Have you ever thought about organizing based on your personality?
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Live intro - Hello my lovelies. It’s January, and you know what that means, don’t you? It means that loads of people are decluttering and getting organized, or at least trying to, so I thought I would share my two cents about that because, like everyone else, I’m working on that too. What’s interesting is how different personalities approach decluttering from planning to execution to follow up. It’s a fascinating process, and when you understand that every personality type does it differently, you’ll see why we often have conflict with those we love about decluttering and organization and how to avoid it to create a space everyone can live in comfortably and happily.
For those who are new to the podcast, when I talk about personalities, I use the DISC personality model of behavior and refer to people as D or Driven, I or Inspired, S or Supportive, and C or Cautious.
To start, it helps to look at the motivation for each personality type to declutter and organize.
For the D personality, decluttering and organizing is a challenge to be conquered. The I personality, if they know themselves well, knows that the more clear spaces they create, the more focused they can be. For the S personality, they want to create a space that supports their family well or, if they don’t have a family in their home, a space where people can gather peacefully and comfortably, and for the Cautious personality, it’s all about things being in their proper place.
So how do they actually declutter?
For a Driven person, it’s a thrill to go through things and toss them out to make room for the new. They tend not to be sentimental, so they may throw away things others might be horrified over like family portraits and heirlooms, which can cause conflict with other family members who find those things valuable, so it’s best not to put those people in charge of family treasures. It’s not that they’re heartless, they merely lack the sentimentality of others and will not miss the items like others will. Their mantra is “toss, toss, toss” until I only have the things I need and want around me. The challenge comes when they get rid of things that others in their life find valuable.
This happened after my dad died and my mom was packing to move to another house. My mom is not particularly sentimental, and one day I stopped by her house and all of our family portraits were in the garbage, and I was horrified. My mom’s response was that I was welcome to take anything I wanted, but she was done with them. I didn’t realize it then, but I did later that trait also explains why there were no boxes of artwork or keepsakes from our childhood, and when my brother and I moved into our first homes after college, we took anything we thought we might want. Otherwise, it was going in the trash.
The one exception to this is if the D personality thinks something might have monetary value. Now, please understand that these are the tendencies of the Driven personality, and D personalities often end up with people in their lives who are sentimental collectors, so they can either learn how others see things or they will end up very frustrated unless they come up with a compromise.
For example, I know many driven moms that are seriously aggravated and irritated by the amount of artwork their children bring home because they seriously don’t want to display it. Here are a few of the solutions I’ve seen Driven moms use to minimize that clutter, and though we’re talking about the Driven mom, this will definitely work for other personality types too.
One of the solutions is to get a frame and/or shadow box that opens from the front to display artwork. Then, the child gets to decide what artwork they want displayed and it’s easy to replace and/or rotate. That keeps things corralled and gives the child the power to change what’s displayed. I’ve included a link in the show notes of what I’m talking about. Then, when the child takes a piece out of the frame, they take a picture of it, and have an album especially for the child’s artwork. Some parents put a corkboard or magnetic whiteboard in their child’s room to display their art, and some use the pictures that they take of their children’s artwork to create books that display the pictures of the art without taking up wall space. If you have other ideas, I would love to hear them.
As I said earlier, for the I personality, if they know themselves well, they know that clear spaces translate into better focus, energy and output in every area of their lives. No matter how well an I personality knows themself, they will never erase their tendency to allow clutter to amass unless they find cleaning and organizing fun, which they rarely do, unless they have someone to work with to do it.
They want clear spaces, they really do, but the clutter seems to multiply on its own when they look the other way. If you’ve followed me for a while, you know that it’s a regular occurrence that I have a kitchen table that gets cluttered. That used to frustrate me so much, but now I have a system that deals with that situation. For me, I’ve realized that clutter happens no matter how I live but having clutter is not a moral failing. It’s merely a fact of life with my personality type, and before anyone comes for me, please hear me out.
I know some personality types think that I just need to have a better system or process to keep my table clear. I used to think that too, and I beat myself up over it, but guess what? That didn’t work because I’ve learned that we cannot criticize ourselves into success, but we can encourage ourselves into transformation, and that feels so much better than criticizing ourselves. I’ve gotten myself to the point that I can clear that table in 15 minutes, and once that happens, it’s amazing how everything starts to fall into place in every area of my life, because I start to feel a bit of control.
One of the most powerful things I learned about clutter is that clutter is the result of unmade decisions and/or a lack of follow through. Some of you may be thinking “duh”, because you know that, but I was someone who grew up in a house without clutter, so when I had to deal with my own clutter, neither my mom or I was equipped to deal with it effectively, and that’s part of why I do what I do. My born organized, task oriented mom could not understand her free spirit, people loving daughter, and it caused more conflict than it needed to, especially since a child psychology “expert” that she saw interviewed said to simply shut the door of your child’s room, and at some point their “natural” sense of and need for order would take over. Hah! Not a chance my friend!
