to do list

Have you ever tried keeping a to-do list and just not been able to stick with it enough to see a difference in your life?

Are you constantly switching planners, always hoping for the one that will work for you but never seeming to find it?

Have you tried copying a friend or a mentor’s to-do list system and just not been able to make it work?

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.

But it’s the system that needs to change – not you!

There are so many different ways to make and keep to-do lists out there because there are different types of people. What works for one won’t work for another.

However, that doesn’t mean you have to try out every method and planner yourself to find a perfect fit.

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 to-do list method 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. Let me know in the comments if I’m right! The listed resources are only suggestions, and most of them would fit several types.

At the end of the post find out the one essential that matters most, regardless of personality type.

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 planning strength is her reliability and consistency. Her planning weakness is her perfectionist tendencies.

A traditional planner, with a weekly view and a column for her to-do tasks will be her best bet. She will want something that feels familiar, so any system or planner she’s learned to use in a past job or in college might still be the best fit as a mom. Digital archiving might appeal to her desire to keep memories and information without keeping clutter.


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.

The ESTJ is a natural planner and will know what she likes in a planner, be it digital or paper. She needs to beware of overplanning or overloading the schedule, and also of letting the plan become the master rather than the tool. She might prefer to schedule her tasks – because she will keep her schedule.


ISFJ – nurturing memory-maker

An ISFJ mom is supportive and nurturing, always seeing what each individual needs in the given moment and doing her best to give it.

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 FlyLady or Motivated Moms checklist better than most other types.


ESFJ – dynamic social butterfly

An ESFJ mom loves to take advantage of teachable moments, relationship-building opportunities, and volunteer needs.

An ESFJ will likely love to plan, particularly on paper with a creative flair. She will need a way to juggle the details of her active attention and schedule. A to-do list card she creates – and decorates – anew each day will appeal to her.


ESTP – adventurous adapter

An ESTP mom is enthusiastic and loves experiences and projects. She thrives on situations that require risk, strategy, and competition.

An ESTP will prefer to use a planner to fill in as she goes rather than planning it out beforehand, building a structural framework rather than a to-do list of minutia.


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 using Evernote for everything or creating a unique set of apps to manage life. Her real struggle will be regular implementation once the system is set up. She must be diligent to follow-through on an evening review to keep her planning structure relevant.


ESFP – fully present performer

An ESFP mom is friendly, outgoing, and attentive. She creates beautiful situations or experiences naturally and flawlessly.

An ESFP will need help creating a plan. She will do best with a ready-to-go plan from a trusted source that leaves plenty of free time and also wiggle room for spontaneity. A pen-and-paper approach with short daily lists for the essentials only will serve her best.


ISFP – generous helper

An ISFP mom is quiet yet responsive, enjoying a life with her family without being overbearing.

An ISFP will make a better to-do list when she regularly touches base with her sense of mission. She might not want to keep a daily to-do list, perhaps preferring a weekly overview, but she needs to know the practice is clarifying, not a straight-jacket. She should make sure her list visually appeals to her.


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 ideas get out of her head onto paper, so she can think through what needs to be done with less overwhelming perfectionism. Writing out 3 big to-dos for the day will help her stay focused and on track.


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. Her to-do list might look random to another type, but because that’s how her brain works, it will work for her. Making a brand new, start-from-scratch, list each evening or morning will help her connect her tasks to her inspiration.


INFP – tuned-in connector

An INFP mom is perceptive, understanding, and sensitive. A to-do 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 be easily overwhelmed, so she will do best with a planning mentor, whether in person or online, to help her stay on track and inspired. She might be drawn to adopting a technologically savvy to-do list, but she should certainly keep it simple and clutter-free.


ENFJ – enthusiastic mentor

An ENFJ mom needs to connect her to-do items with her big ideas. The more she can see how the mundane details support her vision, the better she’ll be able to follow her list.

An ENFJ will need to make her to-do list personal and flexible, so writing a brand new list each day will be essential. Leaving space and time to journal about the day in the evening will help her connect reality to her ideals.


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 and complete planning system, so she will customize either a paper or digital (or combo) solution to fit exactly what she wants. She will most likely make a better plan week-by-week than day-by-day.


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 planning system. She needs to remember to take time to pause regularly and evaluate the situation so she’s making appropriate decisions and not letting her grand plan railroad everyone else.


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 conviction about her purpose and goal so that she can improvise in the day-to-day. Her process and to-do list might look random and disjointed to others, but if she stays true to her core mission, she’ll stay on target. Having a set of weekly or monthly goals that are more big-picture than detail-specifics, then tracking their actual work according to those goals after the fact will help her stay on track while winging it in the moment.


INTP – intellectual researcher

An INTP mom values her own knowledge base and is good at doing what she knows must be done than figuring out what needs to be done.

An INTP’s to-do list must be clutter-free and include room for information gathering and connection making. A simple, unfussy, flexible bullet journal will serve her purposes nicely.


No matter what you use as a to-do list,

No matter what your personality,

there’s one secret that always applies.

You have to look at your to-do list for it to work.

Isn’t that crazy-insightful?

I know.

But it’s what stops our plans from working for us. With the right planning habits, any type could make any planner work.

Sure, I believe you should find a planner and a method – maybe a favorite pen or a favorite planning corner – to make the process resonate with you and be attractive to you. That’s important.

But an attractive planner does no good if we don’t look at it – daily, weekly, regularly.

So next up is my top hack for making a planner really work: Using a Planner to Stay Organized

Get the important things done each day.

Take the daily card challenge and become more effective in your home.

Keep reading –


  1. I took the test and found that I’m ESFP, which I didn’t think was accurate until I read your description of EXACTLY how I (don’t) plan well. In fact, I have relied on Betsy to draw up a plan for me. :-)

    Very insightful. Thank you.

    1. It’s very common to have some parts of your MB type that are a very slight preference or even tied.
      Try reading the descriptions and see if any of them jump out at you more than others. Or look at the suggested planners. What looks like you’d be most likely to stick with it? Try that out for 2-4 weeks (every new system takes a little while to get the hang of). If it’s not the one for you, you have options, so try another system!
      I hope that helps!

      1. Thanks Jenn! I decided that ENFP fits me best, and I found a great planner from Rifle Paper Co. Now I’m learning how to make it work according to my type. So freeing to know that I don’t have to feel like a failure if someone else’s plan doesn’t work for me! :-)

  2. Is there a link to the Briggs Myers test here in your post? I was looking for that because it says “take the test here” but no link is showing up for me. I wonder if it’s my browser. The next sentence reads like it would have a link also, but again, no link shows up for me.
    You’ve described me perfectly, with trying different systems and always looking for the perfect one. That is me!!!

    Can’t wait for the sweep and smile course to start next week!

  3. INTJ: “so she will customize a solution to fit exactly what she wants”
    I am literally working on my own app so I that I can integrate my calendar and to do list, along with some other features I am desperate for. We are special creatures, us INTJs.

  4. INFJ, here, and you did a good job of describing my feelings. I don’t have 3 things on my to do, but I limit myself to 10 daily, including regular responsibilities. :-)

  5. I’m a INFP. Your description is spot-on! I’m a bullet journal-er…. mostly because of my big family (regular planners are not designed for large family living). I love my travelers notebook- crammed full of life! Love your personality posts- so fascinating.

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