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The WordPress Daily Post Challenge offers ideas each day for what to write about, and while I haven’t been using them regularly, one from a few days ago has been nagging me:

What’s the most important thing you’re putting off? And why haven’t you done it yet? What do you need to make it happen?

Somehow the question has transformed in my mind to “What is the most important thing that you need to address?” I’m thinking mainly in terms of writing, but the question has implications that go much further.

  • For me, the answer is obvious: Planning. As I’ve touched upon elsewhere, I am not a good planner. I’m getting better, but I know I’m ready to take the next step in learning how to plan not only my life better, or the coming year or week or day, but the next ten minutes!
  • The more I thought about the question, the more my answer grew to not one, but five interconnected “Ps” that I’m going to explore in turn during these last five days of January:
  • Planning
  • Prioritizing
  • Perfectionism
  • Procrastination
  • Perceiving

I’ll start at the end of the list: Perceiving, as in the Myers-Briggs personality preference.

Perceiving: Strengths and Weaknesses

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®) is a personality assessment based on the theories of psychologist Carl Jung that measures four areas of preference. A good, brief overview of the four areas is available at the Myers & Briggs Foundation website. What I’m most interested in here is the fourth and final pair of preferences involving structure:

“Structure: In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options? This is called Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).”

Every time I’ve taken either a formal or an informal Myers-Briggs assessment, I test strongly as Perceiving. The following description is from the Myers & Briggs Foundation website and is adapted from Looking at Type: The Fundamentals, by Charles R. Martin.

Perceiving (P)

To others, I seem to prefer a flexible and spontaneous way of life, and I like to understand and adapt to the world rather than organize it. Others see me staying open to new experiences and information.

Since this pair only describes what I prefer in the outer world, inside I may feel very planful or decisive.

Remember, in type language perceiving means “preferring to take in information.” It does not mean being “perceptive” in the sense of having quick and accurate perceptions about people and events.

The following statements generally apply to me:

  • I like to stay open to respond to whatever happens.
  • I appear to be loose and casual. I like to keep plans to a minimum.
  • I like to approach work as play or mix work and play.
  • I work in bursts of energy.
  • I am stimulated by an approaching deadline.
  • Sometimes I stay open to new information so long I miss making decisions when they are needed.

Here is a different list of Perceiving traits, from PersonalityType.com:

    Perceivers often: 

  • May have difficulty making decisions
  • Are playful & unconventional
  • Are less aware of time & run late
  • Prefer to start projects
  • Play first, work later
  • Want to keep their options open
  • Question the need for many rules
  • Like to keep plans flexible
  • Want the freedom to be spontaneous

And, from the same site, here is the list for Judgers:

    Judgers often: 

  • Make most decisions pretty easily
  • Are serious & conventional
  • Pay attention to time & are prompt
  • Prefer to finish projects
  • Work first, play later
  • Want things decided
  • See the need for most rules
  • Like to make & stick with plans
  • Find comfort in schedules

I enjoy being a Perceiver. I like approaching each day as if it is a maze that I meander through, always surprised at where it takes me. As a P writer, I can comfortably snatch new ideas as they pop up, and I enjoy have several new ideas and projects going at once. Perceiving traits helped me to take full advantage of self-directed learning in our homeschooling and be open to our son’s changing needs and interests.

At the same time, unless I consciously adopt some Judging traits and strategies, my days easily get away from me. I may wake up with a general notion of what I want to accomplishment, but because I like to keep my options open, all those open doors let in too much breeze so that my virtual to-do list (and let’s face it, for Perceivers the to-do list is nearly always virtual rather than real) is blown and scattered everywhere. Being a P writer means I start a lot of new projects but have a hard time following through and finishing them. As our son got older and I saw that he has more of a need for order than I do, and it was a challenge at times to adapt to his need for more structured learning.

My goal isn’t to convert from Perceiving to Judging (I don’t even think that’s possible). I just want to be more balanced and more productive, which will involve moving out of my comfort zone.

Are you a Perceiver or a Judger?

How does it affect your writing?

Tomorrow’s P Post: Procrastination