INFP procrastination

Anyone can struggle with procrastination, but for the INFP personality, it can be an especially tough habit to break. I should know.

I am an INFP who has been self-employed for seven years. That is seven years of engaging in a daily battle with my own willpower. Sometimes I win. Often I don’t. This is frustrating, to say the least.

If you’re an INFP procrastinator like me, you know how it feels to desperately want to finish (or start) a project and be unable to bring yourself to just F’n do it.

You might spend hours, days, or even weeks putting off a task that takes only ten minutes. Phone calls, emails, and tedious technical tasks might be some of your favorite things to procrastinate. Not only that.

You may find yourself procrastinating bigger more important things that you actually want to do. For example, I recently received this comment from an INFP reader named Kely:

“I am an unhealthy INFP. Escapism and procrastination are eating me up. I have been stuck for almost 3 years now with my undergraduate thesis. I hate myself for escaping and procrastinating but most of the time, I’m not doing anything about it. I hate it.”

I know how you feel, Kely! And I’m sure many INFPs can relate. Because INFPs are idealists with an intense need to create, feeling blocked can be especially difficult for us. 

Sometimes, it can feel like our whole life is one big long procrastination party. And we do NOT like parties. 

INFPs need purpose

Another thing about INFPs is that we need to feel a sense of purpose. We are a lot like INFJs in that way. Oftentimes, our purpose involves putting our creative work out into the world. 

When the procrastination monster stops us from creating, we can start to feel lost and despondent. Our creative spirit won’t be satisfied by TV, snacking, and scrolling. 

Even activities that may seem productive, like cleaning, answering emails, or journalling are actually counterproductive when we use them to put off what our soul NEEDS us to do. 

Healthy distractions 

I am an INFP who has become almost religious about my habits and rituals. I have many morning routines that I rotate through, including yoga, visualizations, and writing. 

These rituals are meant to set the stage for more focus and creativity throughout the day. But if I’m not careful, I can use them as a distraction from the real work I want and need to do. 

Being in lockdown has made the procrastination struggle all the more challenging. Every personality type is facing the realization that more time does not necessarily equal more productivity. 

More hours in the day simply means more hours to ruminate, procrastinate, and then get down on yourself for your lack of discipline. 

Even though I still struggle with procrastination, I’ve discovered a few ways to move past it and get important sh*t done. 

How to overcome procrastination

Make sure you actually want or need to do it

As I mentioned, INFPs need to feel a sense of purpose. We also tend to have extreme difficulty focusing on activities that we’re not genuinely interested in. Rather than fighting this innate quality, try to work with it by choosing activities that you are passionate about.

Of course, some tedious tasks are unavoidable. If you really need to do something that you don’t want to do, the next tips will help.

Make it more fun or interesting

People tend to procrastinate tasks that are boring and tedious. If you’re a highly creative INFP like me, anything that seems like a left brain activity can seem daunting. 

Taxes, budgets, business planning—these are all things I love to put off. Talk to my accountant and he’ll agree. Even with Taxcaster, detailed spreadsheets, and the abundance of other helpful resources, the thought of filing taxes will never conjure any further willpower from yours truly. 

That’s why I try to make anything I don’t want to do as enjoyable as possible. For example, I have a weekly money date during which I listen to an audio from a money mentor, set money goals, and look at my finances. I try to keep it simple and casual, so I don’t build it up to be this big scary thing. 

Other ideas for making tedious activities more enjoyable is to listen to music (I listen to om meditation music while I write), go outside and work under a tree, or make your workspace into a little haven with plants, essential oil diffusers, and beautiful art. 

I do all of the above and it works…until it doesn’t. When my usual tricks don’t work, it’s time to take a closer look at what the real problem is. 

Get to the root of the problem

There can be many reasons why you procrastinate a particular activity. We’ve already covered not actually wanting/needing to do it, and plain old boredom. Other reasons can include:

  • Being disconnected from your bigger WHY for doing it
  • A lack of structure in the activity or the way you approach it
  • Fear-based resistance to the task 
  • A lack of intrinsic rewards
  • A lack of meaning
  • The task is too difficult

Once you know what the real reason behind your procrastination is, you can make appropriate changes. 

Revisiting your bigger WHY or purpose behind a task is always a good idea. Why is the activity important to you, and how does it support your bigger goals?

Chunk it down

If a task seems too difficult or daunting, it helps to chunk it down. I sometimes use Francesco Cirillo’s Pomodoro Technique. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals that are 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks.

Because getting started is usually the hardest part, the Pomodoro Technique is great for tricking yourself into breaking ground on a task. 

Use the 5 Second Rule

In Mel Robbins’s book, The 5 Second Rule, she explains how to use a countdown method to stop procrastinating. 

When you want to do something, just count 5,4,3,2,1 and do it before your brain has time to talk you out of it. And that’s it. How she wrote an entire book to explain this method is a mystery to me, but it works!

Make it easier or don’t do it

Sometimes a task is just too difficult to commit to doing it consistently. For example, I have always had dreams of becoming a successful YouTuber with hundreds of thousands of subscribers. To do that you must post videos consistently, once a week at least. 

Although my videos usually do well, for me the process of filming and editing videos is so difficult and overstimulating that I’ve never been able to do it consistently. 

I had to come to accept that I need to either make my videos extremely simple (just me talking to the camera) or do a podcast instead. 

And that’s exactly what I did! I started a comedy podcast called Michaela Up Close that I post on YouTube, as well as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher. 

I hope you found these tips helpful! If you’re an INFP who procrastinates, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please do share in the comments below.