Anyone can struggle with procrastination, but for the INFP personality, it can be an especially tough habit to break. I should know.
I am an INFP who has been self-employed for seven years. That is seven years of engaging in a daily battle with my own willpower. Sometimes I win. Often I don’t. This is frustrating, to say the least.
If you’re an INFP procrastinator like me, you know how it feels to desperately want to finish (or start) a project and be unable to bring yourself to just F’n do it.
You might spend hours, days, or even weeks putting off a task that takes only ten minutes. Phone calls, emails, and tedious technical tasks might be some of your favorite things to procrastinate. Not only that.
You may find yourself procrastinating bigger more important things that you actually want to do. For example, I recently received this comment from an INFP reader named Kely:
“I am an unhealthy INFP. Escapism and procrastination are eating me up. I have been stuck for almost 3 years now with my undergraduate thesis. I hate myself for escaping and procrastinating but most of the time, I’m not doing anything about it. I hate it.”
I know how you feel, Kely! And I’m sure many INFPs can relate. Because INFPs are idealists with an intense need to create, feeling blocked can be especially difficult for us.
Sometimes, it can feel like our whole life is one big long procrastination party. And we do NOT like parties.
INFPs need purpose
Another thing about INFPs is that we need to feel a sense of purpose. We are a lot like INFJs in that way. Oftentimes, our purpose involves putting our creative work out into the world.
When the procrastination monster stops us from creating, we can start to feel lost and despondent. Our creative spirit won’t be satisfied by TV, snacking, and scrolling.
Even activities that may seem productive, like cleaning, answering emails, or journalling are actually counterproductive when we use them to put off what our soul NEEDS us to do.
I am an INFP who has become almost religious about my habits and rituals. I have many morning routines that I rotate through, including yoga, visualizations, and writing.
These rituals are meant to set the stage for more focus and creativity throughout the day. But if I’m not careful, I can use them as a distraction from the real work I want and need to do.
Being in lockdown has made the procrastination struggle all the more challenging. Every personality type is facing the realization that more time does not necessarily equal more productivity.
More hours in the day simply means more hours to ruminate, procrastinate, and then get down on yourself for your lack of discipline.
Even though I still struggle with procrastination, I’ve discovered a few ways to move past it and get important sh*t done.
How to overcome procrastination
Make sure you actually want or need to do it
As I mentioned, INFPs need to feel a sense of purpose. We also tend to have extreme difficulty focusing on activities that we’re not genuinely interested in. Rather than fighting this innate quality, try to work with it by choosing activities that you are passionate about.
Of course, some tedious tasks are unavoidable. If you really need to do something that you don’t want to do, the next tips will help.
Make it more fun or interesting
People tend to procrastinate tasks that are boring and tedious. If you’re a highly creative INFP like me, anything that seems like a left brain activity can seem daunting.
Taxes, budgets, business planning—these are all things I love to put off. Talk to my accountant and he’ll agree.
That’s why I try to make anything I don’t want to do as enjoyable as possible. For example, I have a weekly money date during which I listen to an audio from a money mentor, set money goals, and look at my finances. I try to keep it simple and casual, so I don’t build it up to be this big scary thing.
Other ideas for making tedious activities more enjoyable is to listen to music (I listen to om meditation music while I write), go outside and work under a tree, or make your workspace into a little haven with plants, essential oil diffusers, and beautiful art.
I do all of the above and it works…until it doesn’t. When my usual tricks don’t work, it’s time to take a closer look at what the real problem is.
Get to the root of the problem
There can be many reasons why you procrastinate a particular activity. We’ve already covered not actually wanting/needing to do it, and plain old boredom. Other reasons can include:
- Being disconnected from your bigger WHY for doing it
- A lack of structure in the activity or the way you approach it
- Fear-based resistance to the task
- A lack of intrinsic rewards
- A lack of meaning
- The task is too difficult
Once you know what the real reason behind your procrastination is, you can make appropriate changes.
Revisiting your bigger WHY or purpose behind a task is always a good idea. Why is the activity important to you, and how does it support your bigger goals?
Chunk it down
If a task seems too difficult or daunting, it helps to chunk it down. I sometimes use Francesco Cirillo’s Pomodoro Technique. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals that are 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks.
Because getting started is usually the hardest part, the Pomodoro Technique is great for tricking yourself into breaking ground on a task.
