Have you ever tried keeping someone else’s home routines and failed?
There are lots of reasons that can happen, from a difference in situations (what works for a family of four will not work for a family of eight) to a difference in standards and priorities (some people care about dust and others are satisfied with clean bathrooms).
But one contributing factor to why plans that worked for your friend might not work for you – and vice versa – comes down to personality differences.
If you’ve tried a variety of plans – from custom to printable checklists to emailed assignments – and still haven’t found something that works, look to your personality type.
You might be trying to use a method and system that is incompatible with your personality type. Yup, it might not be the system. It might be you.
However, you’re not the one who needs to change! You just need to adjust the system to align with your personality and your priorities.
When you know your personality, you can more readily find what’s most likely to work for you, and you can also have more clarity and insight about how to customize your housecleaning routine to work for you.
If you don’t know your Myers-Briggs personality type, take the test here. If you’ve taken the test but aren’t sure the answer is right, read about how to find your personality here.
Here’s my take on what will work for each of the Myers-Briggs types. Of course many of the suggestions will fit multiple types, so don’t read only yours. All ’N’s will relate at least a little to the others; same for the ’S’ types. Js and Ps will see similarities and get ideas from the other types with the same end letter. The E/I distinction is much less important in such matters as the N/S and J/P.
Leave your comment at the end and share your type and what has worked for you!
ISTJ – responsible duty-fulfiller
An ISTJ mom has a strong desire to do the right thing and keep track of the details. She loves structured plans. Her strength is her reliability and consistency. Her weakness is her perfectionist tendencies. She cares more that she is fulfilling her duty than that everything looks just so.
Tips for ISTJs:
- Because you feel the responsibility of each thing you own, keep a minimal home look that requires little upkeep.
- Choose your top three priorities (like dishes done, floors swept, and bathrooms clean) and consciously call it a success when these are done. Don’t wait until everything possible is done before acknowledging your progress.
- Keep a basic, simple weekly checklist visible and work through it. Find one online you like and run with it; you have an admirable ability to simply work the plan once it’s in front of you.
ESTJ – down-to-earth project-manager
An ESTJ mom is practical, realistic, and driven. She doesn’t like to get off course or off topic and she always has a goal she wants to achieve. Sometimes a clean house is her goal, sometimes it’s just a means, but it’s not likely something she will ignore. She will likely prefer to schedule her tasks – because she will keep her schedule.
Tips for ESTJs:
- If cleaning is something you don’t want to do, make it a subtask to another goal: hosting a party, having people over for dinner, etc.
- You could add your housekeeping tasks to a Google calendar on repeat, as long as you don’t overfill it and you keep the tasks reasonable.
- Brain dump all the possible home-cleaning tasks you could possibly think of doing. Cross off the ones that are unrealistic, you don’t care about, or are not a priority right now. Star the ones that should be priorities. Make a prioritized housecleaning list from your brain dump and give yourself a rate at which you should work through it.
ISFJ – nurturing memory-maker
An ISFJ mom is supportive and nurturing, always seeing individual needs and doing her best to fulfill them. Because she prefers a supportive role but is good with details, an ISFJ is better at implementing someone else’s plan than creating one herself. She will prefer a clear-cut plan rather than a loose big-picture concept, but will be able to work a checklist better than most other types.
Tips for ISFJs:
- FlyLady, Motivated Moms, or [Clean Mama] lists will work well for you – choose the one that appeals to you most.
- A printed checklist will probably be better than emails or a digital app.
- When feeling unmotivated, invite someone over.
ESFJ – dynamic social butterfly
An ESFJ mom loves to take advantage of teachable moments, relationship-building opportunities, and volunteer needs. An ESFJ will find it easier to start with an “official” checklist she has found, incorporating it into her own creative calendar or planner with her own flair. She will find ways to involve everyone in the housecleaning, not because it’s fair, but because she loves having everyone working together and dislikes working alone.
Tips for ESFJs:
- Have special cleaning music that sets a lively, fun mood during your chore time.
- Find someone to work alongside – your kids, your husband, or even trade housecleaning days with a friend. Celebrate together when the list is done.
- Whether you make your own cleaning list or use someone else’s, remember that cleaning is on-going maintenance in service to others; this perspective will keep you grounded and buoyed.
ESTP – adventurous adapter
An ESTP mom is enthusiastic and loves experiences and projects. She thrives on situations that require risk, strategy, and competition. She will likely be so caught up in other goals and projects that she neglects mundane chores.
Tips for ESTPs:
- Instead of working from a cleaning checklist, assign a room to your cleaning time, make an end-point goal, give yourself a time limit, and go all in.
