Productivity Personas – Are You a Starter or a Finisher? (Day 12 of 30 Days of Getting Results)


“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Your Outcome: Become a “productive artist.” Find whether you are a “starter” or a “finisher” and improve your success in everything you do.

Some people are natural “starters.”  They live for the creative beginning of projects, but not the day-to-day execution or the detailed follow up and follow through.

Some people are natural “finishers.”  They like the day-to-day work and the routine execution.

When “starters” and “finishers” pair up, everybody wins.

The Power of Productivity Personas

Welcome to day 12 of 30 Days of Getting Results.

In day 11, we learned how to reduce friction and create glide paths for your day.

Today, we learn how to figure out our strengths and weaknesses when it comes to productivity using Productivity personas.

The beauty is that you can Productivity personas to get a better lens on yourself, your situation, or people you work with.

With this lens, you can be more effective and get better results in any situation, whether it’s a one-man band or part of a team.

Starters and Finishers

One of my friends is great at starting things.  Just don’t expect him to finish.

He would light a lot of fires in a lot of places and then he’d be on to his next big idea.

Trust me, unless you want to just fade away, you want fire starters around.  They light things up and create value and possibilities out of thin air.

And they can have a great way of bringing out your best or inspiring you to action.

He is a natural “Starter.”

Another one of my friends is great at finishing things.  He is a master at knowing the details and being complete.

Words that come to mind are “thorough,” “attention to detail,” “responsible,” “sees things through,” … you get the idea.

What he lacks in getting things started, he makes up for in bringing things to close and going the last mile.

He is a “Finisher” at heart.

When a starter and finisher pair up … look out.  Great things happen.

The fastest way to suck your life force out of anyone is to always play the “finisher” role when you’re a starter, or always play a starter role when you’re a finisher.

Why Productivity Personas

Your personal success at getting results is clearly a place where a little knowledge goes a long way.

By adding the lens of Productivity Personas to your tool belt, you will be better equipped to deal with any productivity issue, whether it’s for yourself, helping a friend, or leading a team.

If you’re feeling drained or like you’re spinning your wheels or simply not making the impact you know you can make, this might just be your ticket to faster, simpler, and better results.

3 Ways to Use Productivity Personas

Here are three ways you can use the Productivity Personas to your advantage:

1. Know Yourself.

Use the Productivity Personas to know yourself. 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.

Ask yourself, “When am I at my best? Am I more of a Starter or a Finisher? Am I more of a Maximizer or a Simplifier? Am I more of a Thinker or a Doer?”

2. Team Up.

Use the Productivity Personas to pair up with other people and improve your own effectiveness.

You can also use the Productivity Personas to create more effective teams or to optimize teamwork.

Ask yourself, “Who can I team up with to get results? How can I build more effective teams? Who should be paired up on the team for best results?”

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.

For example, if you really need a Starter for the situation, but you can’t break out of Finisher mode, then see if you can find somebody who can play the role. Ask yourself, “What are the best behaviors for the situation?”

Remember to use the Productivity Personas as a lens.

The labels are for behaviors, not for limiting or boxing in personalities.

Anybody can demonstrate any of the behaviors at any time.

The Productivity Personas at a Glance

“Starter” and “finisher” combo is just one example.  Here are some additional Productivity Personas to give you some more lenses:

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. Analysis 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.
Enabler (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 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. They’re passionate about spreadsheets.
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 Turns 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.

Simply familiarize yourself with some of the various Productivity Personas so they can help you when you need to make sense of a productivity challenge or scenario, as well as to learn more about yourself.

The key is to be aware of the preferences, for yourself and others, and to choose more effective behaviors as well as to optimize yourself and others in any situation.

Keep in mind anybody can play just about any role, but some people will be in their element and have definitive preferences in some roles over others, yourself included.

And if you can find your own sweet spot, and help others find theirs, that is how you generate more energy…better energy.

And better energy, better results is the name of the game.

Game on!

Your Assignment

  1. Identify your natural preferences in terms of a “starter” or “finisher.”
  2. Identify the most common Productivity Personas or roles that you play in your day to day.
  3. Find one simple thing you can do to complement your natural productivity pattern.

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