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Which Productivity Profile Are You?

by | Process

In my brand new book Die Empty, I examine the common places where bright, sharp, talented people eventually get stuck in their life and career.

The goal, of course, is to get your best work out of you every day and to not leave it inside or take it to your grave with you like so many people do. We all have a unique contribution to make to the world through our life and work, but unless we are purposeful about getting to it, others may never experience it. There are three kinds of work that we engage in as we go about our day. (I also addressed these in a recent podcast.) They are Mapping, Making, and Meshing.

Mapping is planning your work. It is when you strategize, conceive, think, plan, and plot your course of action. It’s the “work before the work” that helps you stay aligned.

Making is actually doing the work. It is when you are creating the actual value you are being paid for, or doing the tasks you devised while mapping.

Meshing is the third kind of work, and it’s often overlooked in the hustle of daily activity. It is all of the “work between the work” that actually makes you more effective when you are working. It’s comprised of things like following your curiosity, study, developing your skills, and asking deeper questions about why you are doing your work.

Depending on how diligent you are at engaging in these three kinds of work, you will occasionally fall into one of four “productivity profiles”.

Mapping + Making – Meshing = Driver

Drivers are “heads down”. They are ploughing through their work and getting things done, and they are extremely effective in short bursts and in the short-term. However, over time they become decreasingly effective because they aren’t doing the little things that prepare them for future challenges and obstacles. They are not developing themselves or their capacity for future effectiveness.

Mapping + Meshing – Making = Dreamer

The dreamer loves to talk about ideas, and loves to develop skills and follow curiosity where it leads, but is not disciplined about getting the work done. They tend to have big ideas, but no follow-through. Of course, this is not a path to making a valuable contribution.

Meshing + Making – Mapping = Drifter

This is my achilles heel. The drifter is someone who loves to develop skills and follow curiosity, and loves to engage in the act of making, but they lack the conviction of a long-term strategic plan. Thus, they tend to leave a series of half-finished projects in their wake. They bounce from shiny new project to shiny new project, and fall prey to what Scott Belsky calls the “project plateau”, which is when they hop to a new project when the old one stalls.

Mapping + Making + Meshing = Developer

This is the most desirable of the four profiles, because it allows you to take advantage of all three kinds of work and weave them together to take advantage of opportunities. Developers are best positioned to spot and leverage opportunities because they are planning, they are being diligent about doing the work, and they are developing themselves and their skills to position them for future activity.

So which of the four profiles most reflects your tendencies? The good news is that if you see yourself in one of them, it’s easy to adjust and get back on the Developer path. Everyone has their tendencies and weak spots, but awareness of them is the first step toward more productive and contributive activity.

Question: Which of these four profiles to you tend toward the most, and how does it affect your work?

Die EmptyOne of the best books of the year. Passionate, practical and powerful, Todd will help you do more and do it better, starting right now.” – Seth Godin, author of The Icarus Deception

Available now! Amazon.comBarnes & NobleIndieBound

Todd Henry

Todd Henry

Positioning himself as an “arms dealer for the creative revolution”, Todd Henry teaches leaders and organizations how to establish practices that lead to everyday brilliance. He is the author of five books (The Accidental Creative, Die Empty, Louder Than Words, Herding Tigers, The Motivation Code) which have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and he speaks and consults across dozens of industries on creativity, leadership, and passion for work.

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  1. Daniel

    I bought the book last week and I can’t put it down. Fantastic! I excited to get into it further and do the exercises. Thanks!

  2. Matt Schmidt

    Drifter-Too many times there are ideas come in but there is a lack of follow through. Do one task and move on to the next.

  3. Andy Mort

    I think I have been through seasons of all four of these. I used to be a dreamer, now I fluctuate between driver and drifter with the very occasional foray into developer. I love how you define these things. Makes total sense. I can’t wait to read the book.

  4. Karen

    I would say that dreamer and drifter both speak to me. However, I am most productive when I can come up with the ideas, develop prototypes and them turn it over to others who can produce while I stay on it to provide direction. I also am selling to gain clients or more business out of current clients.

  5. Mahin Sciacca

    I have a tendency to be a “dreamer” but by applying the ideas from AC over the past year, I’m moving toward “developer.” I work alone on most everything I do. I have an easier time keeping moving on a project if someone else is involved.

  6. Craig Hinca

    I am a drifter who is becoming a developer! It is taking 20 years but I feel I am gaining some perspective and finally gathering some ongoing education and inspiration.

  7. Holly

    I’m finding Drifter and Dreamer to be the main areas I hover in. I have quite a few ideas I would like to work on, but I also have some projects that I haven’t seen through to completion. Good to know there is hope to become a Developer! Thanks!

  8. Beth

    I am most definitely the Drifter. My closet is filled with both projects and supplies that were picked up on a whim and then left for more exciting tasks. I always thought that planning out my creative works would stifle me, but now I have a better perspective. Looking back on the projects that I actually completed proves that when I do make a plan, I accomplish it!

  9. Louie Dinh

    Dreamer for most of my life. I have natural tendencies towards planning and developing skills. I’m moving towards developer by adopting a weekly/daily goal setting system.

    I try to use the following tools to get around deficiencies in each area:
    Mapping – Daily habit of reading.
    Making – Todo lists, Deadlines, Calendars
    Meshing – Meetups, Deliberate Practice, Classes.

    How do you push through your weaker areas?

  10. Caroline

    It’s fascinating to read this article and then go through the comments. At this stage in my life I am a 100% driver. I love to make and map in my current skill set but lack the discipline to sit down and learn new skills that would add value to my career.

  11. dkurschner

    Dreamer – love ideas – love the book – love the practical side of Todd Henry’s writing.

  12. Mike Canning

    Driver – good at planning, good at keeping my head down and doing the work, not so good at the networking and related items needed for the health and growth of the business long-term.

  13. Simma Gershenson

    I am probably a dreamer by nature. (though my 20’s and 30’s were spent being a drifter I think) My current jobs are firmly under my control and that seems to make being a developer much easier.

  14. Jeremy

    How do we get the audiobook ? I see it is listed on Amazon but when I tried to buy it it says not available for my area (South Africa). Someone I know in the UK had the same message when they tried there. I have lots of time to listen to audio books while I drive so really keen to buy it. Thanks, Jeremy

    • Todd Henry

      Jeremy, I’m not 100% certain when the audiobook will be released internationally. I believe it’s rolling out in the UK at the end of October, so perhaps other countries will happen in conjunction with that release. Sorry for my limited information!

      • Jeremy

        Thanks Todd, if someone could post here when that happens, it will auto alert on email, thanks, Jeremy.

  15. Arvell Craig

    Hey Todd! I just finished the book and loved it! I’m going to write up a blog post on the most impactful things- namely the subject on this page. You’ve given me a powerful insight on my issue of being a “dreamer.”

    Thank you.

  16. Ved

    They make so much sense and helped me identify where I am on occasions. As you said awareness towards our weak spots is the starting point to being productive and becoming a developer. I am mainly a dreamer with a few bursts of developer periods.

  17. Josh Howard

    I’m definitely a drifter as well. An advice from a fellow-drifter on how to get out of that habit?

    • Todd Henry

      For me, it’s often simply having someone around to keep me focused on finishing projects. Also, daily alignment to the “main thing” helps me stay on course.

      • Josh Howard

        Thanks brother! Do you have a PA that helps you stay focused? Or is this your spouse? Or a close friend?

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