How Introverts Can Boost Their Energy by Doing an Energy Audit

An introvert has more energy

Understanding what gives you energy — and what drains it — is key to avoiding burnout.

We’ve all seen the memes of overjoyed introverts as they receive word that their Friday night plans have been canceled (I mean, I’m giddy just thinking about it). At the end of the day or week, it can feel impossible to muster the energy to interact with even more people. 

I just can’t “people” anymore, is a line I’ve said on more than one occasion, basically any time I’d rather sit alone in a dark, quiet room than see another human face. 

You know those times when it feels like your tank is just… empty? All the clichés come to mind, like “You can’t pour from an empty cup” and “Put on your own oxygen mask first.” While those statements may be well-intentioned, they’re useless until we understand our own energy.

You can thrive as an introvert or a sensitive person in a loud world. Subscribe to our email newsletter. Once a week, you’ll get empowering tips and insights. Click here to subscribe.

Where Does Our Energy Come From? And Where Does It Keep Going? 

There are days I feel on top of the world and so productive that it’s exhilarating. Then the clock strikes 2 p.m. and I’m Cinderella running away from the ball, losing a shoe as I limp home. 

Where did all that energy come from? And where in the world did it all just go? I try to solve the mystery as though I’m reading a new Nancy Drew novel. 

Most of the time, I pour another cup of coffee and power through. I mean, we’re nothing if we’re not productive, right? When we live in a culture that values staying busy more than anything else, it’s hard not to white-knuckle it and push on. Could you imagine if I just, you know, took a nap or did “nothing”? The audacity!

Lately, I’ve been wondering: Is there another way? A better way? One that might work with me instead of shoving me along? And what would that look like? 

Introverts, Extroverts, and Our Brains When It Comes to Energy Levels

In my search for a better way, I realized that my energy gains and deficits were clearly linked to my introversion. My extroverted husband has different struggles than I do (like longing for the days we’d go out five nights a week, whereas I am secretly — or not-so-secretly — grateful we’re tied down at home these days; thank you, kids!). 

It turns out that our brains are wired differently. As an introvert, I have a thicker prefrontal cortex, which lends more to deep thought and decision-making. I also respond differently to dopamine — a neurotransmitter that impacts our happiness —  which makes me feel good when I’m in a calm environment. 

(Read more about the science behind how introverts’ and extroverts’ brains are wired differently here.)

It’s no wonder that my energy reserves drain quickly as I go through my day of constant noise, interaction, and all the external stimuli that require a lot of brain activity to process. While that might make total sense, it still begs the question: What can I do about it? 

It All Starts With an Energy Audit

As an introvert, understanding what gives me energy — and what drains my energy — is key to avoiding burnout. A great tool to use for managing your energy is called the energy audit.

Think of your personal energy audit like a house energy audit: Find the places where your home is leaking energy and seal them up, identify ways to save energy (like checking your insulation), and invest in a good heater to keep things going. (If you need some help, check out Energy Audit: A Six-Week Guide to Revitalize Your Life, by Heather Michelle Koester.)

So, let’s start assessing your energy levels — and how to make better use of them.

First, Ask Yourself Where You Are Leaking Energy  

These are the places (and, ahem, people) in your life who drain you — without even trying. Maybe it’s a coworker or family member, the commute to work, the whiny kids, or the way-too-often girls’ night outs. Be really honest with yourself about the things that seem to zap your energy

Identify each of these things — writing them down helps — and then consider how to, well, seal them up. Obviously you won’t be able to cut everything or everyone out of your life, nor would you want to. But you can take mindful steps to draw boundaries with these energy-zapping people or things.

Do you ever 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.

Next, How Can You Save More Energy? 

Now that you’ve found the leaks and are working to seal those up, consider ways you can save energy. Imagine you have an outer layer of insulation, just like your house.

What are the things in your life that protect you from the external stimuli? It could be as simple as building in breaks throughout your day, such as 10-minute blocks “me time,” where you find a quiet space to sit alone. If you commute, try turning the radio off and driving in silence. If you have kids, get up 15 minutes before them and enjoy a bit of peace before the chaos. 

Make a list of all the ways you can build up this layer of insulation and incorporate them into your daily routine. 

Finally, Find Ways to Create Energy 

Okay, we’ve sealed the leaks and installed insulation; it’s time to invest in a good heating system. We can only play defense for so long. Eventually, we need to go on the offensive and find ways to actually build up our stores of energy. 

When I need to hit the reset button and fill up my energy tank, I turn to the introvert’s tried-and-true tool: alone time. Oh sweet, sacred, alone time. There really isn’t anything else quite like it. 

(Why do introverts love spending time alone? Read the science here.)

Sometimes, it’s easier to come by than others. Ironically, we usually need it most in the times it’s hard to come by. That’s why I consider it an investment: It’s something we should take seriously and put in the work to get there (if you’re an introverted mama like me, you probably know exactly what I mean). 

Maybe you have a few other tricks up your sleeve and have other ways to fuel up, like taking a walk or hike, going to the library, or spending time with your dog or cat. That’s great! Use all the tools you have and use them regularly. This step is an ongoing process. Repeat as often as possible. 

Here are some more ideas to increase and protect your energy.

Doing an “energy audit” is a great tool to use any time you feel a bit off or like things are starting to fly off the rails. It’s even better to use it on a regular basis — so things don’t fly off the rails in the first place. Whether that’s weekly or monthly, find a rhythm that works for you and stick to it. Your introverted heart will thank you for it.

You might like:

This article contains affiliate links. We only recommend products we truly believe in.