What’s Your Space Style Preference?

If you’re an introvert, you’re not going to enjoy large crowds on a regular basis. If you’re an extrovert, turning down every invitation to socialise is going to leave you feeling frustrated and bored.

What if I told you that your preferences for managing time and space are just as ingrained in your personality as whether or not you’re up for going to a dinner party?

The Time & Space Style Inventory (TSSI™) was developed by Cena Block, founder of Sane Spaces. Previously, we delved into how to work with (rather than against) your time style preference. Now, we’re going to talk about how your particular personality type manages space.

The TSSI identifies six different space style preferences: Everything Out™, Nothing Out™, Minimalist™, Saver™, Straighter™, and No Rules™.

These six preferences can be broken down into three subgroups:

Ready to learn a bit more about each space style preference?

How You Arrange Space

An Everything Out person wants just that – everything out. They don’t want to just see what they’re working on today; they want to see what they’re working on next week and possibly even next month. This is because they don’t want to risk forgetting anything. If it’s in view, they know it’s an action item they need to complete - eventually.

The problem with this is that it can lead to overwhelm. What needs to get done first? What can wait?

For an Everything Out to be successful, they need to be highly organised and use storage solutions to ensure that everything is tidy as well as visible. It’s also helpful for them to evaluate their workspace on a regular basis to make sure that it’s as functional as possible, and allows them to feel like they’re mastering the work rather than the work mastering them.

Nothing Out person loves nothing more than a calm, clean, and uncluttered workspace. For them, it’s a matter of control. A stray file, an errant stapler, or even a visible office supply organiser can put them off their game.

But “clean” doesn’t always mean “organised.” Open a cabinet or drawer and you might see another side of the story.

Nothing Out people do best when they create portable storage solutions and barriers to curb anxiety, while still following best practices for organisation, like easy to understand filing systems and organisers to keep closets and drawers neat and tidy.

How You Assign Value

People with a Minimalist organising style don’t like clutter. Purging unnecessary items gives them a sense of control over their environment. The items in their workspace need to serve a purpose.

In a shared office space, however, Minimalists may clash with colleagues and be tempted to get rid of other people’s items without their permission in an attempt to get the workspace back to what they consider normal.

Minimalists will thrive by creating a clear, uncomplicated organising system, accepting the fact that they can’t control the way other people manage their personal items, and analysing what causes them to purge unnecessarily.

In a direct contrast to Minimalists, Savers save everything on the premise that they might need it someday. If someone needs a charging cord for a Nokia flip phone, a half used typewriter ribbon, or minutes from a budget committee meeting circa 2006, chances are good that the Saver has it.

Savers take comfort in the fact that they have everything they need, but they have so much of everything else that it can be hard to find what they need in all the clutter, there’s only so much space in which to save things.

A Saver can enhance their workflow by cataloguing, itemising, and labelling things so they’re easier to find, being honest with themselves about an object’s usefulness, and keeping bags and boxes handy so they can easily purge.  

How You Tolerate Disorder

Straightener believes there’s a place for everything - and if there isn’t, they’ll create one. Office supplies should be organiSed, contained, and clearly labelled. Papers should be stacked in neat piles. Everything is put back in its home immediately after they’re finished using it.

But again, clean and organised are two different things. Yes, the papers may all be in a neat pile, but if that pile contains everything from office memos to personnel files to takeout menus, it’s going to be difficult to find what’s needed in a timely fashion.

A Straightener can become more efficient by looking for aesthetically pleasing organising products, developing practical storage and retrieval systems, and keeping similar items together.

No Rules organising style doesn’t care what their space looks like as long as it’s functional for them. To a Straightener, it’s chaos; to a No Rules, it’s fine because they know where everything is, and that’s all that matters.

But too much clutter has a negative impact on overall well-being and has been linked to increased anxiety, stress, and even depression. And it’s hard for a person to be productive when they’re constantly surrounded by distractions.

For a No Rules person to become more organised, they should adopt an easy-to-manage storage system, enlist help from others who have better organising systems in place, start small and build up to bigger organising tasks, work in short chunks to reduce overwhelm, and build in regular rewards for a job well done.

The Bottom Line

You can’t change your preferences for managing time and space. They’re a part of who you are. The sooner you learn to work with them rather than against them, the more organised, efficient, and productive you’ll become!

Curious about your time and space style preferences? Take the Time & Space Style Inventory (TSSI™).

Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity, Become a Procedures Pro: The Admin’s Guide to Developing Effective Office Systems and Procedures, and Prove Your Skills! With a Powerful Professional Portfolio.