Pixies and Personality Type: Katie and Kelly McMenamin

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Katie and Kelly McMenamin

When I learned about the ways a person’s personality type affects the way they manage their time and space, I set out to explore this further by conducting a survey where I asked others to identify their own type, strengths, and challenges. The results of my research are documented here on Your Organizing Business.

I’ve recently come to know Katie and Kelly McMenamin, two sisters who share my fascination with organizing and personality type. As qualified MBTI professionals with different personality types, they really “get” this stuff. Recognizing that one-size-fits-all organizing solutions simply don’t exist, they developed their own system by taking the 16 types defined under the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and grouping them into the following four “PixieTypes”:

  • Classic “Traditional, Organized” (SJ)
  • Fun “Adventurous, Practical” (SP)
  • Smart “Inventive, Clever” (NT)
  • Organic “Idealistic, Creative” (NF)

Each group is further broken down into “Structure” and “Freedom” depending on the other type preferences.

Katie and Kelly have stopped by to explain these differences by describing their individual organizing styles and how they work well together.

Katie: Organic Freedom — INFP

I’ve spent much of my life envying people who seem to have it together — organized, on time, cautious, well-dressed (and without cat hair, lint, dandruff, etc. upon their clothes). The kind of people who have no problem working first and playing later.

As much as I have tried, (watching television WHILE I write this for instance) stray hairs are upon my clothes and I have never been able to be the strictly organized, on time, “work before play” person I have so much envied.

Turns out, those super “together” people I’ve been jealous of were born with innate abilities for discipline and order. It comes EASY to them because if they don’t do these things, they get anxious and annoyed. Life becomes hard. These people (my sister for instance) are uncomfortable being messy. They aren’t happy unless they are crossing things off lists, making sure their outfits are put together, their world ordered, filed away, clean. It’s simply who they are.

Not me. When it comes to being organized and together, I’m usually described as lazy, disorganized, forgetful, spacy, etc. And it’s mostly true. But I’m also mostly organized, usually on time, careful, stylish, and have an innate ability to finish projects at the last minute with great results. What I’ve found, and others discovered long before I was born — Jung, Myers, Briggs, Benzinger, Kiersey, Bates, Native American Mythology — is that, um, people are just born different.

We all have different personalities and preferences, and when we learn what they are and to follow and accept them, we can then put aside our preconceptions of that organized, prompt, well dressed example of perfection, and become a realistic version of being organized and “together” that works for us.

Yes, I like to watch TV when I do my “homework” and I do it late at night and not in the morning when my sister is hard at work and I’m often still sleeping. Yes, I don’t know where EVERYTHING is in my house, and I could stand to go through my closet again. But I know where my important papers are, I have a list of essential numbers taped to the inside of my kitchen cupboards, and I’m living the busiest time in my life (two kids, a new business, a writing career). It’s a very busy, very full, and very enjoyable life. And when I’m being myself, it’s easy.

So, when it comes to finding organization solutions for your home and your life, implement systems that work for YOU. If writing things on your hand helps you remember things, then do it, convention be damned. My sister saw Richard Branson (the gazillionaire) on CNBC the other day and he had a reminder written on his hand. Know and accept who you are (the real you, not the one you envy). If you do, you’ll find solutions come easier to you. It’s not magic, but when it’s done right, your life will sparkle with Pixie magic. Trust us. Life should be easy.

Kelly: Classic Freedom – ISFJ

Every once in a while, for inexplicable reasons likely related to tidal movements, I’m tempted to try to be someone I’m not. Yesterday, I felt like watching TV all day but knew I couldn’t as I had writing to do. I thought, “Hey, I know! I’ll be like my sister, Kate. I’ll finish my writing while simultaneously watching TV.” So, I tried to write this bit while watching movies all afternoon. I didn’t get farther than a few sentences and had to keep rewinding the movies. End result: I neither enjoyed the movies nor experienced the joy of crossing off “Write Blog” from my To Do list.

No matter how hard I try, I cannot be someone else. I work and then play, not because I’m virtuous or have superior willpower to Kate, but because it’s easier for me this way. If I don’t do it in this order, I don’t get work done and then I’m anxious and unhappy. That’s it. That’s the only reason.

I like to keep my house tidy because I can’t relax if there is obvious work in front of me, i.e., junk everywhere screaming to be put away. I’ll honestly never know how people can truly relax amidst clutter. I can tolerate things temporarily but eventually it grates on me and I must find a home for something.

So now you are probably wondering how anyone like me could possibly have problems with organizing. First, I am often super busy and therefore don’t always have the time to properly organize my belongings and the constant inflow (that’s when I start to stuff junk behind closet & cupboard doors or under the bed to avoid seeing it). Second, I get such euphoria from getting things done that I sometimes cut corners (if it isn’t work related) to get to the finish line.

My house almost always looks good on the outside but if you dig deeper into cupboards, closets or drawers, they are often in disarray. Part of this is because I’m busy but it also feeds into my impatience with getting things done. I often don’t take the extra time to plan out how to properly organize all of the various nooks.

When I first set up my linen closet, I did the bare minimum … a shelf for towels, a shelf with three wicker bins for mostly vitamins/pills, plus hair supplies, lotions and miscellaneous bath type stuff because I had nowhere else to put them. I knew where everything went even if it wasn’t immediately obvious to an outsider. It was a closet that could neither be commended nor ridiculed, but one that was often annoying to me.

There was the time I was searching for Tylenol, couldn’t find it so thought I didn’t have any and bought some more only to find the old (full) bottle hidden underneath something the next week. One bottle of Tylenol is obviously no big deal in the grand scheme of things but add this up over time and it gets … annoying. Then my husband moved in and he didn’t really get my organization and well you can see the results in the photo below.

As you can see when it comes to setting up organizational systems, my personality type sacrifices quality for completion. With the linen closet, I didn’t want to take the extra time to sit down, measure the shelves, figure out what height the towel shelves should be, if baskets might make it easier to get the towels in and out, what things I could buy to make more distinct homes and empty space for everything I would eventually need to jam into the closet. As a result, it wasn’t the most useful closet. But, once I sat down with my sister and redid my closet, I finally got it right.

Kate’s personality type enjoys process more than mine and isn’t in as much of a rush as I am to “get ‘er done”. She took the time to think about what I wanted to keep and retrieve from the closet, what made the most sense and then she tried a myriad of solutions to narrow in on the right configuration. Now, everything is easy to put away, retrieve, and makes sense to all who use it. I have baskets for folding items, heavy items down low, lighter items up high and then a plethora of labeled drawers for all of my pills and extra toiletries and it is indeed a closet to be envied.

You can learn more about PixieTypes at www.pixiesdidit.com.

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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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