Introvert vs. Extrovert in the Workplace

Let’s talk about one of the most important, and most misunderstood, distinctions in time management. The terms ‘introvert’ and ‘extrovert’ are not necessarily indicators of social preferences, but are actually markers of how a person loses and recharges energy. Considering how much of time management is actually energy management, it’s important for us to get this correct. 

A true introvert is someone who needs frequent breaks from stimulation in order to recharge. To an introvert, stimulation could be interpersonal, but it could also be a lot of other things. Instead of working with background noise, they tend to prefer silence to reach peak productivity. If you fall into this category, here are a few ways to make sure your work time is more productive:

  • Limit distractions. Office noise, a TV in the background, push notifications, and emails can all become disruptive distractions for an introvert. Before committing to a deep work session, introverts should reduce distractions so they are not losing unnecessary energy. Check out a few tips for mastering your inbox to get you started.
  • Declutter your workspace. As an introvert, minimalism is key as physical items can feel like stimulation. Piles of papers, food, and other items may detract from a peaceful and productive mind, so make sure your space is tidy before you begin working.
  • Weekly planning. Having a plan ensures you include time to recharge. Even better, schedule recharge time after something that could deplete your energy, like a long meeting or trip to the grocery store. 

On the other hand, extroverts are those who need stimuli to feel productive and engaged. Do you listen to music while typing up a report? Or find it impossible to do housework without talking on the phone or listening to a podcast? If you said yes, you are likely an extrovert who could use the following tips to spark productivity:

  • Select the right stimuli. Choose stimuli that increase productivity. If you listen to music, but get distracted with words, try an upbeat playlist without words. Movie soundtracks or LoFi tunes tend to work well, and be sure to check out Origami Day playlists on Spotify.
  • Shift your normal working space. If possible, take one day weekly to work in a different workspace environment. This small change can provide excitement and increase motivation. Public libraries are a favorite as they offer just enough stimulation without distraction.
  • Weekly planning. This is not just a reminder for introverts. An extrovert’s weekly plan could include things like walking at lunch or spending time with friends and family. It’s also important for extroverts to make sure they are taking stimulation breaks among deep work blocks, which tend to be more draining for this type.

Research has shown that knowing how you process information and recharge helps you to use time to your advantage. If you are not sure where you stand, use this simple quiz as a guide for determining your introversion or extroversion preference. Then, as you sit down to make a weekly plan, consider ways to feed your specific stimulation needs. If you are still stuck on how to make the most of your time for your specific preference, we are always here to help you :)


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