Understanding your personality: balancing tasks and people
While personality tests and reading about personality types have been regarded by some as self-indulgent navel gazing, there is real value that comes from identifying your natural tendencies. Every personality has strengths and weaknesses, and understanding what yours are allows you take advantage of the strengths and create a plan to overcome the weaknesses.
The most popular personality test is the Myers-Briggs typology, but I’ve always been fascinated by the task-oriented versus people-oriented personality spectrum. Perhaps it’s because I am so strongly task-oriented, and I appreciate having a name for the focus I tend to place on my to-do list and getting things done.
As with all personality types, there is no right or wrong here. We need a balance of both personalities within society. People-oriented personalities build relationships and community, while task-oriented personalities get things done, and both are important.
Just like we need a balance of both to make the world go round, we also need to find a balance of both within our homes.
If you’re like me, your natural bent toward one end of the spectrum or the other may be so strong that you know without a doubt which personality type you are. If you’re somewhere toward the middle, you may have to spend more time thinking it through. But either way, it’s important to capitalize on the strengths of your personality while being aware of the weaknesses so that you can look for ways to improve.
Defining your personality type
First, let’s look at the characteristics of both personality types to help you identify which describes you.
Task-oriented personalities tend to:
- Focus on their to-do list and the things they hope to accomplish.
- Be concerned with productivity and efficiency.
- Have concrete goals and detailed lists.
People-oriented personalities tend to:
- Focus on the needs of the people around them.
- Be concerned with building relationships and keeping people happy.
- Place more importance on the feelings and happiness of people than on their to-do list.
Photo by omniNate
Although I am strongly task-oriented, I obviously care about my husband and my children as well. Understanding my personality means that I have to consciously take a step back from a project, idea or task to consider their needs and the time I’m spending with them so that I’m not neglecting those relationships in favor of my to-do list.
On the other hand, if you are strongly people-oriented, you may find that the opposite is true. You may need to figure out ways to balance your people focus with your responsibilities, whatever they may be. While it’s true that in 20 years you won’t regret taking extra time to play with your children, valuing our role as home managers means prioritizing the tasks that keep our home running smoothly as well.
So how do you find a balance between both focuses? Here are some tips for both personality types:
1. Schedule time to focus on the people around you and commit to setting aside your to-do list during that time.
2. Consciously make eye contact when your husband or children speak to you so that they have your full attention, even though you may be tempted to multitask.
3. Add relationship-building tasks to your to-do list, such as sending birthday cards, calling your mom or having a date night with your husband.
4. Go outside, to the library, or to a museum where you can just enjoy being with your family without the distraction of things that need to be done.
1. Get your husband and children involved in your chores. Turn on music and work together to get things done while having fun and spending time together.
2. Look for opportunities to get things done in smaller chunks rather than saving them all up to do at once. For example, you can wipe down the bathroom as part of your morning routine or load the dishwasher immediately following a meal.
3. Use the time you spend on the phone with your husband or a friend to do routine chores, such as folding laundry or dusting.
4. Rather than feeling like you have to choose between cuddling your little ones or getting chores done, use a sling, wrap or carrier to combine both.
How would you characterize your personality? How do you balance your natural tendencies with the needs of your family and your home?
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