What Sort Are You?
Does this sound like you?
It feels like each day is a new battle to get stuff done.
Everyone else has it so together, why don't I?
I don't even know where or how to begin!
Living in chaos and disarray is not fun. It robs your energy, it inflames your relationships, it slows you down, it stresses you out.
Sending out a SOS? Then check this out...
When we work against our brain types we can find ourselves on an uphill climb. On the flip side, when you work in harmony with your natural proclivities, chances are you don't give the task a second thought. It just happens with little cognition or effort.
Once we understand where you are coming from, we can get you where you want to go. Let's get started by assessing your preferences. Why not work with your brain instead of against it. So what is your dominant brain type and how does it affect your behaviors?
Take the Dominant Brain Type quiz and Sensory Preference Assessment to find out (note there are two separate assessments). Just complete the form below and then click on the link to be on your way. Once we have the results we can craft a plan to create the home life you desire.
Be sure to look for and take both assessments after you complete the form.
What does this all mean?
Brain function research has identified that the four thinking quadrants of the brain or cerebral cortex map to how we process information. Our dominant quadrant will dictate our natural behavior responses. Of course, we draw from all parts of the brain (or at least we hope), yet typically attributes of one side of the brain or one quadrant will stand out. Yes all of this is an oversimplification and there is some controversy regarding brain function; however, from what I have noticed, applying some of these strategies can make life easier.
Regardless of your brain type these general tips will help you get on track and stay the course.
- First reduce the clutter in your head by making action lists. If you get the information out of your head and recorded somewhere that makes sense for your brain type, you will have less to remember. Fewer jumbled, pressing thoughts reduces stress and overwhelm (see ideas below for list making). And best of all, for those who are more kinesthetically inclined, enjoy the satisfaction when you cross finished tasks off the list.
- Use visual or audible timers or alerts (depending upon your preferences) to keep you on schedule or to stick with the task until the time is up. Set the timer for short spurts for relatively frequent breaks, then rehydrate, exercise, get a protein snack, take some deep breaths, meditate or go for a stroll. Avoid unnecessary distractions such as checking emails or getting sucked into social media.
- Ensure you have had a restorative night's sleep before embarking on any rigorous or demanding organizing project. Lack of sleep will set the stage for a challenging and less fruitful endeavor unless the task you choose is completely mindless.
- If the project feels, looks or sounds too big, break it down into bite-sized pieces to avoid feeling the avalanche and to fit into your available time-frame. Start with a small area of the room, one surface, or even one corner of the surface. This will yield quicker results and a more immediate sense of gratification.
- For greatest productivity, ensure proper climate control, good lighting, and comfortable furniture
- Be sensitive to times that you tend to be most productive? Are you an early bird? Night owl? More alert in the morning? Ready for siesta in the afternoon? Schedule brain intensive activities for those times where you are at your personal best. Save the mindless tasks for the hours when you know your physical and emotional energy are waning.
The Logical Types
As illustrated in the diagram, dominance in the left anterior (front) region equates to a Logical/Executive personality inclination. Think of this as the CEO, financial analyst, or engineer. If you find this is your strength then you prefer prioritizing goals and objectives, fact-based problem solving and decision-making, research and analysis, delegating, competition, hard-work, and emotion management.
At work, you likely prefer the aid of an assistant to handle your administrative tasks while you attend to the bigger picture. At home, family members, a housecleaner or organizer are your saviors keeping the household running shipshape.
The Orderly Types
Dominance in the left posterior lobe renders an Orderly Type also known as the Maintaining style (the organizer, planner, administrator). Your strength is sequential routine activities. Orderly types tend to be dependable, methodical, organized, timely, predictable, honest, and stable.
If you are an orderly type, you are naturally organized, but when a situation occurs that throws you off balance i.e., a birth, death, divorce, new job, illness, home renovation project, then watch out. You can be easily overwhelmed, and might need a hand to get back on track.
The Creative Types
The Creative, Innovative or Envisioning Type finds their strength in the right anterior lobe (the artist, composer, architect, interior designer).
If this is you, you are imaginative, artistic, intuitive, a big picture spatial thinker, innovative, expressive, spontaneous, and visualize often in 3-D imagery. And you know what you need is in that pile over there, but you may have a hard time putting your finger on it when you are in a rush to get out the door. You could benefit from some snazzy visuals or fun storage ideas for a fun way to ensure you get and stay organized.
