Easily Overwhelmed Personality Types

Staying on top of all the little things that need to be done in life can be a challenge. Household duties, everyday errands, and general life maintenance can sometimes feel like a daunting pile of tasks. Some of us may leap over that pile like it’s a molehill, while others may simply feel like it’s a mountain they cannot climb. Even little things can overwhelm us if enough of them combine all at once, and of course, life’s chores also have a way of regenerating every day.

To explore how different personality types feel about this topic, we asked our readers if they agreed with the statement, “You often feel overwhelmed by many little things that need to be done.” Overall, 67% of respondents agreed, but the relative differences are worth a look:

Let’s dive into the data below.

Roles

Diplomats (76% agreeing)

The largest divide among the personality traits that determine our Roles was between the Intuitive trait (74% agreeing) and the Observant trait (63%). Intuitive types like Diplomats tend to dwell in the realm of possibility and imagination, and they may sometimes forget that the forest is made of individual trees. In other words, details aren’t always their forte and, as a result, daily tasks can stack up. When that happens, Diplomats don’t always excel at the sort of practical logistics that can help them work through a long list of chores most effectively.

The Feeling trait also plays a role here. Emotional responses to stress can be hard for Feeling personalities to sidestep once they’ve begun. Diplomats will feel even more worried if not finishing something means letting someone else down.

Analysts (69%)

Analysts share the same Intuitive tendencies as Diplomats, potentially becoming distracted from managing everyday tasks by their busy mental landscapes. However, their Thinking personality trait may help them approach things rationally, with less emotional sensitivity to stress. When they do decide to face a mountain of tasks, they’ll attack it with a logical plan, and their cool sense of efficiency can help keep overwhelming feelings at bay.

Explorers and Sentinels (64% and 62%)

As Observant personalities, Explorers and Sentinels agreed with our statement at somewhat lower rates. Focused on the present and aware of their surroundings, Observant types are less likely to lose track of obligations and deadlines.

Explorers are used to engaging in diverse activities and are quick to adapt to challenges and changes, so juggling many tasks may feel normal to them. While they may not be better than other personality types at actually getting things accomplished, they are less likely to feel overwhelmed when many little things need to be done.

Sentinels are traditionally organized, practical personalities. They enjoy making and executing plans to help them get through chores and responsibilities steadily, and even when many tasks build up, they are more than capable of adopting a pragmatic routine to deal with them, reducing the chance of feeling overwhelmed. 

Strategies

Constant Improvement and Social Engagement (84% and 82% agreeing)

When it comes to feeling overwhelmed by many little things needing to be done, the most significant divide by far was between the Turbulent (83%) and Assertive (50%) personality traits – a difference of 33%.

Due to their Turbulent Identity, Constant Improvers and Social Engagers are more sensitive to stress in general. These personalities don’t just get overwhelmed by an overload of tasks – they also tend to be very concerned with getting everything done as well as possible. Such self-created pressure can magnify any number of tasks, making them seem more daunting than they really are.

Turbulent Advocates (INFJ-T) and Mediators (INFP-T) tied as the personality types most likely to agree with our statement (87% each). These altruistic Diplomats share an interest in helping others and a tendency to dislike or neglect routine tasks and day-to-day upkeep. The Turbulent Identity only enhances feelings of guilt and worry when too many small tasks prevent Advocates and Mediators from doing everything they could to truly help other people or a cause they care about.

We should also note that Introverts (74%) were more likely to agree with our statement than Extraverts (65%), perhaps because Introverts are less likely to reach out to others for help when they have too much to do, causing them to feel overwhelmed more often.

Confident Individualism and People Mastery (52% and 49%)

The Assertive Identity helps Confident Individualists and People Masters feel more confident in general, which also helps them feel that they can accomplish even a long to-do list. While not necessarily better at completing tasks, these personalities are far less stressed about reaching their goals, because they tend to have a more relaxed and assured outlook. Even so, it’s worth pointing out that, with agreement rates of 52% and 49%, roughly half of the members of these Strategies can become overwhelmed when they have a lot to do. 

Assertive Executives (ESTJ-A) were the least likely personality types to agree (42%). As Sentinels, Executives are known for their dedication and reliability, and seeing things through to completion is hugely important to them. Strong organizational skills, combined with a confident Identity, help Assertive Executives not just with finishing chores or duties on their own, but also with delegating tasks to others as appropriate – a key tool for avoiding overwhelming situations.

Conclusions

Identity strongly affected this study, but other traits were a factor as well. Those personalities with a practical, logical, confident outlook are less likely to feel stressed by a large load of tasks. Those who are more emotionally sensitive, imaginative, and perfection-minded can more easily feel overwhelmed by many things needing to be done, even if they are small, simple matters on their own.

For those who struggle with feeling overwhelmed, strategies like determining priorities, breaking tasks down into manageable steps, and asking a friend or team member for a little assistance could help.

What about you? How do you deal with many little things needing to be done? What little tasks stress you out the most? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

You can see the full set of data, including correlation coefficients, in the Academy. Please also consider participating in our Member Surveys!

1 month ago
ENTP here. Nice article, and describes my family well. I do have to point out that you've written "the most significant divide by far was between the Turbulent (83%) and Assertive (50%) personality traits – a difference of 33%". In this context, it should actually read "a difference of 33 percentage points".
2 months ago
INFP-T here, also ... I can't function when I'm overwhelmed, and it's so easy for me to be overwhelmed. I tend to go into complete seclusion so I can try to sort things out. I've also noticed that my empathy plays a big role in that. It's like I can't sort out whose feelings actually belong to me or which feelings belong to other people. I absorb so much of other people's stuff that I can't effectively function at all and I need to be completely away from others in order to "detox" from everyone else's emotions and be able to stabilize my own. I also notice I can't work unless my house is clean (I work from home). Ugh.
2 months ago
I used to, but for the most part, I don't anymore. I think this is because I have become more Assertive over time.
HT
2 months ago
INFP-T here, with an INFJ-T sister, and can confirm, we literally never have our room clean unless we've been neglecting ALL of our other household chores. Its so bad that sometimes I can't sleep so I get up and put away clothes for an hour at 2:36 AM when I really, really need to be sleeping.
2 months ago
INFP-T. This is too true. I woke up after only three hours of sleep because I’ve been so stressed about all the things I have to get done in the next couple of weeks: finals, meetups with people I’ve only met online, getting my car fixed, cleaning, doctor appointments, finishing a group project that they made the leader of for some reason... add in the interpersonal problems I’ve been having with some people and I’m on my last nerve. X(
Your name: