4 Tips for INFPs to Defend Their Time

An INFP defends his time

Despite the fact that INFPs are hard-wired to help others, it is equally important to respect and defend your time, too.

INFPs are known as the world’s idealists or healers, and with that comes an honored approach to life. The truth is, many of us find immense joy in the noble task of caring for others and seeking to make the world a better place. We are always the first to lend a helping hand, and often put others’ needs before our own. And we are happy to do it.

The challenge can arise, though, when we find ourselves extended more than we can manage. Our solitude, which we cherish so much, can quickly become hard to find. And generally we are okay with that, because we like helping others. But this time is also how we recharge and find the energy to share our introvert superpowers with the world, which is why it becomes so important to have some tools to defend our time. 

So, without further ado, here are four ways for INFPs to protect their time.

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4 Ways for INFPs to Defend Their Time

1. Dissociate the meaning from the situation.

One of the most powerful tactics I have grown into is that of separating meaning from a situation. I know, as an INFP this sounds completely wrong since we so often find meaning in almost everything we do or experience! But trust me, this is perhaps the most powerful trick we can harness.   

When I was younger, I lived with my dad. One of our favorite hobbies to do together was to split and stack wood. We had a wood stove, so we would get a large order of logs every spring, and spend every Sunday afternoon cutting, splitting, and stacking the wood to dry before we needed it in the winter. 

I thoroughly loved this activity since, to me, it was a quintessential father-son bonding experience. I would drop everything I was doing to run out and help my dad when he decided it was time to go to work. This event was very important to me, and I feared there would be a “last time” that we stacked wood together. This meant that I would constantly interrupt my Sunday afternoons when I would be right in the middle of my alone time. As a result, I started getting resentful about helping my dad. This broke my heart, since I’d loved it so much in the past. 

To reconcile these negative emotions, however, I was eventually able to separate the meaning of splitting wood (father-son bonding) from the situation (a weekly chore that we had plenty of hours to do together). Once I made that mental switch, I found the peace to say no from time to time and focus on myself and my alone time. This greatly improved my mentality toward the wood-chopping chore, and I was eventually able to find more meaning in the task by doing it when it truly mattered to us both.

The key takeaway is this: Often, we INFPs will project meaning onto a life event that others may not see, and this meaning can make us feel more indebted than necessary to help. Yet, in reality, if we can take a step back and see the event as others see it, we can feel more empowered to say no. 

(P.S. This mental shift also helps with the other tricks that follow!)

2. Create or request a mobile office.

The other area of my life that consumed more of my time than I cared to admit was work. Again, as an INFP, I had a very, very hard time saying no to requests at the office. Be it our tendency to people-please, or a deep-rooted desire to be of service, I needed a way to defend my time at work. 

The day that changed everything, though, was when I built a mobile office in my truck. I found that even while working remotely, I felt a need to be constantly available for assisting everyone, and struggled with constant interruptions from roommates. Once I moved to my “mobile” office, however, I was able to carve out time in the day to get the creative work done that I’d historically struggled with. I was able to find peace by working near mountains or lakes — nature is an elixir for introverts! — and it was harder for a roommate to ask me to help them when I was nowhere to be found.

Now, I recognize that the truck office may be a stretch for some, but the core concept applies. Requesting the ability to work in a mobile (or varied) scenario can be powerful. Even if it is a cafe or a different corner of the office, having a few locations to bounce between keeps your energy levels up, and makes it harder for people to physically find us and steal away our precious time!

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3. Leverage “airplane” and “do not disturb” modes on your electronic devices.

On the note of work distractions, a simple cell phone/laptop trick can also make a world of difference for defending your time — turning on “airplane” or “do not disturb” modes.

It’s like the old saying, “Ignorance is bliss.” I find not knowing that people are pinging you on Slack or asking for help can be one of the best ways to keep your carved-out alone (and work) time intact. Especially as an INFP who feels terrible when taking too long to get back to someone they care about, this trick has been really helpful. Folks around me have come to realize that when I don’t reply, it’s likely because I have implemented this trick and they respect it! So it’s a true win-win.

4. When all else fails, noise-cancelling headphones are your best friend.

Finally, if all of the above fail, another tried and true method to protect your time as an INFP is to resort to your trusty headphones. (And if they’re noise-cancelling ones, better yet.) They scream: “I’m focused or busy, please do not disturb me” in the nicest way possible. And what’s even better is that they require absolutely zero confrontation. I’ve even gone as far as to have a mock phone conversation to hide from social situations, and as silly as it may sound, a quick mumble and point to the headphones is sure to deter even the most persistent friend or colleague. 

It’s Nice to Help Others but Equally Important to Respect Your Own Time, Too

As a last thought here, I would just like to remind you, INFP, that these tactics and tools are not selfish. Despite the fact that you are hard-wired to heal and help others, it is equally important to respect your own time. These four tricks are ones that I have found to be a balance of politeness and effectiveness in my own life, and I hope they can be of benefit to you, as well, to defend your time. You are worthy of respect and prioritization, and it is okay to put yourself first sometimes. After all, if you are at your best, odds are you will be able to better help others when all is said and done.

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