Introvert: How To Avoid Introvert Overwhelm

avoid introvert overwhelm

There are better ways than this! 😉

One of the biggest challenges introverts face is feeling overwhelmed by the things that extroverts handle with ease.  Running errands, meeting new people, and engaging in small talk are just a few examples of activities that can feel overwhelming for introverts.

It’s not that we aren’t capable or competent.  It’s not even that we dislike the above activities.  It’s just that they wear us out much more quickly than they would the average extrovert.

This is really difficult for most people to wrap their head around.  They just don’t get why introverts absolutely NEED to limit outside stimulation in order to feel at our best. They can’t comprehend how us innies can like people and find them totally draining and overwhelming at the same time.

Our introverted susceptibility to overstimulation simply doesn’t make sense to the average extrovert.  And, you know what? I can completely understand why.

In our society, busy is a badge of honor and exhaustion is a status symbol.  “So, you’re tired and overwhelmed, are you?  Welcome to the club,” is what many would say.  But feeling burnt out and exhausted is no way to live.

As introverts, we need to take special care to guard our energy – and our sanity – against the things that threaten to flatten us to the ground.  In a world that points to the busybody extrovert as the model for success, this can be difficult.

Read on to learn how you can prevent introvert overwhelm before it hits.

Beat it with batching

Perhaps you’ve heard about batching before.  It is often discussed as a great productivity booster.  I’m not a big fan of the word “productivity”, since it evokes images of me transforming into an expressionless robot, BUT batching really can help you to be insanely productive, while also preventing introvert overwhelm.

How it works

The idea is that you “batch” similar tasks, and do them all at the same time, instead of hopping around from one random task to the next.  For example, instead of checking your email throughout the day, you spend one hour zeroing your inbox per day and that’s it.  Or, if you’re a creative person, you spend a whole day or half day  creating, and then do all of your administrative tasks in another, separate batch.

Why it works so well

Did you know that introverts take longer to refocus after switching tasks than extroverts?  True story.  Our brains are wired for intense focus on one thing.  Every time you switch to a different type of task, your brain has to change gears.  This not only wastes time, but also leaves you feeling frazzled and exhausted.

 Going on a mini retreat

 In order to prevent exhaustion and overwhelm, it is really important to schedule in some innie self-care time.   A great way to do this is by planning a mini retreat. Even if you don’t have the time or finances for a real vacation, you can probably set aside a day or two for a mini  innie retreat.

Here are some ideas for a mini retreat:

  •  Take a two-day hiatus from social media and email so that you have time to read, wander and daydream
  •  Spend the weekend in a nearby city.  Take the scenic route if you can.  The journey is half the fun.
  •  Do all of your brainstorming and reading outside or in bed, so it feels like a treat rather than a chore.
  •  Take yourself on a daylong date.  Go for a picnic during the day, then treat yourself to dinner and a movie in the evening.
Michaela Chung

Me on a mini retreat in Canada!

Follow your introverted intuition 

 Most introverts have strong intuition.  When you take the time to listen to those inner whisperings, you are much less susceptible to feelings of overwhelm.   This has to do with the 80/20 rule of productivity (there’s that word again!).

The 80/20 rule states that 20 percent of the work we do causes 80 percent of the results.  So, the key to success is not to do more work, but to focus more on the 20 percent that has the greatest impact.

How do you do this?  Tapping into your introverted intuition is the best way to avoid spinning your wheels on tasks that don’t matter.  Save yourself time and stress by going with your gut instinct – even if it doesn’t seem logical at the time.

What about you?

How do you deal with overwhelm? Feel free to share in the comments below!

 

7 Comments

  1. When I was younger and not honest with myself, I drove myself hard! Made myself extremely busy and I took this as a badge of honour. Being a perfectionist also meant I was extremely hard on myself. Eventually, no matter how hard you try to push yourself through the endless hours in an extremely extroverted environment, your body and your mind will say eventually … “ya know … ENOUGH OF THIS! ” Your body and mind will revolt. You will not be able to force yourself against unbearable odds anymore. If you see this happening within you, fight for the right conditions at work and in your life to give you the space your normal introverted self deserves.

    Reply
    • Very true, Michael. Eventually, you will pay in some way for pushing your body and mind too far. Often, the result is burnout and depression.

      Reply
  2. It’s interesting you say that being ‘busy’ or ‘exhausted’ is considered a badge of honour. I guess the reason for this is because busyness demonstrates we are in someway ‘in demand’ the people want our company or our resources for one reason or another – something ‘more important’ to do! I used to be a very bored, lonely young man, hearing how everyone was ‘busy’ (especially girls I was interested in!) become very irritating.

    What you say about the need to change gears is very interesting, and I think one of the challenges when it comes to socialising is that introverts tend to have much deeper, more specialist interests, than a broad range of interests. I’m very much like this, I’ve learned to accepts that’s just the way I am. I used to be very eager to join in any conversation, but nowadays if I’m with a group of people and the conversation goes onto something I don’t know much about, I just keep quiet and hold off till the conversation moves on – it always does eventually!

    Reply
    • Great insights, Chris. You bring up an interesting point about how introverts tend to have a specialist approach to their interests. It is so true. I have a habit of having an obsession for a few months to a few years before moving on to my next obsession. Past obsessions include: religion, dance, sewing, and writing.

      Reply
  3. Great article! I definitely agree that batching can be an excellent productivity tool. I also think that as introverts, a lot of us learned how to work under the extrovert ideal, so it can be helpful to un-learn some of the work habits that do not complement our way thinking.

    For example, I think that a lot of tasks (especially creative work) can be completed more quickly by giving the work assignment some time to “digest” in our minds, so we can figure out the most efficient approach to completing the task before we actually pick up our tools to do the job. This seems to go against the extrovert ideal of “just diving right in” when approaching work, and to echo Michel’s comments previously, it goes totally against the grain of needing to make yourself visibly busy during every moment of the day in order to earn the productivity badge at work. I guess this probably also relates to the concept of tapping into the “introverted intuition”, like you mentioned in your post.

    Some of my best “work” has been done in my head, on my way home from the office on the subway 🙂

    Reply
    • Absolutely, Phillip! Letting your mind “digest” an assignment/project as you say, is an important element of creative work. 🙂

      Reply
  4. I rinse my whole head with ice cold water for 10-15 minutes and kick back on the recliner for a solid half hour +.

    Reply

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