Use the 5 Second Rule
In Mel Robbins’s book, The 5 Second Rule, she explains how to use a countdown method to stop procrastinating.
When you want to do something, just count 5,4,3,2,1 and do it before your brain has time to talk you out of it. And that’s it. How she wrote an entire book to explain this method is a mystery to me, but it works!
Make it easier or don’t do it
Sometimes a task is just too difficult to commit to doing it consistently. For example, I have always had dreams of becoming a successful YouTuber with hundreds of thousands of subscribers. To do that you must post videos consistently, once a week at least.
Although my videos usually do well, for me the process of filming and editing videos is so difficult and overstimulating that I’ve never been able to do it consistently.
I had to come to accept that I need to either make my videos extremely simple (just me talking to the camera) or do a podcast instead.
And that’s exactly what I did! I started a comedy podcast called Michaela Up Close that I post on YouTube, as well as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.
I hope you found these tips helpful! If you’re an INFP who procrastinates, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please do share in the comments below.
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Safaaon July 6, 2020 at 12:11 pm
I’m an INFJ and don’t let the “J” fool you; I also struggle from procrastination. It’s so hard 😭😭😭.
I think my reason is that I don’t really trust myself and my abilities and that I can accomplish my dreams.
Donon July 6, 2020 at 12:27 pm
Sometimes, when I procrastinate, and act only when I feel ready, I proceed with confidence and quality and efficiency. Best of all, I remind myself to do whatever, my way.(Video) INFPs: How To Be Productive Without Selling Your Soul
Bruce Peterkinon July 6, 2020 at 1:47 pm
I identify as an INFP too, and I’ve just spent another day putting off an easy task! There’s a quote by Fritz Perls which goes (something like) “perfectionism is a defence against shame”… I see myself in that too.
It’s not easy, it is painful when “on paper” it seems we have talents, but in practice block ourselves from achieving.. just quit my best paid job ever, because the lack of meaning was a real grind. Did a 3-year degree course, and dropped out before cashing in, because no amount of willpower could get me to write up the last case study. That was a serious loss of time and money, but my mind has a mind of its own (which is the mind of stubborn donkey).
Willpower, guilt and going broke are not enough to make myself do something – doesn’t seem like there is a difference between “can’t” and “won’t”.
– I find always that talking it through with someone helps, to be able to say honestly what I’m avoiding and why, seems to break the cycle.
– Breaking tasks down.
– I once employed a friend to just sit in the same room while I wrote something, asking me what I was doing, and what the next paragraph was about.. it was worth the money!!
Andrewon September 2, 2020 at 7:02 pm
For me, INFP, procrastination can set in when I need to respond to people, via mail or sms. Especially I f I have waited a few days, I start to feel guilty about not responding and then it becomes worse. In the end, I can put off responding entirely, all the while feeling like a jerk and irrational. It can get really bad sometimes, where I have basically broken entirely with a person because I felt it was easier than responding. It’s really bizarre.
- (Video) Why Traditional Productivity Advice Gets INFPs Stuck Every Time
Wan Kimon January 29, 2022 at 6:38 am
Hi I am an INFP too, and I struggle a lot from procrastination 😭 I am supposed to do my homeworks and practice piano too, but today I’ve been in the dumps because I was being lectures by my parents on how I act and procrastinating on doing a simple task; paying my school fees. I told my parents that there’s still plenty of time to pay the school fees and my ESTJ/ISTJ dad was super unhappy about how I do things and procrastination. My mood had been destroyed since then and I am procrastinating because I don’t feel like doing my homework and practice piano, even though I am interested in music since I’m a music student. I hope I better at least do something today or else my workload will definitely pile up and it’s gonna be worse.
Istvánon May 1, 2022 at 7:21 am
Was very helpful ….of understanding why I procastrinate,
I am rather someone like the author of this article……it gets to a level way too often ,that is harming me and ones around me,
missing deadlines of all kinds,hoping for the luck that it can be done in a blink of the eye…..
I have to state that “luck” also came on my help,in risky situations
For instance, I had to send some docs in physical form/on paper/.
I came to the local Post Office on the following day that it should have been posted.
the lady at the desk looked at my terrified face,and after I explained the situation I was in,she came up with the solution ,that without the option “signed for”,she can set the timestamp a day ealier ,and she did …so I was able to post the docs within the deadline… a day later…timetravelling……….;)
..it is good that I found this blog,now I must go through it,seems worth
Luck is the INFP superpower 🙂
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