Podcast – Episode 0296 – How Perceivers Struggle With Schedules

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In this episode, Joel and Antonia talk about the struggles Perceivers have with schedules.

In this podcast you’ll find:

  • Scrum Board
  • Schedule vs. rhythm
  • Judgers create the schedule first then the rhythm comes from the schedule
  • But for perceivers, we suspect the rhythm comes first, and the schedule evolves around it
  • Perceivers can get unrealistic about how much they can get done at any given time, so they struggle with sticking to a schedule.
  • They will abandon schedules because they never seem to work.
  • When you have an extraverted Judging function higher up in your stack, it is easier for you to keep track of what is happening over a long period of time.
  • EPs fixation is unfettered freedom, so schedules can feel like life has no color.
  • They may unconsciously sabotage a schedule to maintain their freedom.
  • Judgers put a schedule to paper, and it becomes their motivation.
  • To check it off the to-do list.
  • Perceivers hate To-Do lists.
  • Schedules facilitate you to do the things you want to do.
  • All of us have stuff we don’t want to do, but it’s the best way to get something done.
  • Perceivers – Make peace with your schedule.
  • Schedules don’t have to hurt.
  • Find what works for you and craft your schedule around it.
  • Schedules are a platform for opportunity.
  • When you are trying to figure something out, you aren’t sure which rules you can break.
  • So, Perceivers may often look more militant about maintaining schedules than Judgers because they don’t know how to adapt if something goes wrong with their schedule.
  • Perceivers can tend to forget what they accomplish, too.
  • Celebrate the things you accomplish.
  • Create anchor events for yourself that are non-negotiable then fit the other things around the anchor events. 
  • Anchor events may not happen until you find your rhythm.
  • Perceivers – Make peace with the schedule and go with the rhythms of your life.
  • Go to bed at a decent time, so you have more energy to accomplish things.
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Exercise
  • Eat nutritious food
  • Put your shoes on every day
  • Judgers need to make sure they don’t have too much energy sapping things in their schedule
  • When they were designing Disneyland, there was a patch of grass people kept cutting through, so Disney told them to pave it and create a path.
  • Judgers create this Stay off the Grass situation and force themselves into a schedule that isn’t energy efficient.
  • Judgers – make sure you aren’t wasting time and effort by shoe-horning yourself into a schedule that is too arduous.

In this episode Joel and Antonia talk about the struggles Perceivers have with schedules.

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Showing 24 comments
  • Jen
    Reply

    Part of the stuggle I have as a P is not having a good gauge of how long things will take. I head up a department and have to provide input to the larger team on overall timing. I’m feel like, “How do I know how long it will take, I’m not a psychic!” I do my best but always feel like there’s a huge clock ticking at me.

    I love the idea of defining anchor events and making sure to carve out time for creativity. That’s definitely something I’ve been lacking.

  • Kenna
    Reply

    I’m an INFP, and I resonate completely with the struggles you describe here. My desire to accomplish something important is always in conflict with my need to have freedom so I can be spontaneous. And if nothing spontaneous happens, it frustrates my yearning to accomplish.

  • Drew
    Reply

    It looks like I’m not at all the only INFJ who resonated with some of the “perceiver struggles” outlined in this episode! I had a hell of a time actually settling on INFJ as my type because I thought there was absolutely no way a judger would have such a hard time getting her sh*t together.

    Of course a huge factor for me is that I have very severe clinical ADHD that went undiagnosed until about four years ago, when I was 20. That in conjunction with this episode brought up a thought that I have approximately zero evidence to back up: I wonder if perceivers and judgers have very different ways in which their learning “disabilities” present themselves. Until very recently doctors differentiated between Attention Deficit Disorder with and without hyperactivity. I would bet that the more stereotypical “disruptive ADHD kid” would more often be a perceiver, while the people with ADHD who simply can’t get it together and “fly under the radar” would be judgers. It would make a lot of sense to me, since perceivers gather information from their surroundings, while judgers use slower, post-processing methods to learn.

