How Productivity Personas Help You Understand Your Strengths and Preferences



“My goal is no longer to get more done, but rather to have less to do.” — Francine Jay

What kind of Productivity Persona are you?

By knowing your Productivity Persona you can learn how to better adapt your productivity approach for the situation or challenges at hand.

You can also use your Productivity Persona to help you play better with others.  After all productivity is  a team sport.

As you’ve probably noticed throughout your life, people vary in how they approach productivity.

Productivity is a spectrum ranging from day dreamers to achievers.

What if we actually identify and name these various flavors of productivity?

This way, when you recognize that you are using the wrong productivity for a given scenario, you can switch your style (just like you might switch to a different hat).

This will give you more freedom and flexibility to use the right Productivity Persona for the job.

For example, maybe you’re thinking “details” when it’s really time for “big picture.”

I’m calling these Productivity Personas, but they’re really just an amalgam of styles, behavior preferences and thinking patterns.

Use Productivity Personas to Build Awareness of Productivity Styles

I’m highlighting some of the more common personality personas that you’ll easily recognize.

I’ll use personas as a simple way name the different types of behaviors.  Anybody can be a mix of some or all of the various personas.

No Productivity Persona is good or bad.

Some are more effective than others depending on the situation.  The key is to use the Productivity Personas as a lens on behavior.

You can analyze yourself, other people, and common interactions.

We all have the capacity for the various behaviors.  The trick is to learn your preferences and the preferences of others.

The Productivity Personas at a Glance

Here is a starter set to help think about some of the types of Productivity Personas you might recognize in yourself and others:

  • Starter
  • Finisher
  • Thinker
  • Doer
  • Simplifier
  • Maximizer
  • Critic
  • Can do
  • Opportunist
  • Perfectionist
  • Details
  • Big Picture
  • Facts and figures
  • Controller
  • Tinkerer
  • Marketer
  • Achiever
  • Randomizer
  • Daydreamer
  • Procrastinator

Summary of Productivity Personas

The following table summarizes the Productivity Personas:

Persona Notes
Starter Starts things but doesn’t always finish. Their energy comes from thinking up new ideas and kicking things off. Love prototyping an idea, but once they’ve figured it out, they’re ready to move on to something else.
Finisher Brings things to closure. Effective finishers, complete things and move on. is a fit and finish type of person. It’s finished when they say it’s finished.
Thinker Is an ideas person. Thinking is what they do best. Analyzing is their game, but doing is somebody else’s game. They don’t have to act on their thoughts to enjoy them.
Doer Does their job. They tend to get their job done. They may not come up with new ideas, but they have a preference for taking action.
Simplifier Finds the simplest path. Strips things down to the minimum. Good enough for now is OK in their book.
Maximizer Finds the maximum impact.
Critic Finds the faults. They’ll find ways why you can’t or why it’s wrong. They’ll critique themselves, their work or their ideas. Anything is fair game.
Can do Finds a way. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and they’ll find it. It may not be the optimal solution, but worst case, they’ll find a workaround.
Opportunist Finds the opportunity in any situation.
Perfectionist Treats everything like a work of art. Quality is their name, finishing isn’t their game. They’ll be done when it’s done. It will be done just as soon as it’s perfect. Whenever that is.
Details Loves the details and will want to see things through. Dots the “I’s and crosses the “t”’s. Spreadsheets are one of their passions.
Big Picture Sees the forest from the trees. Likes the big ideas and doesn’t want to get lost in the minutia.
Facts and Figures Is a numbers person. They want quantifiable measurements. Like Details, they too like spreadsheets.
Controller Likes to control things. This could be the doers, the project, or their world.
Tinkerer Likes to tinker. The world is their sandbox. Dabbles here, dabbles there.
Marketer Communicates the value. Knows how to sell ideas.
Achiever Likes to accomplish things.
Randomizer Makes their latest priority into other people’s problems.
Daydreamer Likes to dream up better ways for better days. They’d rather dream than do. They don’t have to act on their dreams to enjoy them.
Procrastinator Finds way to put off to tomorrow, what they really should do today. They only send belated birthday cards since they know they’ll never send them out on time.


3 Ways to Use Productivity Personas

The personas give you a quick way to identify and label patterns  More importantly, they provide a lens.  You can use this lens to help you understand yourself and other people.  Here’s three ways you can use the personas to your advantage:

  1. Know yourself – When are you at your best? Are you more of a starter or a finisher?  Are you more of a maximizer or a simplifier?  Are you more of a thinker or a doer?  If you’re aware of the personas, you can use them to your advantage.  For example, don’t let your inner critic or perfectionist get in the way of your doer.
  2. Team up   – Who can you team up with to get results?  How can you build more effective teams?
  3. Improve the situation – You can imagine how some behaviors work better with others and how some can create conflict.  Swap out for more effective personas based on the scenario.  What are the best behaviors for the situation?

The next time you find yourself struggling in a situation, ask yourself if you’re using the right Productivity Persona and try switching your hat.

You Might Also Like

What is the Secret to Extreme Productivity?
The 5 Choices of Extraordinary Productivity
How Productivity is the Key to Your Best Life


  1. A very interesting analysis.

    I think I mostly use the ‘can do’ and ‘big picture’. Work and martial arts have slowly been training me in the art of the ‘simplifier’ and I enjoy that.

