INTP Organizing Profile

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INTP Organizing Style

Today we continue our look at the organizing styles of the 16 personality types, with the INTP Organizing Profile.

INTP stands for stands for Introverted – Intuitive – Thinking – Perceiving. Since Perceiving-Judging is the dichotomy that addresses the way we deal with time and space, and this is the first profile we’ve featured with the Perceiving preference, I think you’ll see a remarkable difference between this one and the others that I’ve published so far.

If you’ve missed the previous posts in this series, I encourage you to go back and begin with Organizing for Personality Types.

INTP Organizing Strengths

Here’s what one survey participant reported:

“Generally what works is when I carry around a little notebook (the tiny ones with the rings on top) and write down whatever info I want to keep with me – appointments, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, addresses for places I’m going, impromptu to do lists when I start to feel nervous and overwhelmed. That way I don’t feel like there’s a wrong place to put info, or I have to decide where to put something (do I write down an assignment on the day it’s due, or the day it’s assigned??) and I know that I will have anything that was important to me all written down in one place if I ever need to find it.

When I run out of space, I go through the old notebook and rewrite everything that was useful or I think I might need in the new notebook. For really important appointments I use the calendar/alarm function on my cell phone.”

INTP Organizing Challenges

INTPs often face difficulties with procrastination and clutter, attributing the latter to not knowing where to put things.

In addition, they acknowledge the following difficulties:

  • Fear of throwing away things that may have future relevance and those that have sentimental value
  • Forgetting about birthdays, anniversaries, other special occasions, social activities, appointments, meetings, and tasks that aren’t on the “to do” list
  • Prioritizing tasks and activities

They’re often reluctant to have visitors due to clutter in their homes, and believe that others perceive them as disorganized. In fact, they see them themselves that way as well.

INTP Time Management Systems

INTPs are unlikely to use the structure of a formal planner system, and are likely to develop their own approach to using it.

One INTP reported using one paper calendar as well as two electronic ones. Another shared his experience as follows:

“In the past, I used a variety of PDA’s (Palm, etc.) thinking that the alarms would remind me to do things. In actual practice, the alarms wouldn’t be loud enough, and would go off at the most embarrassing and inopportune times… I also found the PDA to be useless if it wasn’t recharged religiously. The small screen real estate also never let me see “the big picture”.

Since then I’ve used a variety of day planners with a little more success (forgetting to do the “to-do’s” despite having written them down in the planner is a familiar refrain). Last year, I used the Harvard system and liked it because it would let me carry forward ‘to do’ items. On the other hand, it is a relatively complex system with a bit of a ‘learning curve’ attached. It’s probably the best system for a busy executive managing multiple projects across differing timelines, but not so for an average worker trying to balance work and life and the odd appointment.

This year, I’ve used the Day-Timer system, which is much simpler. Comparing the two, I’d say the week-at-a-glance layout (in the Harvard system) works much better for me. I find it easier to orient myself if I know what’s ahead for the week and the general direction I’m headed in.

I’ve avoided using the Covey system. It’s theoretically neat, but I find the “Quadrant” system of time management is a bit abstruse, hard to understand and apply.

This year I’m going to experiment with an organizer of my own design, and possibly even the D-I-Y Planner from Douglas Johnston (it’s free, and draws upon many organizational systems including David Allen’s GTD system). I’ll see how that little foray works.”

Their plans are mainly abstract and are therefore seldom specific or fully developed. When they do write something down, it is often imprecise and may seem incomplete to others.

Learn More

For more insight into the INTP organizing style, read about Smart Freedoms on Pixies Did It.

For a broader view of the INTP personality type, check out the following resources:

Keep in mind that we are all unique, and even people sharing the same type preferences will not be the same in every way. Personality type is only one factor to consider when developing organizing solutions for your clients.

Are you an INTP?

Help others understand your personality type and organizing style by answering one or more of the following questions in the Comments:

  1. What are your organizing strengths?
  2. What are your organizing challenges or weaknesses?
  3. What organizing strategies work well for you?
  4. What are your time management strengths?
  5. What are your time management challenges or weaknesses?
  6. What time management strategies work well for you?
  7. What type of calendar(s) do you use?

Photo © thodonal / depositphotos

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A former professional organizer, I now eliminate stress for my clients by hosting, monitoring, and maintaining their WordPress sites so they don’t have to worry about security, downtime or performance issues. When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, watching movies, and cooking.