    • Luke
      Reply

      Drew,

      You theory sounds like a good one. I can see that trend possibly being true. I wonder if introverts are more likely to go under the radar and not look hyperactive compared to an extroverted kid with ADHD? There might be a pattern there for E’s trending toward ADHD with predominantly hyperactivity and I’s with ADHD with predominantly inattentive.

  • Fleur
    Reply

    This concept of “the rhythm creates the schedule” is new to me. It relates to the idea of chronotypes, which I recently learned about. Chronotypes come down to energy management. Basically there is a spectrum that has on both extremes larks (people who work best early in the morning) and owls (people who work best late in the evening). 14% of people are pure owls, 14% pure larks, and the other 65% are between the two (these figures come from the book “When” by Daniel Pink). The world around us is more adapted to larks.

    By figuring out when you perform the best on certain kinds of tasks, you can modify your schedule as much as possible to optimise the energy peaks. If you can’t modify it that much, taking frequent breaks when you have low energy makes a big difference. It helped me concentrate better when I had a job and every day between 2 and 5 pm I had an attack of exhaustion.

  • Amy
    Reply

    ENFP – loved this podcast. You know what I’m desperate for? A similar podcast on the to-do list. Not unlike a schedule, it’s a tool that I know can work in my life. (And in fact the interaction between to-do list and rhythm/schedule is a super-sophisticated aspiration). But man,it’s a constant source of stress and starting over and sometimes meticulously maintaining the to do list (so much time maintaining it and making it colorful and awesome that I don’t actually do the shit that’s on it) — or I just make it and then disregard & fly by the seat of my pants for weeks. Some part of the brain dump is really useful. But then getting from 10,000 things on it down to the 5 or 6 that I might actually do in a day is a total mystery. I do like to cross things off and I will certainly add the stuff I just did to the list just so I can cross it off — but I’m looking for better than that.

    Have a too-flexible, slightly-isolated, extremely-busy job that I care bunches about — plus life, household, kid, creative practice, friends & chosen family — and everything is literally in entropy, falling apart. Not sure if it’s the perceiverness or being a judger based on feeling or the combo that makes it insanity. But any tips on sticking with a simple approach and handling the shit in my life in a way that makes priority sense — man, I would be so grateful.

  • Gaspard De Valera
    Reply

    As an INFP, I’m struggling with schedules, and of course it’s very hard to me to be micromanaged at work, but since we set up some rituals (not rules !!!!) at home with my adorable INFJ girlfriend I can breath really intensely and I feel better as ever, and I’m writing again after two terrible years.

    After experimenting rituals during several months, I see how more creative I’m because those rituals respect and protect my needs, especially unstructured time without pressure. To me, rituals are now a safe place protected from horrors, in order to not let anymore horrors take the all space during hard times. They can of course be espressed, but never during rituals !

    It should be seen as a paradox, but I think it’s absolutely not the case, I feel much less pressure thank to rituals. .

  • Kristin C.
    Reply

    I’m a freshly diagnosed INFJ, and I very much agree with the other INJs that resonated with this podcast as fellow intuition/perceiving-dominants. Left to my own devices, I just go into my own mind and don’t get anything done! I also sympathize with the night owl tendencies.

    I kind of figured out the anchor points technique on my own, without having a name for what I was doing–in college and grad school, classes were my anchor points; and outside of school, scheduled caretaking duties filled the same function. During and after my school years, I also had part-time secondary jobs that I specifically chose because they were flexible enough to slot in wherever I had free time. As Ty pointed out above, it’s easier for an INFJ to schedule time for the needs and expectations of others, but our personal time tends to get eaten up by other people unexpectedly needing something or by Perspectives demanding some quality time.