  2. The ones I need to work on most are Perfection and Procrastination, and some day soon I’ll get around to looking at the second one especially.

    I like what you say about not letting your inner critic get in the way of your doing. Sometimes you just gotta DO things and worry about “cleaming them up” later.

  3. Hi JD,
    This is good info to think about – and see where we fit in. I can see how knowing this will help in understanding ourselves better, and how we best work. And as well, when we think of others, if we can find personas that work in conjunction with each other – we have a real opportunity to find that sweet spot where everything just comes together.

  4. Super interesting! I’d never given this much thought, but now I definitely will. You mentioned knowing yourself and I think this is SUCH an important thing. So many people just go through life not knowing who they are and I think this makes things a lot more difficult for them than they need to be. Great post!

  5. Very interesting. I think it’s useful to think that you can take on (or off) any one of these personas. Just put on a different hat. Even if you tend to be one kind more of the time, like a procrastinator, that doesn’t mean you are a procrastinator. You aren’t doomed to be that label for the rest of your life. It’s just a hat. You can take it off and put another one on.

  6. Super post this morning JD,
    sorry it took me awhile to get here, my igoogle reader page is not loading properly –

    I am a thinker/starter and always need a team effort to get the task completed – as a mother I have given up procrastination and added doer and finisher to the list,but I do not often feel comfortable in these roles – they just need to get done.

    I will come back and read this one again…
    You have such good ideas JD – Thank you for sharing so many of them in such a grand fashion.

  7. […] interesting article by J.D.Meier on the several types of personas you might find. I’ve tried to look at the personas […]

  8. I’m a combination kinda persona but most often am made up of…

    can do

    not that it really matters to you of course, just a look at me myself

    and Hi there, here by way of the Funster

  9. Balancing the various personalities can be key to getting a good team dynamic going. I hadn’t really thought about the idea of ‘switching’ hats to deal with a particular productivity situation but I like the idea. I would like to think I fall into the ‘big picture’ group, but often I fear ‘Tinkerer’ is more likely.

  10. Wow….this is a very useful table for me that I can use when I talk to my clients. Thanks for putting the definitions in a summary table here!

  11. I think I should give away my procrastinator hat if I can, it just seems to go with everything else I have in my cupboard and I end up wearing it way too often. 😉

  12. Hi J.D.

    I like this, it is very interesting for me to see how you explain each personas. I think I am a hybrid of a few personas mixed in :-).
    Thanks for sharing.
    Giovanna Garcia
    Imperfect Action is better than No Action

  13. @ Jarrod

    Simplifier is a great compliment for maximizers.

    @ Jannie

    Perfection is a tough one. I think simpfifier is a helpful hat to try on now and then.

    @ Lance

    That’s a good way to put it – “the sweet spot where everything just comes together.”

    @ Positively Present

    Thank you. I find the personas really help when I have to shift gears or team up. Now that I’m aware of it, I’ve been surprised how much it helps just to be mindful of the personas.

    @ VI

    The hat metaphor helps me a lot. I find it really easy to shift gears by simply switching hats.

    @ Patricia

    Thank you. I think your self-awareness serves you well.

    @ Paige

    That’s a powerful combination for results. You’re a perfect compliment for the starters and perfectionists out there.

    @ Fred

    The personas have really helped me improve team efficiency. I’ve made the mistake of pairing up starters with starters or finishers with finishers or maximizers with maximizers. I find the best results come from paired compliments with shared values.

    @ Evelyn

    Thank you. It’s actually one of the lenses I use just about every day. I have another persona I haven’t written up yet, but it might just be the most effective persona at all. I’ll share it soon.

    @ Lousia

    That’s a tough hat to give away. I think everybody has one on their shelf. It does go with everything 😉

    @ Giovanna

    Having a variety of hats actually helps for a variety of scenarios.

  14. […] Productivity Personas (J.D. Meier) […]

  15. Wonderful piece of info in the table. For one its going to improve my efficiency. But mostly its going to help me out in building the right teams for my projects. In hindsight, if I had knowledge of these personas probably 2 years before today, I might not have ended up with as much workload as I did.

    PS: Procrastinator is evil but you never know when it could be your best friend ;).

  16. […] this because I thought it was interesting, especially in regard to team dynamics.  The idea is Productivity Personas, which I found on J.D. Meier’s blog.  It’s definitely worth a […]

  17. @ Praveen

    Thank you. I wish I had this lens long ago too. It really helps me see why some teams really accelerate while others churn.

  18. Hi,

    I am trying to find some test on Productivity Personas, to determine which one am I. Is there any?


    • Hey Attila,

      There’s no official test. A bit of introspection can help reveal your most important personas. For example, while I’m a strong FINISHER, my true nature is that I’m a STARTER. And, while a strong THINKER, my true nature is that I’m a DOER.

      The true test really is where you have more energy or where you get your energy from. I get my best energy by starting something knew and by playing with things.

      That said, perhaps I’ll put together a simple post to ask some questions to help with self-assessment.

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