The Social Types
And lastly the right posterior lobe is home to the Social/Harmonizing Type. Peace, spirituality, goodwill and personal connections are trademarks of this brain type (teacher, nurse, spiritual leader, community-outreach coordinator). As a Social type, you prefer to work in friendly environments where you can chat with others, work at your own pace, and your nurturing side is sensitive to others feelings and well-being.
If you are struggling to find your way to organization or maintain it, then a buddy system would be your best bet to get things done. As long as you have company and maybe a glass of wine, you are ready for action, just don't forget that your friend is there to inspire not distract you from getting things done.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Once we assess your dominant brain-type, we can determine the best plan of action for making your space work for you. I also like to factor in your personality preferences. Are you visually inspired? An auditory processor? A kinesthetic (hands-on) learner? Working in accordance with how you process information means that you will not only learn it faster, you will be more likely to retain it and use it.
Most of us have elements of each of the 4 regions of the brain as well as each of the processing preferences, but we will want to align with where you draw your strengths to affect lasting changes. The task becomes a bit more interesting when meshing multiple types in one household or office. But no worries, there are ways to effectively manage multi-user spaces.
Ordering Spaces Based On Your Brain
Arlene Taylor, Ph.D. provides some examples for how you might want to think about ordering your spaces in relation to your brain "bent" as she refers to it.
For the left hemisphere of the brain:
- Minimize time commitments and stuff to avoid overwhelm
- Stick to routines as much as possible
- Talk through difficult tasks to peel them apart
- Put things into context to create order out of chaos
- Process sequentially
- Neatly filed papers/file folders
- Use music or podcasts to stay motivated
- Use reminder alerts
- You see the details, but can miss the bigger picture, may need assistance for seeing the forest
If you find yourself as a Logical Type or in the Prioritizing Division (as defined by Arlene) then your desirable environment and accessories might look like this:
Colors: black, white, gray, and navy
Practical, comfortable furniture
Items stored neatly out of sight or in baskets/bins
Machines and mechanical tools
A computer for research projects
Scales and calculator
Charts containing numbers and percentages
Abstract photos of arrows
A list of goals and objectives
A five-year plan
Structured music (e.g., slow movements of Bach, Mozart, baroque compositions).
The Orderly Types desired environment and accessories include:
Colors: neutral or subdued
Practical, comfortable furniture
Items stored neatly out of sight or in baskets/bins
Filing cabinets with labeled files
Desk with organizing bins and file sorters
To do lists, list templates to save time
Electronic or paper calendars
According to Dr. Taylor the music is of a more traditional style.
For the right hemisphere of the brain:
- Avoid routine to stave off boredom
- Set mood or cerebral music to energize, center, or calm or podcasts
- Colorful, crafty files
- Use images for labeling
- Use Sticky Notes
- Allow yourself opportunities to re-envision your spaces to keep them interesting
- Draw out ideas, run them by others if you need reassurance
- Be mindful of odors or use pleasurable scents, essential oils
- See the whole picture more than details so stick with broad categories
The environments and accessories of the Creative/Envisioning type include:
Airy, unstructured spaces with plenty of flat surfaces for stacking
A computer to assist with creativity and managing data
Reading corner with a wide range of topics
Large sheets of paper, pencils, erasers, and markers
Caricatures and cartoons
Fun furniture, accessories and/or pillows on the floor
Jazz or baroque music
The spaces of the Social/Harmonizing type might look like this:
Colorful, cozy, and fun rooms
Photos of friends and family
Inspirational books and pictures
Plants, candles, and stuffed animals
Rhythmic, melodic music and music that tells a story
As mentioned above, in addition to dominant brain types, our sensory preferences equate to the types of sensing stimuli that our brain most rapidly and intensely recognizes and responds in kind. According to Dr. Arlene Taylor, author of the assessment used on this site,
How does this apply to getting and staying organized? Here are some suggestions based upon each sensory preference.
These lists are not prescriptions for how you should decorate your rooms. Comfort and functionality should be top priorities for you and others sharing the space. Select your favorite piece of music and let's get to work.