Comparing Hopper Style vs. Hyper Focus Time Style Preference
At first glance, Hoppers appear to be masters of multi-tasking.
They move easily between To Do’s and seem to be getting things done. The operative words here are “seem to be”. Upon closer examination, though, many Hoppers aren’t deliberately switching between their priorities instead they’re bouncing between tasks as a distraction from what they mean to do.
Learning to manage your priorities is a major indicator of managing your time effectively.
Therefore if you’re a natural Hopper Time Style Personality, you need to learn how to hop productively.
The good news is that if you desire frequent change-ups in space or pace, you can still stay on top of things if you focus on the most important items.
I lovingly refer to Hoppers as ‘adrenaline junkies’. Another way to see them is those who need ‘brain candy’ to keep things interesting. While Hoppers are amazing at juggling multiple tasks, they may not be as productive when their hopper tendencies are distracting as opposed to focusing their attention.
I had this Hopper client…
Suzie, a client of mine, is the director of a non-profit agency that works with musicians in her small town. She is also a song-writer and performer, and along with coaching other artists, books them in area venues. She constantly needs to switch hats in order to manage all the different aspects of her business and still make time for her own creative pursuits. We worked together on the management side of her business, and I was fascinated with how attuned Suzie was to what kind of mental space she liked to be in in order to do the different kinds of tasks required of her.
She told me how she would transition throughout the day from left-brained, technical office work to more imaginative studio priorities by tuning in to how she felt at the moment. When her energy flagged she took a short break or moved to something less demanding but equally important. That way, she could proceed through her day efficiently, matching tasks activities to the best moment to do them. In addition, when she wasn’t able to stop or change what she was doing because of deadline pressure, by staying aware she could focus on what she needed to do at the moment to keep up her energy.
Comparing Hoppers and Hyper Focus Time Styles
On the opposite end of the attending to details continuum of are the individuals with Hyper Focus styles…
They find it easier and more satisfying to stick with one thing until it’s completed. This is not a problem unless their schedule is too crowded and they must move on to other priorities. They might find it difficult to break out of that intensely absorbed state of mind.
I had this Hyper Focus client…
Mike is a graduate student with a very full schedule. He plans his evenings well but rarely finishes the tasks he sets up for himself. Typically he doesn’t heed his own time parameters to stop an assignment at a certain time and move on to the next.
Additionally, Mike resists transition points, particularly when he’s in the middle of doing something interesting. Transitions are not really in sight when he’s focused and fixated on refining and perfecting work.
He asked me to help him devise systems to stay on track while getting more things done. We began experimenting with timers. He set timers to alert him when he was nearing the end of his allotted work time.
As much as he wanted to succeed, interestingly, he ignored bells and buzzers. Even more so if he was concentrating deeply or otherwise involved in tasks. Ignoring a timer is often related to losing track of the big picture. To address this, he needed to enhance his attention to the timers. And context helped him.
Adding Context Helps
When comparing hoppers and hyper-focus time styles context matters. Both styles tend to forget the ‘big picture’ and lose track of time passing.
In order to connect to context, he needed to plan and prepare so he’d pay more attention to the timer alarm. He started to “chunk” his work into 20-minute segments. After 2 back-to-back sessions, he was more likely to “come up for air” at regular intervals. So he experimented and found that after two 20 minute segments, a visit to the restroom, a wiggle break or a water refill was enough to help him pay more attention to the timer.
Additionally, he also uncovered some proverbial rabbit holes. His particular sticking points were related to his strongest interests. Or when he could focus on finishing touches to make something “perfect”. Then he could set aside time for the deep work – and consequently, get more accomplished.
Mike works diligently to manage his Hyper Focus style when studying, but his ability to focus on research and produce good results is strong and rewarding.
Can You Relate?
- When comparing hoppers and hyperfocus, where do you think your style lands?
- Take a moment to notice what about these two style preferences resonates with you?
- Do you have any examples, tricks, or techniques to share of your own?
- I invite you to pull back the curtain and reveal your techniques that work to manage your time in the comments section below!
Once you identify your time style personality preferences you can begin to take steps to integrate more Flow into your experience.
The Time & Space Style Inventory™ (TSSI™) is an online assessment tool that evaluates your organizing personality type and your time management style preferences. It helps you determine your natural approach to how you manage priorities, attend to details, and take action.