As an introvert, you can end up feeling like a bucket of water with a hole in the bottom — you’ll always feel drained unless you fix the leak.
Have you ever wished you had as much energy as an extrovert? Me, too.
For as long as I can remember, it feels like I’ve been trying to exert 100 percent energy from a 50 percent charged battery. I never understood how others could juggle full-time jobs, family commitments, socializing, workouts, and hobbies without burning out.
Discovering how introverts recharge differently from extroverts has been a real game-changer for me. All this time, I thought I was flawed because I couldn’t keep up with those around me. It turns out I’ve been fighting the wrong battle with the wrong weapons all along. I’ve been trying to achieve the impossible — to be something I’m not.
I’m finally beginning to see my energy levels as something that needs to be managed rather than fixed. Being an introvert isn’t a flaw — it’s a personality trait with many benefits. Here are seven ways and philosophies that help me manage my energy levels as an introvert, and I hope they’ll help you, too.
7 Ways To Maximize Your Energy as an Introvert
1. Don’t compare yourself to extroverts (since they get energy in different ways).
If you’re trying to keep up with an extrovert, you’re running an impossible race. Extroverts get their energy from spending more time with people, not less. This gives them an automatic advantage when it comes to maximizing their time.
One of my best friends is a textbook extrovert. He can easily handle his full-time job while still having enough energy to socialize after work. He could cram his weekends with day trips, concerts, and family meals, and still not show up to work tired on Mondays.
Why? Because socialization and stimuli invigorate him. My friend craves company — he gets bored if his planner isn’t filled to the brim. Alone time literally drains him.
As introverts, we’re not wired the same way, and that’s okay. We just need to find ways to work with our energy instead of against it.
2. Make yourself a priority — practice saying “no” to things more.
Your needs are just as important as anybody else’s. A lot of people (especially if they’re extroverts) don’t understand how introverts recharge. That’s okay, though — not everyone has to understand. Having to budget your energy levels doesn’t make you selfish or uncaring.
Sometimes I feel guilty that I can’t see my friends as often as I’d like. I’m a recovering people-pleaser, and I hate letting others down. I’ve had to reprogram my brain to realize that it’s not selfish to say “no.” In fact, it’s healthy.
Life is demanding. We all have responsibilities and commitments that we need to allocate time and energy to. As an introvert, if you’re not careful, you can end up feeling like a bucket of water with a hole in the bottom. No matter how full your life is, you’ll always feel drained unless you fix the leak.
3. Don’t overcram your schedule — instead, schedule time to rest.
It’s tempting to see a free day as an excuse to cram in as much as possible.
“Hmm… I have the day off tomorrow. Maybe I could swing past and see my grandmother on the way to meet my friends for coffee. I should still have time to work out, call my cousin, and work on my side hustle before I meet my boyfriend for dinner.”
This kind of schedule would be no problem for an extrovert, but for introverts, it’s an express route to burnout. Socialization isn’t how introverts recharge, so we need to actively schedule in time for rest and activities that rejuvenate us.
In his book, The Science of Introverts, Peter Hollins suggests that while most people make plans based on their availability, introverts should make plans based on energy expenditure. He states that “Just because your time is free does not mean that you should be using it. You can look at it like a game of Tetris that requires some creative energy arranging.
4. Figure out which activities rejuvenate you, then do them more.
Being introverted and ambitious isn’t always a harmonious combo.
The ambitious side of me likes to be thrifty with my time, utilizing every spare minute to achieve something (like the example above). Even when I’m supposed to be relaxing, I’m constantly fighting the urge to do something productive — my mind’s on high alert for new ideas, inspiration, and knowledge.
The problem is, constant stimulation isn’t possible to sustain. As an introvert, energy is my most precious commodity. Balancing the conflicting aspects of my natural make up isn’t an easy challenge, but the solution for me has been to make sure I get enough downtime. Alone time is how introverts recharge, and in order to thrive, we need to make decompressing a priority.
