Make Your Natural Working Style Work For You

During the many years I’ve helped people design, set up and organize home offices, I’ve seen home offices that were disaster areas and others that needed only a bit of fine-tuning. What the owners of these home offices had in common was that they were fighting their natural working style.

Everyone works differently and has different working styles, depending upon the time of day and the activity. Consider this: if you’re busy, you don’t think about putting things away. After your project is over and your office is a disaster, you may think about getting organized.

When you take the time to set up your office to fit your working style, it’s easier to maintain it. Take a close look at these five working styles to see if any of these sound familiar.

Bouncing Ball

A Bouncing Ball bounces from project to project, but has trouble completing any of them. This active person wants to accomplish everything, yet has trouble focusing on one thing at a time. (I know because I tend to be a Bouncing Ball at times.)

Solution: Use some type of to-do list (paper-based, in your smartphone or on your computer) to keep you on track and focused.

Nit Picky

On the surface, A Nit Picky (or perfectionist) looks organized, but isn’t. He or she is so focused on doing everything perfectly, that nothing gets accomplished.

Solution: One of the ways to avoid being a Nit Picky is to have realistic standards and attainable goals, and know that you can’t do everything perfectly.

Teeter Totter

A Teeter Totter has trouble making decisions because he or she is afraid that any decision is the wrong one. Fear definitely can have a paralyzing effect on decisions.

Solution: When making decisions, build in contingency plans. When you start a project, make decisions and follow through. If things aren’t going as planned, change direction and then move forward.

Ima Mess

The Ima Mess keeps things “just in case” or because he or she “may need it someday.” The problem is being able to find what you need, when you need it. That can be challenging.

Solution: If you’re keeping something that doesn’t have a specific purpose, recycle it or donate it. Weed through your files and get rid of anything you know you’ll never refer to again. Add drawer dividers within drawers you use often to make it easy to see and find what you need.


A Lookout follows the out-of-sight, out-of-mind philosophy and fears putting anything away. You can tell someone is a Lookout by the piles of paper on the desk, office supplies stored on open shelves and magazines stacked on the floor as a reminder to read them.

Solution: Keep things in sight but still organized by using desktop file holders, colorful document boxes to hold supplies on shelves, and stacking bins or baskets to hold magazines.

Which working style describes you?


  1. I loved this one, Lisa…
    As a nitpicky bouncing ball, i recognize the need to adjust my office situation to my needs- not to another’s. Which is why we pretty much let everyone else maintain their offices in a self-regulatory fashion (with the exception that offices will be clean and neat (nothing on the desks or floors) every Friday, so the cleaning crew will not be responsible for ruining one’s “organization”.

    I will be using these terms for others in my office, as well.
    RAAckerman @ recently posted..We built that!My Profile

    • Thanks, Roy! I enjoyed writing it.

      As a confirmed bouncing ball and a reformed nit picky (at least most of the time), I like your attitude about your workspace. The fact that you’re not forcing everyone to organize the same way undoubtedly keeps everyone happy. The Friday cleanup is a good idea too. I remember my corporate days when co-workers spent most of the morning trying to figure out where the cleaning crew had put their stuff.
      Lisa recently posted..Make Your Natural Working Style Work For YouMy Profile

  2. It seems I am both the boucing ball and an Ima mess. I will need to get better organization skills. Good any decent book recommendations?
    michael gagariga recently posted..Apple’s environmental sins: Is China also guilty?My Profile

    • You’re not alone. I see that combo often.

      Organization takes time, but you can do it. Change one thing at a time instead of trying to change everything at once. With regard to a book recommendation, my latest book, Organize Your Home Office For Success, is a good step-by-step guide to help you get organized. Here’s the link: (and a shameless plug, but the book works).

      Good luck with your organizing project. 🙂
      Lisa recently posted..Make Your Natural Working Style Work For YouMy Profile

  3. This is a wonderful list! I never thought of it quite that way. I am totally a bouncing ball and I have more to-do lists and calendars going that should be legal, but when I use them as intended I get a lot done. My bigger problem is the Ima mess…oh boy I really have to work on the ‘what if I need it?” routine more often.
    Bonnie recently posted..Really? A Gratitude Rock?My Profile

    • Thanks, Bonnie. It’s tough not to be a bouncing ball. There’s too much to do and too little time to do it! 🙂 To-do lists definitely work…the challenge is to find one that works for you and then use it. The thought “what if I need it someday?” makes it hard to give anything away but decluttering is freeing.
      Lisa recently posted..Make Your Natural Working Style Work For YouMy Profile

  4. Good one, Lisa. Like some of your other readers, I have a combination. I find I tend to get “out of control,” then all work stops until I reorganize and bring zen back to my office. 🙂
    Cathy Miller recently posted..Is LinkedIn Losing Its Identity?My Profile

  5. I love this article Lisa. What’s interesting is that you can be any one of these depending on where you are with your business development. For example, you’re business has grown to a point you can’t manage it alone and need a team, you can easily be in the ima mess category (it’ll be worse if you’re a pack rat…). If you are leveling up one (going to the next level of growth for your business), you can easily fall into teeter totter mode because of fear of the unknown, fear of what if it doesn’t work, etc… I like that this article gives you quick snapshots of common traps and pitfalls that all solopreneurs can fall prey if they’re not careful. Thanks for sharing with us.

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