    Since scheduling is usually addressed in Effectiveness language–breaking down projects into steps, management of time and energy resources, checking off tasks, getting lots of things done with as little wasted time as possible–I was hoping Antonia would have some suggestions for leveraging the Harmony-Accuracy polarity to get one’s life organized, but it sounds like that’s something she struggles with too. I ended up ruminating on the question while walking the dog, and I think the key might be reframing tasks in terms of “what needs must be taken care of or tended to” and “what has to be categorized/sorted” (thank you, Perspectives-Sensation polarity!). I’m fairly comfortable with categorizing since I’ve been in a Perspectives-Accuracy loop for a long time, but as Harmony is my extroverted judging function and my copilot, I’ll probably get the most done by fitting the majority of tasks under that umbrella. For instance, going for more frequent walks is a health need for both the dog and myself; household chores and yard work can be thought of as tending to my home (though I fear anthropomizing my house could lead to crazy old lady syndrome :} ), not to mention making my home comfortable and hospitable to others; and setting aside dedicated Perspectives time would be tending to myself so I’m not too exhausted to deal with the external world.

    Now I’m envisioning some kind of kanban-calendar combo (what would that be, a “flex calendar”?) where I can keep track of my anchor points and all the other needs that should be addressed around those time slots. If I lean on Accuracy to color code different categories of needs–such as personal needs, family needs, pet needs, health needs, creative needs, financial needs, etc.–I’d also have an easy way to visualize which need categories might be getting too much or too little attention. I’m actually a little excited about trying this–it speaks to me more than traditional, Effectiveness-based concepts of organization ever have. I just hope that using the term “need” doesn’t qualify as creating fires to put out!

    Anyone else have tips or ideas for using Harmony to get organized?

  • Peg
    Reply

    This was great. As an ENFP my goal in life was always to have no schedule. Nobody telling me when to do what. Then last year I lost my corporate job. I really didn’t want to set myself any schedule, but even if I did, I never liked anything I came up with. And ESTP friend of mine gave me some suggestions but I couldn’t even stick with that.

    I really hear Antonia, too, when she says if you don’t stick to a schedule it’s gone. I used to drink water so that I was counting every ounce I drank. And I was pretty rigid about my meditation schedule. Then my teacher/coach said I was being too rigid with parts of my life. Well, guess what? I probably never drink quite enough water. And even though I do other energy, relaxation methods, my main meditation is never on a regular basis anymore. LOL

    Thanks so much for this one, guys. I love all of your stuff but this one really resonated. I have some things I’ve been studying and working on for years but now I need to take the first step to starting my own business. You guys give great encouragement.

  • Lisa
    Reply

    Antonia (and other female perceivers), I highly recommend you check out the book Period Power by Maisie Hill. It’s been a real paradigm shifter in regards to both my health and the way I approach creating structure and schedules in my life.

    As an INFP, in the past I’ve always seesawed between two extremes: either feeling totally suffocated when external sources like school or work enforced a rigid schedule on me, or when I’ve had the freedom to create my own schedule, I end up not being able to stick to it and feel guilty and useless and frustrated.

    Before I read this book, when I created schedules for myself, I did so in a very linear, archetypically masculine way. I worked from the assumption that I would be pretty much the same every day, so in my mind every day should be equally “productive”. When I ended up not being able to accomplish the tasks on my to do list, I’d throw the baby out with the bathwater and give up entirely.

    Then I started charting my menstrual cycle (writing down a bunch of metrics every day, from my mood to my sleep to how my skin looked to what my digestion was like, etc). After a couple of months, it became obvious that my moods and energy levels were hilariously predictable based on when different hormones were either building up or plummeting, down to the day.

    I then started creating a loose new schedule based on what I’d found. There are parts of my cycle where I feel excited, full of new ideas, and much more social than I usually do. I’ve been trying to use those times to dive into new creative projects, to start new eating habits, and to try to exercise my Ne co-pilot and have new adventures in the outside world.

    There are times when I want to withdraw, when I become a lot more energetically sensitive, when the company of others feels irritating. I use those times to dive into all my introverted feeling fun-time activities—journaling, studying various psychological and mystical systems, etc.

    There are time periods when I’m just downright exhausted, and during those I try to let my introverted sensing take charge by resting, nourishing my body, and indulging in comforts like watching an old movie or reading a novel.