Take the time to figure out which activities rejuvenate you, and give your brain a chance to recharge. Try to be fully present without mentally multi-tasking. For example, when you’re watching a movie, allow yourself to get completely absorbed in the story without worrying about your to-do list. The same goes for reading a book or journaling. Practice being present and really recharging through these relaxing activities.
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5. Schedule enough alone time — you don’t want an “introvert hangover.”
Alone time is like oxygen for introverts; without it, we wilt like a flower in the shade.
Unlike extroverts, introverts are easily exhausted by social interaction. Socializing uses up energy because it involves a lot of listening, talking, and concentration. Even a one-on-one conversation, or being alone in a public space, can be draining for an introvert.
As Hollins also says in his book: “The introvert battery drains quickly when they are in a setting that demands a lot of interaction. Their social battery regains power only when they spend adequate time without the company of others, in the confines of their private space, and doing things that require no contact with the outside world.”
If I don’t get enough alone time, an “introvert hangover” quickly sets in: I feel tired, unfocused, overwhelmed, and emotional. I resemble a bear that wants to curl up, hide, and hibernate until I recharge, ready to face the world again.
It’s not always possible to avoid social burnout, but it’s sometimes possible to lessen the impact. Nowadays, if I know I’m coming up to a busy period in my life, I actively schedule alone time. For example, if I know I’ll be socializing a lot during the holidays, I don’t overschedule myself. I create a buffer of alone time around other commitments in order to allow me to rest and sustain my energy.
6. Manage your social battery and try to do introvert-friendly activities with others.
Everybody needs to socialize, even those of us who are introverts. My friends and family— those who “get” me — are really important to me, and I enjoy spending time with them. The tricky part is finding ways to spend time together that don’t drain my social battery too much.
For instance, I avoid going to parties, bars, and clubs as much as possible. Instead, I’ll suggest introvert-friendly activities that I know they’ll like, too, such as eating out, going for a walk, seeing a movie, and so on. Watching a movie is a good way of spending quality time together while also getting a chance to chill out. That way, you can share an experience together without too much social exertion.
Setting a time limit on social activities can help prevent introvert burnout, too. In my case, three hours is usually plenty of time for a nice meal and a catch-up with a friend. If I’m spending a full day with someone, then I make sure I have some “rest time” scheduled for the next day.
Socializing on alternate weekends helps me balance my energy levels, as well. For example, if I have a weekend heavy in socializing, I try to plan a “rest ‘n’ recharge” weekend the following week.
7. Tailor-make your life as much as possible.
When it comes to life, one size doesn’t fit all. Some people may be able to maximize their time by waking up at 5 a.m. every day, but that doesn’t work for me. Waking up early only makes me tired and unable to function properly for the rest of the day. Instead, I let myself wake up naturally (usually around 8 a.m.).
I used to beat myself up for being lazy, for not being able to keep up with the world of online hustlers who crank out content like a 24-hour factory. Realizing that I’m an introvert was liberating for me. I’ve learned to accept the things about me that I can’t change and embrace my natural traits — thinking things through, being organized, being an attentive listener, using my creativity, and so forth.
And, now, I’m creating an interesting career that I can work around my energy levels. I’m learning to balance socializing with rejuvenation. And, most of all, I’m learning not to be too hard on myself. Would I prefer to have the energy levels of an extrovert? Hell, yeah! But there are a lot of great things about being an introvert, too, that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
If you have any tips or strategies for maximizing your energy as an introvert, please let me know in the comments section below.
Do ever you struggle to know what to say?
As an introvert, you actually have the ability to be an amazing conversationalist — even if you’re quiet and hate small talk. To learn how, we recommend this online course from our partner Michaela Chung. Click here to check out the Introvert Conversation Genius course.
You might like:
- Discover What Recharges You By Tracking Your Energy Levels as an Introvert
- The Exhausted Introvert’s Guide to Saying No
- Why Is Socializing Exhausting for Introverts? Here’s the Science
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