So, what are the solutions? For me and most people oriented people that I know, working with someone is a huge help, and we need someone who can push us without destroying us because if you push a people loving person too far, they will shut down or explode, and in either case, it’s not helpful. I have addressed this further in both a blog post and one of my earlier podcasts. I’ll share both of those links in the show notes. The bottom line for someone with the I personality is to get them help and make it as much fun as possible, and I can hear people already saying that not everything needs to be fun, but I’m telling you that if you can inject some fun into the process, the I personality will jump in and do more than you can imagine. For me, if I don’t have someone to talk to, I listen to music and/or keep sessions short by working with a timer. It took years to figure that out, but it definitely helps me, and I’m sure it will help other I personalities as well.
The Supportive personality also benefits from help in the areas of decluttering and organization, but the person that helps them needs to understand the level of sentimentality that the S personality has, and that definitely ranges from person to person. I once helped a friend to declutter, and even as a person with a good helping of sentimentality in my own personality mix, I was shocked at how much resistance my friend had to throwing even the smallest things out. I honestly thought her problem was like mine, overwhelm, because there was so much to go through. It wasn’t until I picked up something that fit in the palm of my hand, was broken and I thought was insignificant and asked to throw it out that I realized the level of sentimentality people can attach to objects. My friend seemed horrified that I would consider throwing that piece out because someone who had passed had given that to one of her children, and even though she wouldn’t have known where that item was if I had asked her about it before I found it, when my friend saw it, she absolutely couldn’t part with it.
This is also why I find the show Hoarders so fascinating. So many of the people on Hoarders are S personalities and the hoarding almost always results from a traumatic event in the hoarder’s life, and they do everything they can to create a wall of protection around themselves, and when a friend or relative tries to help them, it creates so much fear that the hoarder absolutely freaks out. It’s only when you get to the root of why the person started hoarding, nothing changes, and some people are not ready to face that. If they are ready, though, magic can happen. I’ve seen so many transformations that I know for sure that clutter in all of its forms is an opportunity for transformation no matter what your personality type, but none so much as the S personality type because they love their people so much that they naturally imbue things with the love that they have for the person that gave them something, but when they can temper that so that they can adequately and lovingly display those items rather than shoving them in a closet or finding them at the bottom of a pile of paper, then they are letting those items shine and bring joy at all times, not just when they happen to find them in a frenzied search for something else.
And before anyone thinks this is a criticism of the Supportive personality, it isn’t by a long shot. I say over and over that we need to love on and protect our S personalities as much as possible because they are the glue that holds this world together. We need their ability to love people and care for people, so we can all thrive like never before. When they decide to declutter and organize, the S personality wants to create a space that supports their family well or, if they don’t have a family in their home, a space where people can gather peacefully and comfortably. They need help and support of their own, so let’s do that for them.
Moving onto the C or Cautious personality, it’s all about things being in their proper place. What gets in their way is that they want perfection, in their planning and their execution, so perfectionism can keep them from starting or finishing or both. It might sound weird, but circling back to the show Hoarders, perfectionism is often the greatest obstacle to getting people to start decluttering because there is a system and organization to the items in the home. It rarely makes sense to anyone other than the hoarder, and it seems unfathomable that perfectionism has any role in the mess that everyone else sees, but for those in the overwhelm of messes, perfection shows up in many ways.
I can’t do that right now because I don’t have time to finish. I need to get some bins, shelves, boxes or some other tool so I have a way of organizing everything. I know what I want to do, but I need to figure out how I want this to look. I’ve almost got it figured out. I just need to tweak it a bit. Look, the Cautious personality is hands down the best planning personality out there, but when they're out of balance, they can get lost in the planning and never launch, and if they do launch, they might not be able to stop because the C personality knows that it’s never perfect, and they can always make it better. It may look perfect to the rest of the world, except the other C personalities who feel the same way.
Again, this isn’t to run down the Cautious personality. It’s to point out the places where a C personality can get stuck in the process. When the C personality is on point, though, it’s amazing what they do. I know a C personality who owns more shoes than anyone I know, and for nearly all of them, they still store them in their original boxes. Oy! I cannot imagine that! They also have many of the toys from their kids' childhood, and they even have all the pieces. I’m lucky to have a few things that didn’t get destroyed, so I’m in awe of that. That’s the amount of order the in balance C personality can bring to the world, and goodness knows we need people out there like that to keep us all in line, right?
So, do you see your personality here? Most of us are a mix of two or more, and some of us even get to deal with three. A very few are what we call a level blend, but that is a very small percentage. Whatever the situation, your personality plays a role in nearly everything you do, and the better you know yourself, the better your life gets. Learn how the people you love move through this world, and your life improves exponentially because you reduce frustration and maximize success, fun, peace and order in all you do. Are you ready to get started on that journey?
Then go to the Moving Toward Better website, hit that take your assessment button and after you do, schedule your Personalized Personality Strategy Session. If you’ve already done an assessment with me, I have a special tune up offer for everyone on my email list, so if you’re not on that list, head over to the Moving Toward Better homepage and join our email community. There are so many wonderful things coming in 2024, and I would love to have you join us on the journey. Sign up and find out what it is. Love you all!
January is definitely the season for decluttering and organization, but it can be such a hassle if you are working with others, and they don’t do things the way you do. What if you could make that easier or at least understand why someone throws things out that you want to keep or keeps things you think should be in the trash.
What if this process could be easier? Have a listen, and let’s talk about it.
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