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Tips for Getting Organized in a Flexible Way

Posted 26 Oct 2016 by Catherine, MBTI Certified Expert & Organizational Development Consultant
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When we talk about getting organized in various aspects of our lives--work, school, home--one of the most important considerations is our Myers Briggs preference for either Judging or Perceiving. Those who prefer Judging tend to take a well-planned and methodical approach to life that can be characterized by starting things early, and following a structured plan with standardized schedules and routines. Let’s be honest: someone with a Judging preference probably doesn’t need my advice on “how to get organized” (they may need some pointers on being flexible, but we’ll save that for a later topic).

Those who prefer Perceiving also want to be organized, but their approach looks quite different than the J-driven style that we’re probably more familiar with. For example, they’ll often use a to-do list as a collection of suggestions with deadlines to ensure they don’t miss anything--and they’ll tend to follow their list in a casual, spontaneous way until close to the deadline.  Those with Perceiving preferences want to keep their options open to make sure they are following the best option, rather than commit to a pre-decided endgame in the beginning.

Getting organized doesn’t have to painful

This open ended style of organizing is largely seen as “less preferable” in the U.S., and thus Perceiving preferences often feel shamed for not doing things in the Judging way (i.e. jumping in and making early decisions, and quickly checking things off their list). But those who prefer Perceiving don’t need to worry-- their style of organization, though it looks quite different, can also be highly effective.    

Nevertheless, the truth of the  matter is that we live and work in a culture that heavily favors the Judging way. Regardless of type-based preferences, we all have to meet deadlines and follow schedules. And the mere complexity of modern life requires a some measure of structure--a productive person just has too much stuff on their everyday plate to approach life in a completely ad hoc, Perceiving way.

Get yourself a system that works

If you prefer Perceiving, the best way to get organized may be taking organizational steps that you naturally take (without any prompting from Franklin Covey), and then building from there. And the good news is that the natural Perceiving preference for list-making offers a great foundation. In some ways, a Perceiving-oriented list is more like a “bucket list” than a series of action items or steps toward a goal. But, with a little tweaking, those who prefer perceiving can turn those lists into productivity machines.

Tips to convert your “bucket list” into a “smart calendar”

Here are a few tips for taking your list-making to the next level:

Make sure you’ve got it all down.
You’ll naturally tend make “parking lots” that contain everything you’ve got to do. It can be easy to lose sight of items though, so try to review your comprehensive list frequently, and look for ways that you can subdivide it into a few basic categories (this will also help to ensure nothing gets left out)

Identify  items that have a  deadlines.
Once you’ve got it all down, go through and identify the items with deadlines. You might want to put  an asterisk next to those with the most pressing deadlines, and then frequently review this master to-do list to make sure you’re not missing anything.

Identify your energy time zone.
All personality types get things done on time, but we don’t necessarily do the work at the same time. People who prefer perceiving tend to be more energized and focused closer to the deadline. If this is the case with you, work it into your list--note the time when you want to start the project that’ll give you maximum energy and focus. If you work better towards the end, then go ahead and plan on doing it closer to the deadline.

Expect the unexpected.
Things always come up unplanned, so make sure to give yourself some breathing room in your deadlines. Err on the side of overestimating--if you think it’ll take 2 days, add an extra half day, cause that gives you a little wiggle room.

Block out your calendar.
If you’ve got a chaotic schedule--and who doesn’t these days?--don’t be afraid to simply block out time for projects that you know will require some intense focus.

Personality type should never hold us back, and it certainly isn’t an excuse for missing a deadline. So, by making a few simple changes to the way you are likely already doing things, you can greatly improve your productivity, using Judging skills, but in a Perceiving preference kind of way.