How I Learned to Plan as an INFP: Keeping Routines

Tuesday, August 7, 2018
This is the last part of the series How I Learned to Plan as an INFPAlthough this is designed with the "INFP" point of view, intuitives, especially those who use extroverted intuition may find this helpful as well. 

To see previous articles, click here.

"If I could just focus and stick to it, I could accomplish so much more."

Extroverted Intuition seeks novelty. Routines are the opposite of that and involve our tertiary function of introverted sensing. As a result, they can be hard for INFPs to maintain. I can’t seem to keep up with cleaning day, grocery shopping day, and so on, but routines aren't entirely out of my reach.

Every morning I start my day with a cup of tea. After that point anything can happen. My morning routine has gone from breakfast-tea-journaling to breakfast-tea-exercise to tea-breakfast-deep breathing. The thing is, only two things on that list are routine: Tea and breakfast. And both of those can change. I can have different flavors of tea and different kinds of breakfast meals. There is variety in this routine.

When it comes to creating my own personal routines, here are some techniques that I've found helpful:

The Not-So-Routine Routine 

Pick one simple thing that you enjoy doing. Keep the thing you pick generalized. For example, reading is a good activity to start with because there's a wide variety of books. Then plan to do that activity after a meal, taking a shower, or something else that you already have a habit of doing every day. So, let's say after dinner you will take 15 minutes to read.

Stick with that until it's something you routinely do. Allow at least two weeks to month. After you got that down, try adding something else. Like "After dinner, I'll read a book for 15 minutes and then take 10 minutes to clean."  Test that out and see how long you stick with it. If you get tired of it, swap cleaning with something else. You could go from dinner-read-clean to dinner-read-exercise to dinner-read-journal or you can swap the order of those things. The trick is to keep one or two things consistent and to anchor the routine to something that you already do regularly.

A Limited Time Routine

Another way to get things done on a somewhat routine basis is to set time limits for how long you plan to stick to it. In the past I've found success in planning to write every day for two weeks or cleaning kitchen regularly for a month, and then after the time is up reverting to my naturally haphazard ways. Routines are easy to keep for a short period of time.

Automatic Routines

Take full advantage of technology! Set as many routine tasks to happen automatically (bill pay, for example) as possible. There are also many online retailers who offer subscriptions for products that are bought on a regular basis. If you keep forgetting to buy the toilet tissue, set an online subscription for it so it can be delivered regularly to your house. Don’t take on more routine tasks than you need to.

And Don't Forget About Introverted Feeling...

Have you ever worked on a project that became so mesmerizing that you worked on it every day without fail for an extended amount of time? That's not only flow, but it's also introverted feeling at work. Understanding introverted feeling and being aware of what lines up with your personal values can help with deciding what things should be made into a routine. If you have problems sticking to something, it could be that something isn't lining up with introverted feeling.

I find that when I have a goal that lines up with my introverted feeling, I don't have to work hard to create a routine to get it done. It's almost like the routine creates itself.

For more about introverted feeling, check out my post about it here. 

One thing I do want to mention is that I don't force myself to focus. If I can't focus on something, there is a good reason for it. Either I need to take a break and come back to it later, or it's something that's not lining up with what I need at the moment.

So when you’re having problems focusing, it could be that the current activity is not aligned with your needs and some adjustments may need to be made. Try doing this activity at another time, at another place, or try out an alternative method of accomplishing the same thing.

Getting into Action and Feeling Achievement 

Although we INFPs like to do what we feel like, our inferior extroverted thinking makes personal achievement and getting things done attractive to us. However, we are not ESTJs and the forceful, “get it all done now as efficiently as possible!” can backfire. We need more of a gentle push forwards. Here are some things I've tried to make progress on my tasks and keep them in front of me.

Keep Due Dates Where You Can See Them 

Once again, I have good things to say about the white board. Writing due dates on a white board is a great way for me to keep what I need to do in front of my face. 

If you prefer not to use a white board, highlight time sensitive tasks on your calendar or write them in a different color. Set corresponding reminders on your phone. 

One point about setting reminders: I find that for reoccurring reminders, for the first month or so they work, but then after that, I start ignoring them. So, I set reminders for important one-time events, and keep my eye on the calendar for repeating tasks. I'm more likely to do reoccurring tasks if I look on my calendar or whiteboard and see it upcoming, verses getting constant phone reminders. With repetitive phone reminders, I usually get annoyed, press snooze, and forget about it. Be aware of when phone reminders work for you and when they don't. 

Another thing to try: When putting a due date on a calendar, set a due date that is earlier than the real due date. This isn’t guaranteed to stop procrastination, but at least, you may get an earlier start on the task than usual.  

Pick What Speaks to You from Your Tasks List 

Sometimes, I look through my tasks list and pick a task that I feel like taking on at the moment. Then I focus on that task until I get it done. After that, I pull out my list and pick something else. As an INFP, this allows us to use our introverted feeling and introverted sensing to decide what to do next. For more about this method, check out this post from Type In Mind

Celebrate Your Half-Done Tasks 

Don't leave half done tasks for the day unmarked. Making progress on tasks is just as important as finishing them. If you have check boxes on your list, fill it in half way. One method that I like is marking half-done tasks as done and then rewriting them for the next day. 

For example, on a Monday I could have "Write blog post." I write half of it and mark the task as done. Then for the next day I make a task called, "Write more of my blog post."  As I go about this one step at a time, eventually that post is done. 
This also works well for tasks that I don’t feel like doing. It allows me to take on things one step at a time and feel like each step I take matters. 

Reflecting on the Day

As INFPs, our days often don’t go as planned. However, that’s not a bad thing. What makes it feel not so great is that we have a hard time seeing what we have accomplished throughout the day. If you stuck to your plans or not, take some time to reflect on what you did and appreciated about your day.  I find that writing what I did for the day makes me aware of all the things that I did verses all the things I didn’t do, and I feel more satisfied.   

Think about the following questions:

  • What did I complete today? 
  • What do I like the most about what I accomplished today? 
  • What can I do to make tomorrow better?  

Writing down a few things to be grateful for can also be a good way to reflect on the little ways that your day was meaningful, even if it didn’t feel like it.


Thank you for reading to the end of this series about How I Learned to Plan as an INFP. I hope it helps you find some direction on your journey of more effectively using your time to reach your goals. 

And I know I mentioned this in my first post, but please remember to...

Do What Works 

If some advice here has been helpful and made a difference, that's great! If you have your own personal method that works well, that's great too. Just don't change what is already effective because I've shared something different. Even for myself, learning to plan my day is an ever evolving process and what works for me now could change.

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