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How I Learned to Plan as an INFP: Creating a Planning Method

Tuesday, July 10, 2018
This is part three of the series How I Learned to Plan as an INFP. Although this is designed with the "INFP" point of view, intuitives, especially those who use extroverted intuition may find this helpful as well. 

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But First, A Little Bit on Setting Priorities 


As an INFP my priorities change throughout the day. At one point, cleaning may be a priority but that can change into exploring a new idea. I find that when I try to force myself to prioritize, everything feels like it has the same amount of urgency. INFPs take things as they come, either from the environment or from our mind. This is another reason why it’s best to add tasks to the day as it goes or create a general overview of the day, instead of mapping out everything in detail from the start.

My goal is not to fill my day with stuff to do. My mind can come up with enough stuff to do on its own. The goal is to do what needs to be addressed for the day plus what I want to work on.

So with that in mind, I avoid filling my days with only time sensitive tasks if it’s not necessary—especially if those are mundane tasks that don’t intertwine with my values. It’s okay to tackle the mundane things, just don’t fill the day with them. For example, doing a day full of cleaning when you crave to do something else. Do you really have to clean for the entire day? Or would doing a half day be okay too? Or for two hours? Be flexible with yourself and don’t be afraid to adjust expectations.

There have been times when I knew friends were coming over, and I spent the entire day cleaning the house before they came. Later I learned that taking two hours or less to clean the bathroom and the kitchen worked just as well, and I enjoyed the company more. Even when things are time sensitive, perfectionism can cause me to add more to the task than necessary. In the end, I try to balance my day between time sensitive items and doing what I feel like.

If your day is packed to max, try rescheduling some activities and making time to recharge instead.

Be Aware of Social Events

If my day is full of socializing, I try to do more relaxing and solitude during my free time. And by solitude, that means avoiding social media, emails, phone calls and the like, so that I’ll have the energy to enjoy my social engagements.

Pomodero 

Some days I'm really torn between what I want to do and what I have to do, and it's hard for me to set a priority.  So to make progress in both areas, I set a timer to work on what I want for 25 minutes. Then when time's up, I work on what I have to do for 15 minutes. Then I work on what I want for another 25 minutes. I continue to alternate between what I want to do and what I have to do. I've found this to be very effective, especially when working on projects where it's easy for me to lose myself.

The Dreaded Overwhelm

No matter how relaxed and balanced you are with your plans, at some point or another the feeling of overwhelm is going to rear its ugly head. Unexpected things happen, and when they do, sometimes they can overtake us. When I'm faced with overwhelm, I first ask myself:

What can I do today for today?

Not what I can do today for tomorrow or what can I do today for next week. As an INFP, my brain lives in the future, and when I'm overwhelmed I am often thinking about what I need to do tomorrow for next week, next month, for the next 6 months...it's like the future implodes in to a single point of time.

Focusing directly on the day ahead of me and nothing more helps. Once I figure out what I need to do today for today, then I can think about what I can do today for tomorrow--tomorrow being the next day only. When overwhelmed, I try to limit my foresight to what is immediately ahead.

Creating a Planning Method

I realized that with just a few tools, I can create my own planning method using just about anything. 

It all fits together like this:





So if you've been following along with the previous sections, you would already have a reminders list, a calendar, and maybe a daily tasks list/schedule. 

Take out your reminders list, and ask yourself the following questions about it. You may want to write down your answers, so you can think about them more deeply: 

1. Do phone reminders always work for me, or do I remember things better when I write them?
2. Do I need portability, or is it okay if I leave my reminders list at home most of the time? 
3. If I need portability, what do I need to have with me?  (For example, you may need to take your reminders list for work with you, but you can leave your reminders list for home at home.)
4. Do I need to have my reminders list with me all the time for reference, or would it be okay if I jot down little things while on the go, and copy them to my reminders list when I return home? 
5. Is there anything I need to have constantly visible and in my face? What do I need to keep in front of me?
6. If I need visibility, how can I make what I currently use for my reminders list more visible?
7. If I need portability, how can I  make my reminders list more portable?

In this list of questions, question #1 is the most important. It helps you to see where your strengths are. If you forget or ignore phone reminders, rarely check calendar/to-do apps, or if checking calendar/to-do apps feels like a chore, then you would want to use analog methods to plan. White boards, paper planners, and anything else that's part of the physical world. If you are a person who checks their digital calendar religiously, then digital solutions won't be a struggle. With that in mind, you can give more useful answers to questions 6 and 7. 

Repeat answering these questions for your calendar and daily tasks/schedule if you have one, replacing the words "reminders list" with what you're focusing on.

As you do so, keep in mind that digital methods can be mixed with analog ones. For example, you may prefer a digital calendar to keep track of events, but use a white board for your reminders list. Use your imagination and be aware of your needs.  

If you've discovered that you need portability and visibility, but you don't know where to start, below are some suggestions:

Portability

  • Use a task list app for your phone or consider using a small paper planner or notebook.  
  • Consider if it’s easier to take out a pen and write while on the go or type on your phone.
  • When you’re not at home, do you spend most of the day sitting or on your feet? Using a paper planner would be easier if you're sitting verses adding things to it while you’re walking around in the middle of shopping or doing other activities.
  • If you prefer writing but would rather not take your planner with you, could you scan parts of it with your phone to take with you? Or maybe copy parts of it by hand into a small notebook?
  • If you need everything on you all the time, consider Bullet Journaling if you’re an analog person or using only digital solutions. 

Visibility:

  • Go for white boards, bulletin boards, and sticky notes (but put all of those sticky notes on a common board so that they’re not all over the place) to keep tasks in your face. 
  • If you prefer paper, use the largest planner you can find and lay it out open on a table.
  • Really, laying any paper planner opened on a table is useful. 
  • Use different colors, drawings, or stickers to make important items stand out. 
  • To add visibility to digital methods, use reminders, widgets, or an app that can pin notes to the notifications bar of your phone.
  • To add visibility to a portable sized paper planner or notebook, go for one that's spiral or disc bound so you can always have the tasks for the day in your face when you pull it out. Or write your tasks for the day on sticky note and attach it to the front with a binder clip. Also try using tabs for sections that you want to get to quickly. 

For example, as of this writing,  I use a Bullet Journal that I leave open on a table for my reminders list, daily/tasks notes, and calendar. I've inserted colorful tabs to mark pages of information that I reference regularly, and that has been unexpectedly helpful. I find the tabs more useful than checking the index all the time. However, I rarely carry my Bullet Journal with me. It's usually at home. I write shopping lists and time sensitive items on a white board to keep those things more visible.

While out and about I use Google Keep to make notes quickly, and I copy that information to my Bullet Journal once I get back home.

It will take some experimentation, but when you know what you need, it's easier to find what works.




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