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10 Totally Weird Behaviors Only Type A Designers Understand

Kevin Whipps March 31, 2021 · 9 min read
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Ever taken a personality test? It’s an enlightening experience, and one that I’m not sure I ever want to go through again. But what I learned when I took one was that I lean towards the Type A model, in that I’m competitive, ambitious, stupid organized, and sure, a bit impatient, too. But even with all that, I’m still not sure if I would be labeled as a classic Type A personality. But I’ll tell you what: I know Type-A designers when I see them. One of my good friends is deep in those weeds, and it’s gotten to the point that I’m wondering when she’s going to run for mayor. Seriously. And if you’re one of those people, or you aspire to be, then you probably already do some of these actions below. They’re not all positive, and some of them are downright self-abusive, but if you fit the mold, they’ll all sound familiar. And if not, maybe they’ll sound a bit weird.

Pitching All the Clients

I think that diversifying your income is an important thing. It’s one of the first lessons I learned when I started freelancing in 2009, after my main source of income petered out and my then-pregnant wife was laid off. Having multiple revenue streams is the way to keep yourself balanced in this tumultuous world, and that’s why I don’t just pitch clients, I pitch all the clients. Seriously, I’m always pushing to try to find another way to bring in income. I’ve got job alerts established at multiple places and contacts all over the place. Type-A designers know this routine well, and make sure that they’ve always got their feelers out.

Time Management Junkie

Because of our tendency to overload ourselves (more on that later), Type-A designers also are firm believers in time management. It makes sense: the more efficiently you can do your work, the more you can get done. And if you’re a workaholic anyway, what does it matter? For example, right now I’m finishing up this section with three minutes left to spare before I have to go take a shower. 12 minutes after that I’ll be on the road to my biweekly haircut, then off to pick up my daughter at my mother’s house. When I return I’ll eat dinner with the family, hang out with the kids for a bit, then resume work where I’ll likely write the next section. But knowing that my barber can take his time and run late, I may just bring my laptop so that I can get some work done while I wait. Time management is critical to a Type A, and that’s something I can personally attest to. And with that, my three minutes are up.

Getting Competitive

The Type-A designer wants to be the best, right? So they’re super competitive, even to the point of excess. They’re the ones that have Behance profiles that are packed with every project they’ve ever done, and always release their latest and greatest works. It’s a competition, after all. Although I don’t fall into this category myself, I have a few friends that do. One of them also enters in design competitions, mostly for the potential kudos and pats on the back from their peers. Does it work? Sometimes, and of course, like the joke goes: How do you know if someone wins a design competition? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.

Organized Beyond Belief

You don’t get to be an elite designer without having your life in order. That’s why the Type-A designer tends to be not just organized, but meticulously so. They don’t have a pen cup, they have a cup that holds two pens, two pencils (one mechanical, one graphite), a clickable eraser, white-out and spare ink/graphite for everything. And that cup always sits in the exact same place so it never gets lost. I’ve said before that I’m a little bit OCD, and I stand by that statement. Am I this organized? Well at the immediate moment, no, but I have been in the past, and I’m hoping to get there again shortly. It’s not just a goal, it’s a lifestyle, buddy.

Meticulous Obsessions

If only you could see the whiteboards in my office. I recently went through and created a calculation to determine how happy I was in various positions over the years based on three metrics: creative fulfillment, employer appreciation, and financial benefits. I call it the Personal Satisfaction Index, and it’s a ridiculous thing I do to try to figure out ways to make myself happier, because nothing ever seems to be enough. In fact, one could call it an obsession. And that’s another thing that might sound familiar to you. Being obsessive about something, no matter what it is: baseball, movies, or maybe even creating your own kind of personal satisfaction calculation. We’re weird. So yeah.

Marketing Themselves Relentlessly

If there’s one trait that doesn’t fit the Type A thing with me, it’s personal marketing. I’m not driven by my ego, but I do understand that being a writer and a designer means that if I want to be successful, I should probably promote my stuff every now and then. But one look at my Twitter feed shows that I’m a mess: I tweet once or twice a month, most of them are forwards from Instagram (where I’m also not exactly prolific), and my Facebook feed is mostly private. The real Type A’s have this one down pat. They’re relentless in their attacks, making sure to promote everything they do. Why? It gets attention for one, but also that looks good to a lot of potential clients and employers. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to list my social links on applications, because the volume of those requests is ridiculous.

Working 24/7

The other day, my six-year-old son came to me in the evening and said, “Daddy, can you play video games with me?” I was deep into a deadline and I needed the time to work, so I said, “Sorry buddy, but daddy’s got to work right now.” He dropped his head, went into the next room and told my wife that he was sad that I worked all the time and wished I would spend more time with him. After rolling a tear or two at my desk, I dropped my work and hung out with him on the couch to play video games. The following Saturday, him and I grabbed lunch together and saw Rogue One, just the two of us. Being a workaholic is one part of being Type A that I don’t particularly enjoy. It’s this unending feeling like you have to get more done, even when your reserves are tapped out and you don’t have anything left in the tank. It’s a drive I never felt in myself before I had kids, but now I do it because I’m so desperately scared that I’ll fail them. If there’s one behavior I’d kick voluntarily, it’s this one.

Overloading

So a little bit more about that fear of failure: it makes you overload yourself with projects. Am I guilty of this? Yeah. And it was only recently — like in the past week — that I resolved myself to change that bit about myself. But you other Type A’s out there know what I mean. You want to succeed so badly that you constantly take on more and more projects so that you can be the best one out there. And it’s stressful, but that’s what we live for, right? How do you fix this problem? Say no. Seriously, it’s some of the best advice I’ve ever received, and that’s helped me out tremendously. Find your balancing point, manage your time obsessively and make sure that you take on projects under realistic deadlines. Then you’ll be good to go and still be successful.

Nervous Habits

I don’t bite my nails. I used to, but I was a kid back then, and I’ve matured greatly. Now I just bit the skin around my nails. Yeah, it’s weird, and it’s not something I’m proud of, but Type A personalities like I lean tend to be a bit high strung and sometimes exhibit nervous behaviors. Why? It’s a way to manage stress, for one. And when you’re feeling impatient and unable to cope with what’s going on, a little self abuse is what you do. Do I endorse this behavior? Not in the slightest. But don’t judge me for it, either.

Pushing the Limits

Remember how I started this piece talking about a friend of mine that I figured would run for mayor someday? She just won a major award, and she did it by pushing the boundaries. A few years back, she started a second business in tandem with her design company that began small, then exploded into the amazing place it is today. She’s arguably the most amazing and inspiring person I know. And how did she do it? She’s fierce and determined. She does her research and makes sure she has the facts before she makes decisions. She takes what was a simple idea — wanting to work with other people instead of alone at your house — and pushes it to a whole new world. That’s what Type-A designers can do; no boundaries hold them back, they just get after it.

Rise and Grind

If you take one thing away from this article, that’s it: hustle. Work. Sweat the details. Push the boundaries and you’ll fit all the requirements to be a Type-A designer. And where will that take you? The top. Or a psychiatrist’s office, either one.
Products Seen In This Post: “Last of the Color Coding” by Juhan Sonin is licensed under CC BY 2.0
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Kevin Whipps

Hi! My name is Kevin Whipps, and I'm a writer and editor based in Phoenix, Arizona. When I'm not working taking pictures of old cars and trucks, I'm either writing articles for Creative Market or hawking stickers at Whipps Sticker Co.

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