Not many people understand the differences between the left and right brain, but they do know whether they tend to take a more logical, methodical approach to work, or if they're a more creative, spontaneous, out-of-the-box type. Of course, we're all a combination of both, but we'll usually lean more to one side or the other. Knowing how you prefer to work can help you greatly in your daily tasks, or even in your career choice itself.

First, you'll need to find out if you're left brained (the logical, practical side) or if you prefer the right (creative, unorthodox, free thinking). Some people will know immediately which side they fit to. Some may think they're one side when in fact they are another (it seems to be more glamorous to be known as a creative type, even if we know we really aren't!). The best thing to do would be to take a test to see where your preference lies - there are plenty available, both on the internet and in paper form. Once you know which side you prefer, or how biased your lean is towards either side, you can start using this new self-knowledge to do better at work.

The left brain

If you prefer left-brain thinking, then you are logical, detail-orientated, can spot patterns, and are probably good at strategising. The left brain "plays by the rules", so you may prefer finding a methodical, soundly-tested answer to problems.

If you favour the left brain, you may want to volunteer for tasks at work that take advantage of such disciplined skills. Costing, keeping and recording a budget, for example. Many accountants are left-brain thinkers, as are strategists and portfolio managers. You left brain can examine what has gone before to create an overall picture, or pattern, so it would also come in very useful for human resources tasks and performance management. You can see what caused problems for an employee or team in the past, so you can look to create a strategy to not repeat the same mistakes.

The right brain

The right-brain comes across as a bit of a maverick. If you prefer right brain thinking, then you don't process details as well as you process the overall picture. Creativity and imagination comes before logic and rules. This can sometimes be a drawback where, of course, in the business world, there are rules that have to be followed! It can also mean that right-brained people are risk takers, and can change their minds frequently according to their perceptions and "feeling", instead of hard data.

If you lean towards the right-brain, then brainstorming is probably your forte and you should be taking the lead in any creative input in your workplace. Presentations can benefit from your imagination and ways of interpreting dry information. Many designers and marketing executives are right-brain orientated, relying more on their imagination and fantasy than any hard and fast rules. Motivating and monitoring emotion in a team is also a right-brain facet, so you would make a good motivational speaker or team leader where others will take care of the small details.

The full brain

Of course, none of us have just a left or right brain, we're a combination of both - and that's what you should seek to be at work. Think of an accountant - the left-brain preference. Whereas accountancy is often maligned as "boring", the best accountants in the world use their right brain to look at the big picture and think of very creative loopholes, especially for tax reduction! Another example is that if you're a right-brained creative, and you come up with an advertising campaign, for example, the left brain needs to temper it with knowing the budget, how much time before it has to be completed, and the resources needed to finish the job.

Simply being aware of which side you prefer can help you assess yourself and the way you work. In your next appraisal, why not try taking a task "on the other side", do something you normally wouldn't do, and expand your skills to fit both sides. When both brain sides are used in tandem, it's the sign of a very effective employee.