Stop the Madness! Time Management Tips for ENFPs

Categories: Personal Growth, ENFP

ENFPs are idea factories. We are bold creators who are eager to take on challenges, launch projects, and generate new solutions. Our ENFP personality type is happiest when we’re creating; whether we’re starting up a side hustle, designing a website or building a new work system.

But each bright burst of creativity is followed by a “yikes” moment. That’s when we realize how much work we just heaped onto a to-do list that was already overflowing with tasks from the last ten schemes we launched!

At this point, we have to slog through boring, uncreative chores for days or weeks to get caught up —  exactly the situation we are least suited for. Darkness sets in, and work becomes a misery.

To a creative ENFP, the solution seems obvious — launch something new and feel enthusiastic again! Starting a new project or two will boost our energy and help us enjoy work again…and so the madness continues.

If you’re trapped in this cycle of creation-overload-suffering-creation, here’s how to break free. 

Not every idea needs follow-through

The only way to survive the avalanche of ideas your brain generates is to start treating most of them as fun thought experiments. Learn to enjoy the process of dreaming up ideas without pressuring yourself to turn all of them into reality.

Once you let go of the idea that you have to implement everything you imagine, you’ll feel less scattered and more focused immediately. It’s very freeing and powerful to Marie Kondo your brain.

Develop finite projects

If you’re a typical ENFP who is happiest when launching something fresh, then don’t get bogged down in ongoing ventures that will add layer upon layer to your daily upkeep tasks. Instead, follow up only on ideas that have a clear endpoint. That way, you can always be looking forward to a specific date when you’ll be free to start your next new project. 

For instance, if you have information to share, write a book rather than building a website. A website demands ongoing attention, fresh content, and constant updates. Once a book is finished, you are blissfully free to move on.

Once you start seeking finite alternatives for your ideas, you’ll see them everywhere. If you’re an ENFP real estate investor, you could flip houses instead of becoming a landlord. If you’re an accountant, specialize in helping new businesses set up their books or solve specific problems instead of signing up long-term clients. If you’re a consultant, find a way to build endpoints into each contract. 

Refresh your project management system

Remember what back-to-school season felt like as a kid? A fresh new locker, a different colored notebook for each subject, a binder with pockets to organize your papers — these are outward reflections of an internal promise to finally be organized and productive. And by the end of the year, what did your locker and books look like? Thank goodness you got a fresh start again in September, right?

That’s how project management systems are. Once in a while, it’s good to move into a new setup. Filling a blank slate gives you a chance to rethink your recurring tasks, clean out abandoned projects, and look with a fresh eye at how you spend your time and what you can eliminate or delegate. 

Look for systems with built-in project management features and recurring tasks, like Asana or Wrike, to help you stay on top of the details that often slip an ENFPs mind.

A note of warning:  Shopping for a new project management app — reading reviews, comparing features, downloading free trials — can be an appealing distraction when we’re overwhelmed, but it’s very time-consuming. Wait for a time when you’re not in crisis mode to adopt a new program, and don’t switch more than once every year or two.

Keep a daily mini-list 

If you’ve filled up your project management system with an unrealistic number of tasks and goals and now you’re afraid to look at it — well, you’re not alone. That’s the ENFP way. 

In the hands of an ENFP, even the best project management software can become a soul-crushing reminder of all the great ideas we keep putting off. Six months ago, you thought today would be the perfect time to develop that new product line or redesign your website. It’s not helpful to see those action items piling up when you’re critically overburdened. 

The solution is to have a separate mini-list with no more than five items for your daily tasks. Use your project manager to make sure you don’t forget to add essential benchmarks or ongoing tasks to your mini-list. Write a new list each morning, on paper or in a checklist app, and prioritize it. You’ll probably still try to tackle a week’s worth of tasks each day, but at least it won’t snowball overnight.

Periodically tidy up your project management app by rescheduling or removing tasks that aren’t important enough to make it onto the mini-list.

