Introverts need to budget their energy reserves like others budget money

All the jargon about introversion and extraversion may be confusing to many but most people do understand the need for “budgeting” resources.

Just as most of us must watch our financial spending closely, introverts have to do the same with their energy. Unless you are one of the recently won the lottery or have some endless source of income, then you usually budget your finances to some degree. Of course, some have more to work with than others. The same is true for introverts. Some of us may have larger energy reserves than others but for the most part, introverts have small reserves of energy that must be refilled frequently.

For this introvert, the magic number or amount of time that I can spend energy without completely emptying the tank is about three hours. After three hours of an activity, I’m finished and looking for the nearest exit. This is especially true if I’m out shopping or have to attend an event or party… basically, anything that involves a lot of interaction with other people will burn up my energy source quickly.

Since most people can understand budgeting finances, let’s look at some common tips for managing money.

  • Plan ahead – take a look at a typical week/month and determine how much money is coming in and what will need to go out.
  • Be aware of “leakage” unplanned expenses – trips to the ATM, going out for fast-food… any expense that is not regularly a part of your planned budget.
  • Don’t be afraid to cut back – what expenses can be cut out or what could you do without or possibly sell?
  • Don’t spend your surplus – if you budget well and have a surplus then save it or invest it.
  • Don’t deplete your bank accounts – always leave funds for unexpected expenses or emergencies.

Ok, now let’s apply those same tips to budgeting energy for introverts.

  • Plan ahead – plan your week/month; what activities or events do you have planned that will drain your energy bank? How much time will you have daily to recharge your battery or deposit energy into that bank?
  • Be aware of “leakage”, unplanned energy zappers – things like unexpected guests, last minute invites to events, or other types of stimulation can slowly drain your battery.
  • Don’t be afraid to cut back – determine what activities can wait until another time or what events can you cancel or decline on an invite.
  • Don’t spend your surplus – if you have managed your day/week well and have extra energy, don’t burn it up all at once, save it or spend it wisely
  • Don’t deplete your energy reserve – take time to refuel before you reach empty

Most people don’t have to budget their energy so tightly. However, these tips are good ideas for anyone. Most people are extroverts; we are the minority (3 extroverts to every 1 introvert). Extroverts typically can handle several activities in one day or attend several events in a single week without having a complete melt down but for introverts, if we do not have time to refuel then we have one of our “Jekyll and Hyde” episodes. Well, at least that is true for this introvert, not necessarily true for everyone.

If you want to read more about introverts, read The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World.

Introvert: Over-exposure to stimulation may require a nap to recharge

Extroverts may at times wish that their Introvert spouses or friends came with a set of instructions. If you haven’t had a crash course on “how to understand an Introvert” then it can be confusing when your friend appears exhausted after a simple trip to the shopping mall or when your spouse, who is very talkative at home, barely speaks to anyone at your office party.

Extraversion and Introversion are personality traits. An individual who is said to be extroverted is typically more outgoing, more talkative and seems to have a high level of energy. An introverted individual typically talks less, may avoid large social gatherings, and seems to live life at a slower pace.

It’s all about “energy”. All living things require energy (source of fuel) to function. Some living things require large stores of energy and others not so much. Some burn through their energy sources quickly so they have to refuel often and others reserve energy.

Let’s imagine people as battery operated toys for a moment. A toy that has many functions, such as one that moves in many directions, plays music, and lights up in some way will require a larger supply of batteries than a simple toy that may just play a sound or give off a soft glow of light. What if that toy moves, plays music, and lights up every time someone walks past it? In that case, it may require large batteries that may need to be recharged often. The other toy only operates at the push of a button so the energy source is being used slowly.

Are you beginning to get the picture? Extroverts burn a lot of energy because they are usually more active and outgoing. They tend to jump from one activity to another like the toy that moves, plays music and lights up. Unlike the toy, their battery is actually recharged when they interact with others or when they receive stimulation from their environment.

Ok, now it’s time to help those Extroverts understand their Introvert friends. Introverts are like the toy that reacts only when the button is pushed. They may sit quietly until someone draws them into the conversation by “pushing their button”.  Unlike the extrovert who welcomes stimulation, because it recharges their battery, the introvert avoids over stimulation because it has the opposite effect. Too much stimulation will quickly drain the battery of an introvert. Stimulation may come in many forms. It can be interaction with other people, either by being in a crowd at a gathering or among the crowd while out shopping. It can come in the form of multiple activities, such as household chores, caring for children, running errands, etc. Jumping from one activity to another can be exhausting for an introvert. Stimulation also comes from the noise of the environment. Introverts are sensitive to what they consider “noise”. Having the TV playing while people are trying to carry on a conversation is too much stimulation for many introverts. If you add in the sound of children playing and barking dogs then you will find that your introvert friend may soon need to retreat to the bedroom for a nap.

I have a strong introverted personality and I’m married to an extrovert…. so the source for this blog is mostly personal experience.

I’ll leave you with this.  Introverts are like Glow-Worms. Extroverts need to get out into the sun, but we carry our sunshine inside.

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If you are unsure about where you fall on the “introversion/extraversion” scale, take this quiz.