Tag Archives: sprinter

Do You Like Dividing the World Up Into Categories?

08-07-10 I See The Same Old Warning SignsI love taxonomies, categories, ways of dividing people into groups. If you’re the same way, take these quizzes to find out what categories describe you:

1. Are you an under-buyer or an over-buyer? I’m an under-buyer.

2. Are you an abstainer or a moderator? I’m an abstainer, 100%.

3. Are you an alchemist or a leopard? I’m an alchemist.

4. Are you a radiator or a drain? I try to be a radiator.

5. Are you a finisher or an opener? I’m a finisher.

6. Are you a satisficer or a maximizer (yes, these are real words). I’m a satisficer.

7. Are you more drawn to simplicity or to abundance? I’m more drawn to simplicity.

8. Are you a Tigger or an Eeyore? I’m a bit of both, but writing about happiness has definitely brought out my Tigger qualities. (I write a lot about the conflict between these two categories in Happier at Home.)

9. Are you a marathoner or a sprinter? (categories formerly known as “tortoises and hares,” but I changed the terms). I’m a marathoner.

Putting myself into categories is fun, and I think it also gives me insight into my own nature. When I see myself more clearly, I can more easily see ways that I might do things differently, to make myself happier.

Categories can be unhelpful, however, when they become too all-defining, or when they become an excuse. “Oh, I can’t be expected to resist eating the cookies in the cupboard, I’m an abstainer.”

Do you find it helpful to consider these kinds of categories? Or too constraining?

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Are You a Marathoner, a Sprinter, or a Procrastinator?

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A few weeks ago, I wrote a post, Are you a tortoise or a hare about work? It was about the question of whether you’d prefer to work fewer hours over more days, or more hours over fewer days. I’ve been thinking more about this distinction. First point: I’m re-naming these categories “marathoners and sprinters.”

A larger point: one reason that I’m a marathoner is that I really dislike deadlines. I really, really, really don’t like to have work hanging over me. For instance, when I was in law school, I had two major writing requirements to fulfill by the end of my third year, and I completed them both by the end of my first year. (Sidenote: perhaps my eagerness to write big papers could have been perceived as a sign that I would rather be a writer than a lawyer, but that’s another story.)

I know I could never be a journalist, because I wouldn’t be able to take the deadlines. Having a big deadline at the end of a very long period–as with a book–is fine, because it gives marathon-me plenty of time. I like to do a little work over a long period of time, with a lot of opportunity to reflect and research and refine, and ample margin in case some emergency prevents me from working. However, I know that many people need deadlines to work. Sprinters, am I right in assuming that deadlines are important to your process? Is it too much of a stretch to call you deadline-dependent–that is, you won’t start your sprint until the deadline looms?

Also, it seems to me that there’s a difference between sprinters and procrastinators. Agree, disagree?

From my observation, sprinters deliberately wait for the pressure of a deadline to help clarify their thinking. For instance, a friend told me, “I never prepare a talk until right before I have to give it–I mean, people are in their seats and I’m standing waiting to go out to a podium. It drives my staff crazy, but that’s when I get all my ideas.” Another friend has a book to write, but she won’t start until a few months before it’s due. She likes to sprint, and she knows how long it will take her to write the book, so she doesn’t want to start until she’ll feel the deadline pressure.

This approach seems different from procrastination. With procrastination, people feel as though they should be working, and they wish they could work, but somehow they can’t make themselves. They aren’t choosing to hold back; they can’t force themselves forward until the deadline is so urgent that they must act. (Want tips to stop procrastinating? Look here.) How do procrastinators feel about the marathoners and sprinters? Many procrastinators seem to wish they could be marathoners, but maybe that’s not a good fit for their natures.

I’ve just started to consider these distinctions, however. What do you think? Marathoners, sprinters, procrastinators, or any combinations of the three, please weigh in.

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Photo credit: FindingTheObvious

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