I’m the definition of a Type A personality: not happy unless I’m unhappy, ridiculously competitive, cartoonish in my impatience and probably raising my chances of heart disease with every stressed-out feverish keystroke I type.
A brief history of Type A if you’re not familiar: Cardiologist Meyer Friedman wrote in his 1996 book, “Type A Behavior: Its Diagnosis and Treatment” that three symptoms define this glorious creature: (1) hostility that is generally “free-floating” and can be triggered at the drop of a hat; (2) a level of urgency and impatience and irritation that is informally known as having a “short fuse”; and (3) a drive for competition which results in perpetual stress and an achievement-/success-/goal-oriented workaholic mentality.
Sounds like a blast, right?
During a nine-year study of Type A men in the 1950s between the ages of 35 and 59, Friedman and cardiologist Ray Rosenman discovered that being classified as Type A (versus Type B which is easy-going, reflective, creative and not bound to pathetic markers of status and success) actually doubles the risk of heart disease in otherwise healthy people. Yay.
But let’s be all Type A about this Type A article: This neurotic super-stressed personality type is known for being frighteningly organized, overly sensitive, deadline driven, nauseatingly proactive, terrified of wasting time and beyond annoyed with ambivalence. Do you like this article so far? MAKE A CHOICE.
I’ve come to accept who I am. I like how my drive drives me, and when I think of times in my life where I’ve tried to mimic all those grinning Type B-ers, I feel like I’ve lost myself. Oh look, there I am, going with the flow. Hey check me out, not totally wracked with guilt and incapacitated with self-hatred for having done nothing all weekend. I feel like a cat pretending to be a dog. It’s not me. And if it’s not you, here are some of my favorite ways to life-hack your Type A world:
1. Say “No” To Meetings And Ignore Your Black Hole Of Never-Ending Emails With People Who Want, Want, Want.
It’s not rude. It’s Type A, and this is who you are. You don’t like to waste time, and if you’re being successful in the whole workaholic thing, then there are a lot of people asking to meet with you or wanting a piece/a minute/a second of your time. Instead of saying “yes” so often, write back: “I’m focused on finishing a big project right now, but I can answer one or two short questions over email.”
Or use email auto-reply. Here’s one from an author friend of mine who is more productive than anyone I know: “Thank you for writing. In an effort to focus on writing the next book and spend more offline time with those I care about, I am no longer checking email. However, your email has been forwarded to my ace assistant. She will be reading all my emails, and responding.” Speaking of getting good help around here…
2. Get A Damned Assistant.
Try TaskRabbit or FancyHands to hire the freelance assistant of your dreams, double your productivity and keep yourself accountable. (Are you going to slack when you’re paying for a helper? Probably not.) Want to try a virtual international assistant? I’ve heard good things about TasksEveryDay. At the least you’ll get a good cocktail party anecdote out of the experience.
3. Deal With Human Beings, Instead of Time-Wasting Robots When You Need Customer Service.
Know how some companies have seemingly impossible-to-locate customer service numbers? Here’s a great life hack for fellow Type A’s: GetHuman will lead you to real-life human beings who can make an actual difference in what you need to get done. I can speak from direct experience on this one. Amazon was terrific to deal with once I finagled the phone number and stopped waiting for an email reply. Results!
4. Send Emails When People Will Actually Read Them.
Own that short fuse: I am impatient! I like results! I am not going to be ignored, Dan! So try Boomerang and you can write your emails ahead of time but get them scheduled to be sent when people will be most receptive to reading them. Nothing reeks of desperation quite so much as a rambling late-night “please, please, please” email instead of a short, cool, confident note that pops up at 11:34 a.m. on a Tuesday when your boss has accepted the fact that it’s no longer Monday, has a coffee or two in her, is enjoying picking out her lunch from Seamless and settled into her work routine. Emails are little burdens. They’re little shoulder taps. So if you’re going to be tugging at people’s coats to get their attention, do it in the strongest way possible.
5. Network Like a Boss.
One of the better Type A qualities? Being incredibly proactive. But there’s proactive, and then there’s TYPE A PROACTIVE. Here are a few of my favorite hacks: Try Newsle, which scans the top news sites and then lets you know if someone in your network comes up in the press. People notice when you send congratulations and “I’m so happy for you” emails. People notice when you are there in the good times and there in the bad times, not just the “I need a favor from you” times.
Here’s another killer trick. Meet someone at a party but didn’t get their card — or perhaps you have the impressive chutzpah to try a cold email? If you guess the person’s email correctly—here are the most common configurations:
—and then plug that email into Rapportive, check to see if the profile comes up. Did it work? Then, kudos, you’ve guessed correctly. You can also determine if the email is valid with: mailtester.com. Fool around with these two sites, and see what I mean — and I swear you’ll be impressed. Boom. You are hereby never helpless again.
It’s fun to embrace who you are, right? So what are your Type A life hacks? Or Type B life hacks? Or most annoying Type A person in your life? Is it me? I’m sorry if it’s me.
Mandy Stadtmiller is Editor-at-Large at xoJane.com.