    Approaching my schedule this way has gone a long way to remove the near-constant cloud of guilt that looms over my head, telling me I’m not doing enough. I think even for those Perceivers who don’t menstruate and therefore don’t experience these hormone shifts throughout every month, setting a schedule based on your own cyclical rhythms rather than on an arbitrary linear structure could be really healing.

    Which is exactly what you were talking about on the podcast, Joel and Antonia! I just wanted to add the lens of female health into the mix.

    • Antonia Dodge
      Reply

      Fascinating concept – thanks for the book recommendation!

      -A-

    • Stephanie Knol
      Reply

      Wow! What a brilliant idea! As an INFP I completely identify with what you are saying. I’m going to check out the book and try a new way of going with the “flow”. (Sorry, couldn’t resist).

    • G
      Reply

      You’ve just described PMDD; might be worth it to look into it?

      I’m an INFP also and have been diagnosed for it. So my moods shift with my hormones.

      • Lisa
        Reply

        Yes, I imagine I probably would be diagnosed with it too! Changes to my diet and sleep hygiene have helped a lot but I will continue to look into various medical interventions to see what else I can do to support my hormonal shifts. Just understanding it better, and not beating myself up for the times when my energy/mood dips, has made a big difference in how I experience it.

  • A
    Reply

    I’m an INTJ and have always struggled mightily with schedules and being on time. It drives my ISTJ husband insane because he loves to stick to a schedule and is very good at it. I love the idea of schedules in theory, but in reality they feel like shackles because they force me to cut off Ni and focus on the real world. We’ll make great plans together, but then I tend to go off the rails and am unpredictable with how long it will take me to complete a task because my mind is wandering at the same time. I know I need to lean more into Te and am pretty good at getting stuff done when I’m in the right headspace. But when I’m not, I identify strongly with the struggle you described in this episode. I find that scheduling regular “Ni time” into my day helps me avoid going rogue on the rest of the day’s schedule.

    • Tracey
      Reply

      I’m an intj and my ‘schedule’ is simply a routine of what works best for my own rythyms – at a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly level.

      From the outside it might look disciplined, but it’s just about knowing myself, recognising my patterns and limitations, and optimising.

      Trying to do things that don’t respect my rythyms drains my energy almost completely. It’s not at all sustainable.

  • Jen
    Reply

    Hey, in the middle of this one, and feeling like the works judger ever. Lol. INFJ but married to ENTP, and I’m definitely the “task master, list maker” of the family.. But I’m also a stay at home mom… And can completely relate to the prison of freedom of time. I’ve endeavoured in sooo many ways so many times to create my own schedule… And it literally never works. I LOVE this idea of rhythm instead of constantly failing at scheduling… Because I don’t hate the idea of a schedule at all – unlike my Ne husband who loathes being over scheduled. I see the utility of it for myself and know I can be better and accomplish more with a schedule or routine. Thanks for the inspiration for a rhythm rather than a formulaic “should” schedule – though I am technically a J… My driver being a perceiving definitely seems to throw a wrench in it for me!

  • Megan
    Reply

    Hey Antonia and Joel,
    I enjoyed this episode! I’m an INFJ who just quit my full-time job to go into business with an INTP who founded a small startup. He has struggled to establish a routine in his business and was specifically looking for a J type to help with this. I think you were spot on when you said that Js can be more flexible with schedules, though. I thought it was funny because before we started he suggested we map out how much time each day we would spend on certain tasks. It seemed super unnecessary to me to establish such a strict schedule. His fear was that if we didn’t have that, though, nothing would get done. Instead, I mapped out a broader weekly schedule and assured him that all would get accomplished, I just didn’t need such a strict schedule.

    I think being a perceiving dominant type, I’m probably able to be more flexible than EJs or even ITJs since I don’t value Te. I do struggle with routine when other people aren’t helping me stay accountable, but I’m fairly good at naturally prioritizing my time and getting things done that need to get done, even if it’s not at an exact time that I planned to do it.