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  1. Avatar Sabrina Quairoli on September 7, 2016 at 6:45 pm

    This must have been what my father was because he would always have a small notepad with him writing down notes and to-dos.

    The Covey method is great in theory but I understand why it doesn’t work for everyone. My husband took the class through work and found it quite informative but it was hard to implement.

    Always learning when I read your blog, Janet. Thanks for sharing.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on September 8, 2016 at 6:00 am

      It’s always interesting to try and figure out someone else’s type, but it’s so complex that even a trained professional can’t do it based on one habit or trait. I’m glad you’re enjoying the series though!

  2. Avatar Seana Turner on September 8, 2016 at 8:21 am

    I am a fan of having a way to capture ideas, but I have also worked with people who just capture everything in one disorganized place. This is a challenge when it comes time to retrieve and act. I worked with one client who I think fits this profile. We set up different notepads for each client (with their name on printed labels along the top). She couldn’t let go of her yellow notepads, but with one for each client, she could at least easily move between them and keep notes in order. Then the pages could be removed and scanned for easy access and storage. So important to find solutions that the client is comfortable with!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on September 8, 2016 at 9:16 am

      I think it’s very challenging to keep track of information for multiple clients, regardless of personality type. I’ve tried many methods over the years, and currently I put all my phone call notes in one notebook, but index them in the back so I can (somewhat) easily find my notes if I need to refer back to them.

  3. Avatar Whitu2 on September 25, 2018 at 9:49 am

    “They’re often reluctant to have visitors due to clutter in their homes, and believe that others perceive them as disorganized. In fact, they see them themselves that way as well.”

    I disagree…I feel organized. I know where everything is. It’s only when an ISTJ gets their hands into an INTP’s organization that an INTP loses things.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on September 25, 2018 at 12:24 pm

      Thanks for sharing! The information in the post was based on my research, including surveys I conducted, but of course not all INTPs (or any other personality type) are the same.

    • Avatar Kristian on June 30, 2020 at 9:09 am

      I’m an INTP aswell and I also “feel” organized, and am in my own way, but I still dont like to invite people into my office since it is from LOOKING at it, messy. I KNOW where everything is, but it just looks like a mess. Then as you say as long as an ISTJ (ISFJ in my case) doesnt get their hands in there its fine 😉

      • Avatar Janet Barclay on June 30, 2020 at 12:31 pm

        Thanks for sharing, Kristian! It’s always fascinating to read about different people’s perspectives.

  4. Avatar Kristian on July 1, 2020 at 2:14 am

    Here is another INTP answering the questions you ask at the end, hope it helps 🙂
    1. What are your organizing strengths?
    When using a todolist I can/must run a few projects at once. This means that it usually looks like I have tons of unfinished projects. But then I from time to time finish a bunch of them at the same time. So a “strength” would be to have many projects running at once… But for most this is usually seen as a weakness… point of view I guess… I am very good at creating a good organisation environment, both digital and IRL, but both systems usually get flooded after a while and fail.

    2. What are your organizing challenges or weaknesses?
    Keeping track of all my ideas. I have LOADS of ideas… ALL the time… And I have tried so many kinds of organisational systems and they all work a while, when they are new and fresh and not too many of my ideas have been scribbled into them. But sooner or later all systems I have tried breaks down. Keeping day journals, GTD, ipads, pen and paper, lists, todos, white boards… I dont know my ideas intertwine too much and each of them expand, which always makes it hard to keep it together and still keep every partial idea separated from the others. Also I struggle with the Digital vs. analog world. Many of my ideas need a little scribbled scetch with a few arrows pointing at stuff with explanation texts. But then all the technical facts I usually find online and I want to link that to whatever image/text I did on paper. Its a mess, and any one who has the same way of thinking, and figured out how to keep track of it all PLEASE LET ME KNOW 😀 (This article didnt give me enough clear suggestions to help me)

