Sometimes it’s hard to keep up as an introvert in this overly connected world.
Between work, kids, family, friends, pets, errands, social media, etc., life has a way of sweeping you up.
Even the weekends, your “free time”, can start to feel like hectic energy depleting overly scheduled days.
The world often demands so much. And the more you give, the more it takes.
Before you know it, you’re living in reaction mode instead of in control of your life and your energy.
If you’re an introvert, protecting and restoring your energy is vital.
For much of my life I didn’t understand this and so I wondered why I was chronically tired, overwhelmed and depleted.
It took me a long time to realize where I was going wrong…
The Wrong Way to Fill an Introverted Schedule
I used to fill up days based on chunks of time. Weekends included.
And so if my husband said to me, can we do X, Y, and Z on Saturday, I’d look at my calendar, see that the time was free, and say sure. And then when the day came, I carried through with all the obligations I had agreed to and wondered why I was depleted for the next three days.
While I love being social, I am truly introverted (and sensitive). My cells require a lot to recharge.
Free chunks of time on the calendar can become a deceiving trap. Before you know it you’ll fill up your schedule and then wonder why your health is suffering, your energy is non-existent and you can barely pull yourself up from the couch.
If you also have energy that drains quickly, you need to protect it. You can do so by changing your mindset from time management to energy management.
Here are 5 energy management tips for introverts:
1. Limit To-Dos to Top Priority Items.
If you have limited energy, there are only so many to-do’s you can get through in one day.
My ambitions used to cause me to try to schedule an insane amount of “productivity” into my days. That meant scheduling ten or more tasks, depleting myself completely and negatively impacting my health.
To protect a limited supply of energy, it’s best to live by the 80/20 rule. 80% of what we do is complete crap, only 20% matters. Only do the 20% the matters and forget the rest.
Life will not fall apart but you will if you don’t abide.
2. Block Out Time for Recharging Your Energy.
Every day in your calendar should account for down time.
Whether that’s reading a book, taking a long bath, watching your favorite show or just relaxing and talking with your loved one, it’s schedule worthy.
I personally need an hour of down time before I go to bed. Time where I do nothing. Where the computer stays closed, the work stops, the emails don’t get looked at, I don’t answer the phone, and I can just do whatever I want. I can feel my cells finally relaxing, opening up and refueling themselves.
Without this, my sleep is restless, my next morning is cranky and the whole tone of the day gets thrown off.
Whatever it is that makes you feel relaxed, schedule it in. Let your cells replenish.
3. Never Schedule Social Activities Based on Time Availability.
This is where introverts need to be somewhat selfish. To me this doesn’t come naturally, it took me years to really understand and respect my boundaries enough to protect them.
Before becoming a mom I’d often agree to social obligations simply because the time was free on my calendar.
Time and time again I’d find myself trapped in an overly scheduled week that wore me down to my core.
I no longer look at my calendar based on its day to day availabilities. When asked to participate in social activities, even when it’s weeks in advance, I look to see how many other activities are already scheduled for that week. Just because the time is free does not mean that I am fee.
My personal limit is one social activity per week. More than that and I am wiped out. I make exceptions here and there but I know that to thrive, I can really only handle one big outing.
Know what your limits are and say no to requests that push those limits too far.
4. Plan to Sleep Abundantly.
Skimping on sleep backfires every single time.
You may convince yourself that you can get by without enough. You may tell yourself ‘just this one night I’ll stay up crazy late to get everything done’, it’s fine.
But sadly it takes you two days to recover from that decision. So ultimately you lose more than you gained.
The more well rested you are, the more efficiently you can get through your days.
Scheduling in adequate sleep may be the most important time management trick in your arsenal.
5. Schedule Complete Solitude.
I love being a mom. It’s the greatest gift life has ever given me. And I give 100% of myself to my daughter when I’m with her. But in doing so, I also deplete myself.
I’ve realized that I don’t fully recharge unless I get time completely alone all to myself. So once a week on the weekends I send my husband off for a little quality time with our peanut and I stay home, alone.
As long as I am completely alone (other than our dog of course), I can feel my energy regenerating.
If you’re a social introvert like myself, making sure to schedule in complete solitude can save you from a massive burn out.
The Truth About an Introvert’s Schedule…
As introverts we need to protect our energy, but we are not weak.
We give intensely, whether it’s at work or with family or friends.
We give deep thought and concentrated effort to our tasks.
Our friends may not see us quite as often, but the time we do give them is concentrated, not a moment wasted, not a word unheard.
Our introspective souls may deplete easily but it’s only because of the soulful intensity we bring forth in every interaction.
To protect that intensity we must accept and honor our unique needs.
We must manage our energy instead of our time.