If you manage your introvert battery during the work day, your evenings and free time will be much more satisfying.
Introverts are really no different from everyone else — we have our strengths and our weaknesses. When we use our strengths — like creativity, listening, thoughtfulness, and team loyalty — we can become great project managers, engineers, salespeople, artists, and leaders, not to mention spouses and parents. We just have different ways of doing things.
One of the starkest differences is that our energy can drain when we are called upon to be social or to be the center of attention. Extroverts often thrive in those same situations. It doesn’t mean we can’t do them; it just means our energy runs out faster. So how do introverts succeed when life, and work in particular, often involves working with others, making rapid decisions, and voicing our opinions? We must learn to manage our personal battery’s energy levels each and every day.
The Introvert’s Energy Equation
The introvert’s energy equation is quite simple. Much like a phone battery, for instance, our own battery has a gauge that measures the amount of energy we have left. Each of our batteries is about the same size. When our battery is full, we have the physical energy, and also the mental space, to do things. When our battery is getting low, we get more sluggish, tired, impatient, and even irritable.
Energy Charged – Energy Drained = Your Battery Gauge
This is why it is important to gauge where your battery level is during the day. As your battery drains, you can gauge how much longer you have, like Cinderella at the ball. When that energy drains, you better find shelter in your comfort zone… or you may crash. Crashing can be ugly — totally removed from conversations, uncomfortable, short-tempered, or even getting anxious and in panic mode, as though there’s no escape.
But… beware of the “danger zone,” that red level on your fuel gauge that indicates you are almost out of gas. You always want to avoid the danger zone. Why is it so draining? I find that the further I get from my comfort zone, the more quickly I get drained. Saying “hi” or chatting with a coworker or school parents can be a slow drain. Being part of a contentious debate, being unprepared for a meeting, or leading a presentation in front of dozens drains my battery rapidly. It’s important to understand what drains you most so you can use the tools below to avoid the danger zone.
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How — and When — to Recharge Your Introvert Battery
How can you recharge, and refill, your introvert battery? This can be through rest, reading, music, exercise, meditation, hobbies like art or writing, as well as through those solitary menial tasks that give your brain a bit of a rest while also providing a sense of accomplishment. At work, examples could be filing, planning your calendar, or sending some quick emails.
Of course, not all activities recharge your battery at the same pace. Some activities are super-chargers. They quickly recharge your battery. You may only need five minutes of reading or walking or journaling to boost your energy. Other activities — which may vary by person, however — may slowly elevate your energy level.
As for when to recharge, you must find the time — no matter where you may be. Regardless of whether you go to the office, work from home, or are busy with your kids all day, you can’t wait until the end of the workday to recharge. By then, your battery will be empty and you likely didn’t have a very happy or productive afternoon.
Here are a few ways to get some coveted recharge time:
- Take ownership of your calendar. Place planning, meeting prep, and energy-boosting time on your calendar. Challenge meetings that don’t appear value-added. Then, review your calendar before each day and ensure you are prepared.
- Carve out some time throughout the day. Walk the floor or campus alone. Jot down a few thoughts in your journal. Spread out those menial, yet satisfying, tasks in between tense meetings or engagements.
- Don’t schedule back-to-back meetings. Give yourself at least 15 minutes between meetings and split that time between preparing for the next meeting (so it is less stressful) and just relaxing (to collect yourself and recharge a bit). If you have to travel across campus or town for meetings, provide ample time. Reserve some time after meetings, too, for a bit of solitude to bring your energy level back up.
- Grab lunch alone in your office, a cafe, or off-campus. When I learned this trick, I initially felt strange. Are people watching me? Do they think I’m weird? Do they think I’m pompous? But then I realized how valuable that time was for me, especially in the middle of a chaotic day. I recognized I’d have a lot more energy in the afternoon and others also benefited when I was full of energy.
- Wind down well. Before you call it a day, consider what went well that day, how you stretched yourself, and if you felt good energy. Review tomorrow’s schedule and consider any changes. Try to find a low-stress commute (public transit can be a great transition). Be sure to relax with some personal time (reading, meditation, writing, music, art…) but a bit of engagement with family/friends can also be satisfying.
- Grow your recharging toolkit. Consider how you can expand your hobbies. Also recognize that menial tasks, such as planning, filing, and emails, can be comforting breaks, too.
No More ‘Leftovers’
For years, I would come home drained. I slid onto the couch and often was unable to join the family conversation. My family got whatever was leftover. Sound familiar?
Being aware of our energy level is half the battle. The other half is carving out small bits of time during the day to recharge. If you manage your energy battery during the day, your day and your night will be much more satisfying for everyone.
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