    3. What organizing strategies work well for you?
    I had an ipad running an old app called Penultimate that worked really well for me for many years. It was basically a big pile of notebooks (one for each “project”/idea that I could write with a pen in, but still keep it digital. I could make a pdf of any page or notebook and link into a folder with other links etc on my computer. Unfortunately the app was bought by Evernote and changed into something that didnt work for me anymore. And by that time the notebook pile had become so big that it was hard to keep track of it anymore anyways.
    I did try GTD but didnt find a good digital tool that worked for me. I have also tried mindmaps a lot, and they work, but again not one digital tool that works well in the long run. Ive bought a lot of kickstarted calendars that are said to help creative minds but none worked more than a few weeks. A simple small notebook with blank pages worked a while, but once I needed to change book It didnt work anymore… Bullet Journaling… Tooo muuuuch woooork… I mean move all my ideas everyday… cheesh! I would do nothing else than move ideas 😉 But again I might get into it again. Onenote SHOULD be good, I dont know I just dont seem to get into it, might be I use it work and dont want to combine the two?
    There was an online journaling system that seemed really promising, Notion, but it has a really big learning curve so I didnt have the energy to get into it either. I guess I have come to the conclusion that I wont find a tool, and therefor I dont dare to put energy into any new systems anymore.

    4. What are your time management strengths?
    None, I have tried many calendar types as said above. The one thing that has seemed to work for quite a while now, is to have a really strict schedule. I still do procrastinate from it from time to time, but by having a schedule that other people rely on me to do stuff is one of the few things keeping me “on track”…

    5. What are your time management challenges or weaknesses?
    A great challenge I got is that I usually do the thing that is in front of me or that someone comes and asks me to do. If I have something I have to do and I get interupted by someone/something else I just let that go and do the thing asked of me instead. I dont have the discipline to say no when asked to do something and that “fragments” my time and makes everything move slower. This might be why I have to have so many projects, because once I get interupted it is hard to get back into what I was doing, so I go and do something completely different instead…

    6. What time management strategies work well for you?
    As said above I have one scheduled thing each week, which is the publish of a weekly YT video. That is the one thing that I tend to keep be able to do. But then I also know that people rely on me to do that. So probably it is the sheer preassure that keeps me on track. 🙂

    7. What type of calendar(s) do you use?
    Right now I only use a digital one. Outlook for work, and a shared calendar on gmail with my family so I can keep track of parties and appoinments with the family. Both are synced to my iphone so I always know what is going on. Although I very rarely know what is happening in the day, and ALWAYS use a 15 minutes before alert. Otherwise I would miss most things…

    Well that was it, almost an article in itself 😀 The frustration of not finding that ONE organisation system that works is irritating, but I’ll just keep on looking I guess 😉

    Take care all!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on July 3, 2020 at 9:54 am

      Welcome back, Kristian! Your insight is very interesting. Unfortunately, I don’t know the answer to your dilemma (#2) but I’ve shared your comment with some of the organizing experts in my network and hope someone will post a reply that is helpful to you. Thanks so much for sharing!

      • Avatar Janet Barclay on July 3, 2020 at 9:59 am

        By the way, I just learned about Notion this week and I’ve pinned to to check out later. I find the trouble with any of these tools is the time it takes to learn them well enough to know whether it’s going to meet your needs. If you KNOW it will, then that’s fine, you know the time you invest setting it up and getting familiar with it will pay off in the long run, but otherwise, it’s just frustrating if it doesn’t work out.

    • Avatar Red on February 5, 2021 at 2:07 pm

      YES!!!!! I couldn’t have said this better myself. Nothing works for me and I feel doomed, so I have given up!

  5. Sue West Sue West on July 3, 2020 at 10:27 am

    Kristian –
    I am one of the organizing experts Janet reached out to. Reading your whole post, I’d say this, and then I’ll answer the question in #2. Similarly to organizing physical things, it is useful to organize the things that our mind comes up with (ideas) versus a category of “do today” versus “start this week so I can finish by the end of the month,” and so forth. It is also true that some of us (me included) need ways to keep the consistency going, so we continue using a system we learn we can trust – and to trust ourselves to keep using it.

    Question #2: Systems break down because …. of the reason I wrote above (packing in too much); no habits in your calendar for reviewing your list and setting up the day’s priorities
    lack of a safety net (how do you remind yourself to look at and review your list each day); and you’ve already discovered mindmapping, a great way to flesh out an idea so that you have smaller steps to put onto your list so that’s GREAT !

    I hope this helps. It’s kind of like a room in your home which is multipurpose so it can sometimes end up as the “just toss it in there for now” space. Untangle the purposes and you find the room again. Untangle the different kinds of items on your “list” and you’ll discover your system.

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