Balance

How To Steal Type-A Habits When You’re A (Seriously) Type-B Person

By | Thursday, September 10, 2015

This post is sponsored by Progressive Home Quote Explorer. Learn more here.

I’ve never made a secret here on TFD about the fact that I am very, very far from Type-A. I have always been a bit chaotic and disorganized in my work life, and though I’ve generally become a fairly tidy person, I’m never going to be the girl who can’t sleep until she has scrubbed her kitchen down to the floorboards after cooking. I’m late to rise and do my best work at night, and generally need to litter my life — both digitally and IRL — with little reminders about all the things I have to do. But in running a business, adopting some of those seriously organized habits has been essential to keeping things running (while keeping my sanity). And while I don’t think I’ll ever be the person you might have in mind when you picture a small business owner, I can successfully say that I’ve adopted a few key life strategies that allow me to have the best of both worlds.

I want to break down the ways I’ve stolen some of those Type-A habits for myself in trying out Progressive’s new home insurance quoting experience HomeQuote Explorer. Progressive is the only insurer that allows you to quickly compare multiple home insurance rates and coverages from multiple companies side-by-side, without having to lose your mind digging around the Internet for hours on end. It’s fast and convenient, and the perfect tool for someone like me, who needs all of the information…quickly.

1. Reminders, reminders, reminders.

First, about those reminders I mentioned – there’s no shame in my constantly-reminding-myself-about-every-little-thing game. I make full use of my Notepad app (phone and laptop), sticky notes, spiral notebooks, texting myself, my Google Calendar, and basically everything in-between. I am prone to forgetting everything from calling my mom about an email she sent to sending a client an important project on a tight deadline. So what if I’m not the most intrinsically-organized person on the planet? I’m able to compensate for those natural timing skills I don’t have by constantly reminding myself to do what needs to be done. (As I write this, an alarm is going off on my phone that just says “CALL JURY DUTY TO TELL THEM YOU ARE OUT OF TOWN THAT DAY,” which — yikes. Gotta go do that.)

“Being Type-A isn’t just about being hyper-organized
or focused, it’s about leaning into what your most effective
and efficient habits are, and allowing yourself to be
helped along with the rest. “

2. Say no as the default, yes when you’re sure you can.

Part of my problem, and part of what always left me feeling so chaotic and out-of-time, is that I was always saying “yes” to things that I really had no business agreeing to. It gave me a rush to agree to something, and to feel like I was already getting basically half the credit just for saying that I’d do it. But the real pleasure comes from a job well done, and that can only happen if you are taking on what you can actually handle, or what you’re actually going to be motivated to follow-through on. That’s true of work, it’s true of dinner plans with friends, and it’s true for driving with your sibling to a remote farm town to help them pick up a fixer-upper armoire they found on the junk section of Craigslist. Now, I try to go from a position of “I may not have time for this,” and only make room for the things I know I can and will do well. It’s left me feeling, overall, much more clear-headed and calm, and I now feel like I am the main arbiter of my own time, rather than it constantly dragging me in every direction. I still say “yes” to a substantial amount, but much less than I used to. And that makes all the difference.

3. Lean into when you do your best work.

I used to feel really self-conscious about the fact that I work best at night, and would often stay up well into the AM hours writing away if left to my own devices. I longed to be a morning person, and romanticized exactly what that might look like. And yes, being a morning person is something that is generally (and, studies would indicate, somewhat irrationally) valorized by society. There is real social value in making yourself one of those people who gets up with the birds and spends their first hour or so pensively sipping tea while reading and/or doing yoga. But the truth is, I’ve done a lot of great work at night. I’ve built most of my career in the evenings, written two books by the midnight oil, and continue to do the vast majority of the creative heavy lifting after the sun has set. Trying to resist that just means worse work, and less of it overall. Now that I have given myself “permission,” so to speak, to save up the most demanding and rewarding work for the hours my brain wants to do it — so long as I am still ready to go every day for our 930 team meeting — I have found myself happier and much more productive. You must do the same, no matter when your “happy time” is.

Being Type-A isn’t just about being hyper-organized or focused, it’s about leaning into what your most effective and efficient habits are, and allowing yourself to be helped along with the rest. What matters are the results, not how perfect things looked on the way to get there. So set a ton of reminders, say no more often, arm yourself with the tools that help, and be true to when you are at your best. Before you know it, you’ll be feeling a whole lot more like the class valedictorian.

4. Oh, and let the right tools do the heavy lifting.

I am someone who used to really put off something as simple as downloading an app or doing a bit of research. (Yes, really, I was that much of a procrastinator.) Part of the reason it took me so long to make a coherent budget, for example, is of all the reasons above and because I refused to just accept that I would never be particularly good at manually tracking it, and that I should find the right program that would help me with the number crunching and make the whole task feel like less of a weight on my shoulders.

I now have apps and trusted sites for my budget, my bulk shopping, my doctor’s reminders, and even my insurance. And tools like Progressive’s HomeQuote Explorer are exactly the kind of site I love to use — all of the information is easily-searchable and collected, and all of my questions can be easily answered in-place. After you enter your address, it automatically answers questions about your home for you based on public records. Plus, there are pictures to help you figure out your roof type, countertops and more. (I tend to get very distracted if I have to open up multiple browser tabs to find something out.)  

Fill out the forms quickly then with the click of a button, you get multiple home quotes side-by-side. No digging around the Internet quoting multiple times, and no calling multiple companies. HomeQuote Explorer did the legwork for me. Seriously, try it.

The point is, find the tools that help you do the work you tend to be lazy or anxiety-riddled about, and don’t be afraid to automate what you can. It’s better to admit you’re just not great at something, and get out ahead of it, than to put the thing off until it snowballs.

Image via Unsplash

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