Why Routines Are So Important for INFPs (Even Though We Hate Them)

an INFP personality writes out her routine

There’s one word that’s debatably more terrifying to us INFPs than Voldemort and Freddy Krueger combined.


But… why?

We’re described as the “children of the Myers-Briggs world” — we’re leaves blowing in the breeze, happy to glide along wherever the wind takes us. Creating (and not to mention, following) a schedule basically goes against just about every core value that we stand for: autonomy, options, freedom.

But what if I told you that it’s not only a good thing for INFPs to have a routine, but that it’s downright necessary?

Wait not so fast. Before you hit the “X” button, hear me out on this one.

When I graduated with my Master’s degree two years ago, I had a minor mental meltdown, to put it lightly. After having spent over two decades of my life in an extremely structured school environment, I was finally free. The options were endless. I could do whatever I chose, whenever I wanted. Which was great… right?

Nope. Not so great.

My fleeting sense of liberty soon turned to utter cluelessness. Suddenly no one was telling me what to do. No advisors. No schedules. No structure.

Who even was I anymore? I tried my best to swim rather than sink, but let’s just say that the Titanic and I were starting to have more and more in common.

After lots of pondering, countless therapy sessions, and an existential breakdown (or two), I figured out the key reasons why INFPs like me absolutely need routines in their lives.

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5 Reasons Why INFPs Need Routine

1. If left to our own devices, we may self-detonate with creative outbursts.

Our vivid imaginations and diverse and quirky interests are the perfect recipe for spending hours on end doing whatever sets our hearts ablaze. INFPs are dreamers who spend a lot of time in our own heads, and don’t all of those half-cooked ideas have to see the light of day at some point?

On especially emotional days, all I want to do is fine-tune my Shakira impersonation (spoiler alert: yodeling is hard) and peruse Reddit all day long. And don’t get me wrong — things like this are cathartic and even necessary for us INFPs. But when I forget when I ate last or what the heck sleep even is anymore, that’s a pretty solid indicator that I’m losing sight of the bigger picture and that my routine could use a major makeover.

2. Many INFPs choose flexible lifestyles, and routines can make all the difference.

When choosing a college major, I immediately nixed any options that would cement me into a rinse-wash-repeat routine. And I’m not alone here — a lot of INFPs avoid monotony like the plague and intentionally choose a flexible work life. Freelancing and working as digital nomads are fairly common for INFPs, since these frameworks are as go-with-the-flow as we are. I’m living proof: I’ve freelanced for the past few years as a Spanish tutor and translator, and my travel bucket list is growing longer by the day.

But is this type of lifestyle truly all margaritas on the beach and answering just the occasional e-mail? With the sweet freedom of being your own boss comes the colossal responsibility of time management and prioritizing, a.k.a. two things INFPs hate. Just because our corporate cats are away doesn’t mean we INFP mice should play all day! A little structure in our routines can make all the difference.

3. Routines can be a form of self-care.

Let’s look at one well-known INFP: Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye. Yes, he was a teenager in the book, but he illustrates a common theme that many, if not all, INFPs experience during their lifetime: disillusionment with the world around them. I mean, let’s face it — the world can be a lot to take in for anybody.

However, research shows that introverts as a whole run a higher risk for depression compared to extroverts. We INFPs are especially sensitive creatures who hold our values very close to our personal identities, so it’s no wonder that the real world can majorly bum us out from time to time. Building a routine that focuses on sleeping well, exercising regularly, and trying to eat healthy is one of the best things an INFP can do for a daily dose of self-care.

4. Sticking to a routine actually gives us more free time.

When I started getting serious about keeping a stable daily routine, I suddenly realized that I’d wasted a lot of idle time when I didn’t have a schedule. I used to spend half my free time worrying about how I was being so unproductive, thus eating up hours that I could have actually used productively (a self-fulfilling prophecy at its finest!).

When I decided that I needed to clean up my act, I was suddenly getting more freelance projects, spending more time with friends, and finally making progress on the guitar. Also, the first draft of my first fiction novel is well on its way to becoming an actual published book (thanks, NaNoWriMo!). I know I couldn’t have accomplished half of these little personal triumphs if I hadn’t given myself a bit more structure.

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5. Routines make you feel like you’re working a bit more with society instead of fighting against it.

As an INFP, my inner rebellious nature and against-the-grain views can make me feel pretty isolated at times. But going entirely against society by not following any sort of routine was an exhausting uphill battle that was starting to wear me down (big time).

Then it dawned on me: I can still be my eccentric self while also following a routine that fits me. I didn’t have to give up who I was to follow a routine, and life honestly became a lot easier once I found a schedule that worked for me. I like to think of this as INFPs flowing along with the current of life, only they’re wearing their own unique, funky bathing suit for the ride. It’s all a balancing act, and a fun one at that.

Let’s face it: This whole “adulting” thing is hard enough, but it can feel exponentially harder when you’re a spontaneous, daydreaming INFP. We tend to not only fall off the wagon — but get full-on trampled by it — if we have no structure in our lives.

So, what do you have to lose? Try setting a schedule and see if you like it. And don’t fret: You don’t have to follow your routine to a “T” — INFPs are far from being Type A personalities, after all. You want to snooze your alarm three times before getting up? You need to practice your new tai chi moves during your lunch break? Go for it. Establishing a routine isn’t about turning yourself into a cookie-cutter robot — it’s about finding your own unique balance between kooky and productive.

Nothing can take that special, mystical INFP glimmer out of your eye. Not even a routine, I promise.

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