As an introvert, and one with an overwhelming amount of work and interests, I often find myself with a massive to-do list. I always have so many things I need and want to accomplish in both my professional life and in my personal life, and there never is enough time. I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading on time management in an effort to improve on my ability to get things done. I’ve found a few books that were helpful (and linked to a few of my favorites below – affiliate links). While there are many great tips in these books and others that may appeal to introverts, I haven’t come across any time management tips specifically for introverts. So, here are a few things I have learned to keep in mind:
1. Keep your mind clear
As an introvert, my mind is where I spend more of my time. I have so many great ideas, but I have to capture those ideas by recording them somewhere to make room for the new ideas to come. If I can keep my mind clear, I can focus on the task at hand and all the while continue to come up with great ideas for the future. If I don’t capture my ideas, my brain keeps bringing them up and I can’t focus.
2. Time for projects
While we all have to juggle many things, I’ve learned that the more focus I can get, the better. Multi-tasking involves far too much starting and stopping and is not effective. There are certain projects that are very difficult for me to finish when I have constant interruptions. When I need to complete a project that requires my full attention, even though I head a busy office, I try to find a time I can set aside for some uninterrupted time with my door closed. During this project time, I stay out of my email box, forward my work phone and silence my cell phone. If I can set an appointment with myself, like I would with anyone else, it will ensure that I can carve time out from my busy day to spend on the project.
3. Time to plan
I have found it very effective for me to spend some time reviewing my upcoming week. As part of this process, I look at the meetings I have on my calendar. I’ve learned that as an introvert, preparation for meetings is key. I usually need to think about things. and I do better and am able to present my ideas more clearly when I spend some time thinking about the subjects beforehand. Do I have the agenda? Is there any information I need to review ahead of time? What questions do I have now? What points do I want to make? By spending a little time in preparation for an upcoming meeting, I’m able to be more effective and articulate during the actual meeting.
4. Time to recharge
Many have written about the introvert need for recharge. With so many different types of introverts, I don’t think the need for recharge is the same for every introvert. The important thing is to know yourself and what you need.
Here are a few things that trigger the recharge need for me:
- When I am trying to think and because of interruptions or too many things happening, I can’t. Again, thinking for introverts is very natural, but in certain environments, not being able to process your thoughts can be very draining.
- Strained conversation with strangers or those I don’t relate to very well. For me, it’s not people in general that drain me, but certain people and certain situations.
- Being “on stage” for extended periods of time. For me, some examples of this would be running meetings, attending meetings, giving presentations, or doing employee training.
What triggers your need to recharge? And once you’ve determined what causes you to be drained, how do you make time to recharge? For example, can you block out some time right after that meeting or situation that drained you? When I schedule a little time for recharge, I’m better able to function after a draining situation.
5. Time to Think
Introverts are built to think, so we need to make sure we plan some alone time. We need some time to think, relax, and have those great ideas. For many introverts, time alone to think may be their very favorite form of recreation.
As you are developing your time management strategy, keep in mind that you have unique needs as an introvert and will do best by honoring those needs. Here are a few more time management articles for introverts you might enjoy:
Make Appointments With Your Introverted Self
Time Alone to Think
Recommended Reading for Time Management:
Getting Things Done
by David Allen
by Matthew Kelly
by Steve Chandler