- Instead of daily small tasks, you’ll likely prefer a bigger, less frequent clean; a bigger project will feel more fulfilling and it will also leave you with larger swathes of time to focus on your other projects.
- Talk through your needs and situation with your husband; perhaps sharing the housework or hiring help will work better. If not, find a way to engage with the work without thinking of it as mundane and tedious.
ISTP – reflective diy
An ISTP mom is less authoritarian but also naturally flexible. She loves growing her skills and using technology. An ISTP will likely enjoy the challenge of creating and optimizing a housecleaning system, but she will struggle implementing that system.
Tips for ISTPs:
- Make a flow chart of the necessary cleaning and maintenance that needs to be done and create your own system for addressing each piece.
- Don’t assign each task to a day or time, but use your list as a schematic to help you assess while also looking at the actual situation around you. Perhaps choose 2-3 tasks per day or 5 per week (depending on the scope of your tasks), but give yourself flexibility of execution in the day-to-day.
- Make sure you have the tools you need, and keep them organized in a toolkit, bin, or special cupboard. You will be invigorated by using the right tool for the right job.
ESFP – fully present performer
An ESFP mom is friendly, outgoing, and attentive. She creates beautiful situations or experiences naturally and flawlessly. An ESFP’s housecleaning begins and ends with her aesthetic vision – once she visualizes how she wants the room to look, she will make it so. She will not require a rigid checklist, just reserved time and an end-goal.
Tips for ESFPs:
- Require that your cleaning tasks be checked off before you can rearrange or redecorate. Don’t get caught changing up the shelves or flowers in leu of actually cleaning.
- Before freaking out about the state of a room, step back and take in the big picture, not the minute details. Prioritize from there.
- Need motivation to clean? Host a party.
ISFP – generous helper
An ISFP mom is quiet yet responsive, enjoying a life with her family without being overbearing. If she has a cleaning list, will have a beautiful printable on her fridge. Far more likely than cleaning too little, she will tend to clean too much, gliding around the background, fixing everything that’s askew quietly and quickly. Her home is not likely to be out of hand, at least not for long; instead, she needs to consciously build in rest.
Tips for ISFPs:
- Remember that knowing how to do basic home chores is a life skill and gift for your kids; don’t do it all for them, but take the time to teach them.
- The goal of housecleaning is to set the stage for the action of life, not to have a perpetually clean stage; clean between acts, but refrain from jumping in and cleaning while the play is in progress.
- Set aside time at the beginning or end of day to simply, quietly be in one of your favorite spaces in the house and enjoy its coziness.
INFJ – understanding supporter
An INFJ mom is committed to her vision of a harmonious lifestyle full of love and understanding. Although she’s easily overwhelmed with details, she craves structured routine. An INFJ needs to make sure her plans get out of her head onto paper, so she can think through what needs to be done with less overwhelming perfectionism. She loves being on a team, so she will enjoy email challenges and tasks, especially if she has friends doing them too.
Tips for INFJs:
- Often feeling conflicted about housework, you want both order, predictability, as well as the spontaneous flexibility to choose what seems right in the moment. This makes most pre-determined plans difficult for you.
- If you need some outward structure, look for it with a community, not a solitary checklist. Because you enjoy identifying with others and pulling together toward a common goal, working on the same things at the same time helps propel you forward.
- Connect the housework to the people and see how they affect one another. Get clear on your “why” for doing the housework and also the “why” for the repetition of the housework.
ENFP – spontaneous idea-generator
An ENFP mom loves to say yes to fun – and often has a hard time with the mundane details of life at home. An ENFP needs a clearly written plan to help her stay on track, but it needs to be full of variety and allow room for adaption and flexibility. The surprise of a new email with an assignment will encourage motivation, so FlyLady or Clean Mama will appeal to her.
Tips for ENFPs:
- Try a service that will email you a new task each day or week; this will be more motivating than seeing it all laid out ahead of time.
- Get the kids or your husband on board, turn on music, and make it a cleaning party with a clear reward at the end. Use a timer so you know it won’t last forever, and give it all you’ve got for that limited time. You’ll be surprised at what you accomplish.
- Don’t get too specific on what needs to be done when. Have a guideline and allow yourself room to exercise your intuition in its execution.
INFP – tuned-in connector
An INFP mom is perceptive, understanding, and sensitive. A checklist list will not come naturally to her, but with practice, she can derive great benefit and direction from it. An INFP will avoid decision-making, being easily overwhelmed, so she will do best with an online community resource that makes the decisions for her and keeps the ideas behind the plan front-and-center, helping her stay on track and inspired.
Tips for INFPs:
- You might be drawn to adopting an app-based routine, but be sure to keep it simple and clutter-free.
