Are you in the wrong job?

I went to a workshop yesterday on discovering your personal work style. Since I’m still in the throes of figuring out who I am, I found it useful.

Part One evaluated:

  • How you are energized— by doing tasks or connecting with people
  • How you are organized— structured or unstructured


Rate the following questions on a scale of 1-5.

  1. Am I more comfortable doing things for people (1) or being with people (5)?

  2. When doing a task, do I tend to focus on the goal (1) or the relationship (5)?

  3. Do I get more excited about advancing a cause (1) or creating community (5)?

  4. Do I feel I’ve accomplished something when I’ve completed a job (1) or built a relationship (5)?

  5. Is it more important to start a meeting on time (1) or when everyone gets there (5)?

  6. Is it more important to maintain a deadline (1) or maintain a team (5)?

  7. Do I place a higher value on action (1) or on communication (5)?

Tally answers to get your “E” (energized) score.


Again, rate on a scale of 1-5.

  1. In life, do I prefer to be spontaneous (1) or follow a specific plan (5)?

  2. Do I prefer to set guidelines that are general (1) or specific (5)?

  3. Do I prefer to leave my options open (1) or settle things now (5)?

  4. Do I prefer projects that have variety (1) or routine (5)?

  5. Do I like to play it by ear (1) or stick to a plan (5)?

  6. Do I find routine boring (1) or restful (5)?

  7. Do I accomplish tasks best by working them out as I go (1) or by following a plan (5)?

Tally answers to get your “O” score.

You’ll have a total of between 7 and 35 on each section. (21 is the midpoint.)

A score of 7-20 on “E” means you are task oriented, to a greater or lesser degree. 22-35 means you are people oriented.  A score of 7-20 on “O” indicates the degree to which you are unstructured. 22-35 indicates you are structured.

Plot on the graph to determine your comfort zone— where you feel most at ease and experience the greatest sense of well being. This is a great preliminary indicator of the types of work you’d be most suited to and happy with.


Examples of jobs suitable for each quadrant (based on those in attendance at the workshop):

  • Task/structured — Researcher, Insurance Agent, Military
  • Task/unstructured — Landscaper, Designer, TV Producer
  • People/structured — Law clerk, Social Worker, Teacher, Admin. Assistant, Coach
  • People/unstructured — Musician, Daycare, Retail, Realtor

I’m task oriented and lean toward structure. Sounds about right for a writer.

Some writing requires structure, like journalism. Poetry is more unstructured, but I enjoy the constraints of a strict meter or rhyme scheme.

Organizing the novel over the past year has required almost too much structure, and there have been times when I felt stifled by it. I needed to bust out and color something.

Outside the lines.

As silly as it may sound, designing Henri, the mascot for my French blog, has been super therapeutic. There’s structure in the rules of how to design, but basically, everything I draw, free hand or on screen, comes from the creative side of my brain. There are no rules, no deadlines, no constraints.


I can draw an Eiffel Tower shaped cat if I want to.

If you need some structure but don’t have it, you’ll go crazy. So make a schedule. Set a goal. Outline.

If you’re stuck in a rut or feeling hamstrung by too many have-tos, bust out. Dump your alphabetized file out on the table and reorganize it by shape, mood, coffee stain size.

Maybe a fight will break out. Maybe one of your characters will make a discovery. Maybe what you thought was your climax belongs on page one.

I reorganized mine, and my protagonist ended up getting arrested. Serves her right. She was getting a bit militant in her goody-two-shoes-ism.


Find your comfort zone. Devote your best hours each day to whatever puts you squarely in the middle of it.


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