Use micro-goals to get through mundane tasks

Have you ever had to plow through a long stretch of tedious or repetitive work? You probably procrastinated and had trouble focusing — maybe even to the point of damaging your self-esteem or your reputation. It’s easy for ENFPs to seem lazy or inattentive to detail when we’re overwhelmed with the wrong sort of tasks. But we’re not lazy at all; we’re super productive and focused when we’re fully engaged. We just don’t have a high tolerance for boredom.

Once you recognize what’s happening, you can stop beating yourself up and find ways to cope. If you can’t delegate monotonous work, tackle it in bite-sized pieces. Write one sentence or five lines of code. Read three emails. Enter six transactions. Take short breaks and increase the amount of work you do in each burst. Once you get moving, inertia will keep you going forward. 

Most importantly, stop beating yourself up mentally. You may struggle with productivity when it comes to menial tasks, but you make up for that weakness when you’re allowed to use your charisma, creativity, and foresight. Take a broad view and give yourself credit for your overall accomplishments.

Change your environment

ENFPs love change and variety more than anything. When you’re struggling with a tough workday, you can feed your thirst for novelty with changes in your surroundings. Even small changes, like listening to a wildly different playlist or sitting in a different spot, can energize a bored ENFP. 

If you’re not chained to an office, try working at home or in a cafe. If you usually work at home, find a co-working space with a daily rate. Some ENFPs even cafe-hop all day, moving to a new location every time they complete a set of tasks. 

Remove distractions

Multitasking may be your default mode, but every time you get pulled away from your work, there’s a chance you won’t find your way back. When you need to focus, close out your email, silence your phone, and shut down social media notifications.

Consider installing a browser plug-in or app that minimizes distractions. RescueTime is a popular choice that works with a variety of systems and browsers. 

Use a binder for long-range planning

The science is clear: writing things out longhand helps us connect more deeply with our thoughts and improves our neural functioning. Accessing that deeper part of the brain is especially useful when we’re thinking about our long-term plans and priorities. 

A binder with tabbed sections is the perfect tool for an ENFP’s multitasking brain. As you work on your plans, you can flip back and forth between sections to integrate your intentions for family, finances, work, hobbies, personal life, community, and other priorities.

The takeaway

Generating ideas is the ENFP personality’s superpower, but trying to follow up on every new brainchild leads to a crushing load of daily tasks. When burdened with too much uncreative work, ENFPs become unfocused, sluggish, or even depressed.

Our personality type needs to learn how to concentrate on finite plans so that we can enjoy our strengths as serial creators, and we need to adopt strategies for staying productive when we’re not emotionally engaged with our work.

Once we’re armed with the right planning tools and tactics, ENFPs are an unstoppable force in the workplace.

Lauren Haas

Lauren Haas is a nomad who has been living out of a backpack since 2013. She travels the world and supports herself by freelance writing, fundraising, managing social media, and leading Women’s Adventure Tours. Lauren has learned to embrace her ENFP quirks and relish her Challenger/Enthusiast nature, but she still has trouble keeping up with the laundry.

Comments

Barbara Wang (not verified) says...

This article was super helpful. I was tested by a prospective employer and determined to be an ENFP. I've read about my personality type and have interest in understanding my type. This, however, might be one of the first that offers some do-able, practical advice for being more productive and as a result, lesser stressed and more happy. Thank you! 

Sandy Braakman (not verified) says...

Hello,

Thank you very much for your most helpful article. If you can believe it, I am 60 years old and still struggling to find my way...partly/mostly because I grew up in a very structured (although loving) environment with strict social expectations....which meant sticking to the "right" way of doing things. When I read your article, it reminded me that I have been trying to fit a square peg into a round hole and becoming more and more desolate and filled with shame in the process. I am not exactly sure how I will move forward but knowing that who I am is creative, project oriented and needing fluid structure brings me peace and hope. Thank you again and all the best to you. 

Sandy :)

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