    For example, I have a morning routine where I make the bed, stretch, meditate, have a cup of coffee, take out the dogs, then work out. Things typically happen in that order, but if they don’t, it’s not the end of the world. If I wake up late, I try to do as much of the routine as I can before I start the day and don’t stress too much if I miss something.

    Great insights as always! Good luck with the scrum board, I use an online version of that for work, and it works really well. I guess Te is sometimes good for something, haha.

  • Riki
    Reply

    Hi , I’m intp mom of two, i resonate with all said , and the anker points really work for me, although I still struggle so bad with being up at night I just love that peace and silence too much to give it up and I tend to go to bed after 1,2 .But I do have to getup for my kids at 8 to get them to school so that keeps me from sleeping till who know when. And I know once their home I gotta stop doing whatever work I’m doing . I do officially nap during the day. But I feel like if I’d go to bed earlier like 11 I’d be more productive and rested so I’m really in conflict .
    also I like to have a cleaning help, someone comes over twice a week which also works like a anker point and sets the day schedule.weekends when there’s no school we go out together and that’s official family time we go visit family and friends.. otherwise I’d probably rarely just hang out with family but if the kids have no school and keep interrupting me I might as well go out with them. But when my kids grow up and get out of the house I will probably need to readjust it all to not go insane. Being in school as a kid felt like the worst jail ever I’m so grateful everyday not to be there anymore. Anyway Thanks so much Joel and antonia for ur podcasts their amazing, I listen to them while doing boring housework it keeps me going.
    (I always wished to have a entp female friend so I love listening to entps talk:) ) I haven’t met any NT females in real life which makes me feel very lonely .

  • Angela Schenk
    Reply

    Hi PH family!

    I really enjoyed this podcast, but if I may, I’d like to push back a little bit.

    Let me preface this by saying I realize I might be an outlier and this is an anecdotal observation so take that for what it’s worth. However, I resonated so deeply with this content as an INFJ who left the 8-5 world to launch a business in February of this year that I’m speculating it applies more to those who lead with a perceiving function (probably even more so if it’s an intuitive function) than those who are perceivers overall. My Ni does not like to be bound by a schedule on bit. Conversely, my Mom, who’s and INFP is great at sticking to a schedule. My former colleague is and ENTJ lives by his iPhone calendar. Both of them lead with Judging and are continually baffled that even though I’m a big achiever, those achievements happens in sprints like you mentioned at the beginning of the podcast. My ENTP sister has similar issues with schedules—though they are so beneficial to her frenetic energy.

    Anyway, just some food for thought as I resonated so deeply with what was being said that I had one of those “Joel and Antonia are in my head again” moments and felt the need to rush over here and state my case for perceiving-dominant types.

    Thanks as always for the great content!

    • Ty
      Reply

      Seconding this as an INFJ who related to almost all of the struggles discussed.

      I love yoga and ideally I would like to go at least twice a week. However I hate the idea of committing to a strict schedule of going every Monday/Wednesday. I don’t have the “Perceiver” thing of “Oh no I don’t want to make a choice of how to spend my time.” If my options are simply “You’re alone- what do you want to do in this moment?” I pretty much know exactly what I want to do. But I have the Fe pull of “Oh no what if someone I love wants to do something one Monday in the future and I’ve created this rigid routine and miss the chance to connect with them?”

      I have a lot of Perceivers in my life so all plans tend to be last minute. If I had it exactly my way I’d probably make plans ahead of time with each person I wanted to see that week and write it all out on a calendar. But my Perceivers (I know from experience) hate when I do this too often. So Fe tries to keep my personal schedule as flexible and open as possible to accommodate their desire to do things spontaneously.

      INFJ/Fe User Tip #1: The thing I’ve found that works around this is slating my “me time” for the hours of the day when generally nobody ever wants or needs anything from me. That’s early morning for me and so anything that’s very important for me personally to get done, I try to slate it for that time and generally following through on it is not difficult for me.

