Born Disorganized

Recently at work I had the opportunity to take the Meyers-Briggs MBTI test.  This test is born from Carl Jung’s psychological analysis, and measures what he considered to be four key parts of a person’s behavior.  My personality type is INFP, or Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving.  While most of that makes a lot of sense, the interesting thing was that I ended up 50/50 balanced in the last category, Judging/Perceiving. Basically, Judging/Perceiving is how you handle your time.  Judging people like to plan up front, don’t like surprises, and always know where they are on completing various tasks.  Perceiving people generally wing it, will get to something when it needs to be done, and can handle surprises pretty well.  As our instructor put it, Perceiving people can leave dishes in the sink to be done tomorrow.  Judging people will not, because it messes with their schedule.  So, according to Jung, it’s true.  Some people are just “Born Organized”, at least where time management is concerned!  Despite my close numbers, I’m a perceiver born and bred.  Planning is not something that ever came naturally.  I have no idea where I am with most tasks most of the time.  And this was fine, until my chemotherapy.  Where once at least I could juggle things, I now forget very easily and if I don’t write it down, I’m lost.  The numbers in my test are the result of my saying HELL YES I HAVE TO PLAN, IF I DON’T THEN I’LL TOTALLY FAIL!   It’s not that I’m naturally organized, I’m forced to be. Every day, I struggle to remember what needs to be done, to keep on track, to make some forward momentum. If you’re like me, and planning/organizing isn’t natural, there are things you can do to even the keel:

1) Live with someone who bends towards the Judging side.

I’m sort of kidding with this one, but boy would it help.  My husband is also very much on the perceiving end, maybe even more so than me.  Nothing tends to get done.  Then again, my father is on the Judging side, and he drives me batty.  So, maybe not.

2) Keep a task list, and check it every day.  Organize it if possible to note what’s important NOW.

My work task list is categorized and prioritized according to the old ABC Franklin/Covey methodology.  I concentrate first on things that are important, and each day I spend 10-15 minutes reprioritizing what’s left along with what’s been added the previous day.  Personally, I find electronic tools like Outlook tasks or Toodledo (which uses the Getting Things Done methodology) to be extremely useful.  My personal tasks are all on Toodledo, which I then sync on my smartphone using DGT GTD.

I once went to a psychologist who inimated that writing task lists, and especially organizing them, was a waste of time and only done as a procrastination tactic.  She wasn’t my psychologist for long.  Of course it’s possible to go too far and into procrastination land.  It’s also possible to go too far with just about anything, bad or good.  Many sucessful people find it important to set aside a small portion of their day to really look at what needs to be done, and what can be done first to make things clearer, less stressful, and more fulfilling.  I’ve found it helps me too.

3) Make reminders for yourself.

With my terrible memory on top of a propensity to just flit about and ignore what needs to be done, I have decided I am just incapable of making habits.  I have tried for years and years and years to make them, the only one I’ve ever had stick is taking my medications before bed.  I can’t even manage to regularly take the meds in the morning.  Night? Yes.  Morning? No.  Why? No clue.  

So, since there’s stuff I do have to do every day, I make reminders for myself.  I use my android smartphone, combined with a ToodleDo account and an app like DGT GTD to set up daily recurring reminders to do things, and have my phone beep at me when they need to get done.

  • 7:00 am – take morning meds
  • 7:00 am – put laundry in washer
  • 7:00 am – take out/plan dinner
  • 8:00 am – take vitamins
  • 10:00 am – organize mail (sundays)
  • 5:00 pm – go to gym (tues/thur/sat)
  • 5:00 pm – wash to dryer
  • 9:00 pm – take out trash (mon/thu)
  • 9:30 pm – roast coffee (every other day based on completion)
  • etc.

The phone beeps at me at these times, and continues to beep at me every 5 minutes until a task is done.   Sometimes, I admit, I’ll just check the box to shut it up.  Other times if it’s far enough away for me to ignore it, I do.  But, I still get better results than doing nothing at all.  Squeeky wheel gets the kick, as they say.

4) Automate where you can.

This is something that has truly helped me.  I’m terrible with finances because I forget to mind them.  Online bill pay is a miracle!  My bills go out once a month on the same day.  The money for them is shifted automatically into a separate checking account (so I don’t accidentally spend money that’s outstanding for my water bill or other bill that is sent by check).  It’s worry-free for me, so all I have to do is watch the remainder of my funds to make sure I don’t spend it all too early.  Services like and Pageonce can help you to keep on top of your full financial picture by emailing you alerts for upcoming bills and account balances.


Will this make you into an organized person?  Chances are, no.  Being born a Perceiver isn’t a bad thing, as long as you’re able to function that way.  If you do what needs to be done at the 11th hour and you’re good with that, awesome!  If you’re realizing that it’s not working for you, and your lack of organization is causing you stress, there’s really not a way to become a “born organized” person.  All you can do is learn to adjust.  And I’m not going to blow smoke up your butt and say you can just make new habits to compensate, because I know from experience that it’s not that easy for some of us to do that.  But there are tools you can try that may assist you in getting to a place that’s not so stressful.

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