- You will stick to your plan better with accountability, either of a community as in an online challenge or with a single friend. That is, if you have a plan.
- Find a cleaning plan already made that appeals to you. It’s ok if you try one and it doesn’t work. Look for another one to try. Changing up the plan you follow regularly can help you stay engaged, as long as you don’t have to create the plan from scratch yourself.
ENFJ – enthusiastic mentor
An ENFJ mom needs to connect her tasks with big ideas. The more she can see how the mundane details support her vision, the better she’ll be able to follow the list. An ENFJ will need to make her cleaning list personal and flexible. It is difficult for her to find the balance between giving up on constantly maintained order and being fussy.
Tips for ENFJs:
- Try keeping a master list of cleaning tasks and choosing 1-3 each day, writing them on the day’s list that morning. Loop scheduling your tasks with flexibility will help you stay engaged and also see progress without feeling confined.
- Connect your tasks to your people and be aware of the purpose behind the mundane tasks. Know that entropy is not personal.
- Schedule a phone-call appointment with a friend and use a wireless headset to chat while you clean.
INTJ – determined director
An INTJ mom will have her own (highly-researched, well-thought-out) way of doing whatever she sets her mind to. Planning, for her, is the easy and fun part; doing the plan each and every day is draining and difficult. An INTJ desires the most effective, complete, and efficient system, but resists tedious tasks, preferring delegation whenever possible. Much more aware of the state of her mind than her house, she will need to consciously step back and deliberately look at her home before she will have success there; however, the allure of success will help her make that leap.
Tips for INTJs:
- Read a cleaning book at least once a year to stay engaged. If you’re starting from scratch, find 5 books to at least browse, including one that has a philosophical, idealist bent to satisfy the “why” question.
- Keep the tasks small and specific so it’s clear and simple to check them off rather than overwhelming to think about starting.
- Make sure your day is not exclusively routine tasks or people-oriented tasks; find a project with a creative or intellectual bent to keep your mind engaged and active, even in the mundane duties.
- Audio books, podcasts, and other audio-learning material can turn your tedious chores into life-of-the-mind time and make it more enjoyable.
ENTJ – decisive administrator
An ENTJ mom does not believe in impossible once she’s decided to do something. She makes things happen, always in line with her guiding principles. An ENTJ will have a streamlined, effective, thorough cleaning routine. She will involve everyone in the plan and ensure that the most work gets done in the least amount of time.
Tips for ENTJs:
- Bring everyone in the house on board with your cleaning routines, but always supervise and also keep it contained to set times, not any or every time you feel it needs to happen.
- Declutter, declutter, declutter to reduce frustration.
- Find out-of-the-box solutions to your obstacles; you’ll find tremendous satisfaction in creating an effective solution for your situation, even if (or especially if) anyone else would think it weird.
ENTP – unconventional negotiator
An ENTP mom has confidence and energy to spare. She is good at seizing opportunities, but not good about following through on details. An ENTP needs a firm picture of her end-goal so that she can improvise in the day-to-day. She will work best from a set of weekly or monthly goals that are more big-picture than specific, small tasks. Tracking actual work toward those goals will help her stay on track while winging it in the moment.
Tips for ENTPs:
- Set up your cleaning list with a visual progress tracker so you can see a consistency streak or see progress toward a goal.
- You will want to make your own list and find your own way, but you’ll end up spending all your time on system-devising and little on doing anything, probably ending up with something too complicated to actually work. Start with a program or a printed checklist and adapt.
- Because you are not in tune with your physical environment and you are highly distractible, you might simply need to outsource and delegate housework.
INTP – intellectual researcher
An INTP mom values her own knowledge base and is good at doing what she knows must be done rather than figuring out what needs to be done. Because she can see all the possibilities, it’s better for her to follow a premade, reasonable checklist that is clutter-free and straightforward. On the other hand, because she lives much more in the world of ideas than the physical world, she might just need someone else to take over the cleaning.
Tips for INTPs:
- Have a basic checklist like the one from Motivated Moms and delegate chores to your kids if possible. Assign a block of time for following through on the list, together if possible, and then move on.
- Pause, stop, and actually look at the room before you begin cleaning. Pause, stop, and actually look hard at the room after you are done cleaning. Notice the difference, appreciate it, let that sink in. Eventually, your intuition will start detecting that your environment is off and prompt you to take care of tasks if you take the time to train it in this way.
- Use cleaning time for podcast or audio book listening, which you always want more of anyway.
No matter what your housecleaning routine,
no matter how you keep track of chores,
you have to actually do the work.
Sweep & Smile, a 6-week accountability program, will help you establish your minimum viable routine and then actually practice it, with the emphasis on practice.
Whatever we practice, we improve.