      I do “get a lot done”, but that’s partly because I have leaned into my other extroverted function (Se) and developed the mentality of “Do it right now or you’ll forget/’One day’ will never come.” I’m not good at all at what I consider “actual” or skillful time management. I get immersed in things and constantly lose track. Fe means that I’m highly motivated in fulfilling my obligations to others, but I generally do this in a very “Se” three year old way which is to just do those things as they come up, and keep hammering away at them until they’re done. It doesn’t help me achieve my own goals at all, and likely it is actually the thing that interrupts my personal goal achievement the most. Thus, I have to re-orient myself on a frequent basis.

      Imagine if you had Ni-Ti constantly drawing up the perfect trip itinerary, but only Fe-Se is allowed to drive the car….. And it’s all like “OH HEY RANDOM PERSON ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD- What’s that? You need to go to Chicago? I mean I’m headed towards Florida, but I REALLY LIKE YOU SO YEAH LET’S DO IT!!!”

      ….

      It’s a freaking nightmare.

      I think the biggest difference I notice between myself and my beloved perceivers is that the desire to course correct and point myself back in the “right” direction comes up often and naturally for me, whereas my INTP boyfriend can happily live in a tornado of chaos and mostly finds the challenges it presents interesting and rewarding. Perceivers are definitely more like “The journey is it’s own reward” whereas I am ALL ABOUT plotting out my next destination and then getting there. When my car gets hi-jacked for too long I start to feel like I will never get “there” and then I feel sad and useless.

      INFJ/Fe User Tip #2: The way I balance my weak time management skills with my desire to constantly be moving in some direction is to work off bigger time chunks and to “externalize” my goals. I make myself a weekly to-do list as opposed to a daily to-do list that I put on my fridge. So every Sunday I make my list of things that I want to get done that week but that I know I’ll want to put off or won’t be motivated to do because they aren’t for someone else. So I’ll put “Yoga x 2”, “Make an appointment with the dentist”, “Run x 4” etc. on the list and then I have the entire week to check it off. The list almost “externalizes” the expectations of myself and makes them as though they are the expectations of someone else. So having it there in front of me all the time motivates me to actually do it as opposed to just daydreaming about it or completely spacing out on it.

      • Jen
        Reply

        Hey I relate to basically everything you said here!!! Lol. Day to day time management sucks… And weekly lists and goals DO help! I’ve actually started a productivity planner… Which is nice for not getting me too off track as my goals can change hour to hour… Good ol Fe! Lol. And prioritizing myself and my *own goals, health etc?! Not a chance. Weekly Pilates has been good, because, as said above, holding to commitments to others is much more available to me than committing to myself.
        Anyway thanks for the insights and tips! Nice to feel community in our strengths and struggles.

    • Megan
      Reply

      Hey Angela, I just saw your comment after leaving my own. I’m in a similar situation and also an INFJ, and I agree I related to several of the more perceiver tendencies mentioned in the podcast. I think it’s because we are perceiving dominant types, and probably also because we’re intuitive dominant types. I feel like I’m good at prioritizing my time, but don’t necessarily need a strict schedule (I actually hate the idea of being too strict with my time).

  • Sarah
    Reply

    Wow! LOVED the podcast! Fellow ENFP here who has major difficulties with time management and had NO idea how classic my issues are for other ENFP’s! Thank you so much for helping me understand the root of my disconnect with time and my resentment for schedules. I’m 43 years old and have beat myself up over this for years, “Seriously, why can’t I get my act together?!”! I have 5 kids – all in school now and I thought I would finally be able to live by a set schedule but I find myself in a slump. The constant interruptions when I finally get into a flow have discouraged me so much that I don’t want to start any projects and would almost rather sit and wait for the next interruption than to look at a another 1/2 finished project. My biggest problem though is not wanting to go to bed at night – like you said, my freedom is my ultimate desire and 11pm is when that starts. Please tell me how to change my mindset and go to bed earlier – I can have some “freedom” from 9 to 11 when they are at school but it doesn’t feel the same as 11 pm! Any suggestions on how to change this bad habit and how long did it take you to fully overcome those super late nights?

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