Anti-Introvert Doesn't Know What to Do With Herself
June 24, 2010 3:40 AM   Subscribe

How can an extrovert keep their energy up when there aren't any people around?

I'm a serious extrovert: 24 out of 30 on the Myers-Briggs scale. Whenever I have too much time by myself (usually alone at home), I lose my energy and get-up-and-go and end up sitting around listlessly, not doing much and feeling kind of down. The easy fix is to get out and see people, but sometimes I need a solid day or two alone to get work done.

Does the hive mind have any suggestions about how to motivate myself without the human interaction that gets me going? Is there an easy substitute? Some tricks other than turning the lights on and the radio up?
posted by whitewall to Human Relations (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
How about schedule some calls in your day as your "breaks" from work? Make a list of things you would normally perhaps Google and pick someone on your contact list to talk to briefly about them instead.

Also, schedule lunch with someone or an after-work activity with a friend so that you have something to work towards. It makes the day go quicker!
posted by Hiker at 4:06 AM on June 24, 2010

I work from home, and while I'm not an extrovert by any means, I sometimes find myself listless and demotivated as you describe. What works for me is to have a scheduled break during the day, either to meet someone for lunch as Hiker suggested, or just to go out for a short activity, eg attend a lunchtime lecture at a museum. I find contact with ideas/ thoughts can snap me out of lethargy as quickly as human interaction, but as I said, I'm no extrovert.

But basically, I find short breaks from the environment of alone-ness, during the working day, are critical, the same way my eyes need occasional breaks from computer screens while I'm working. The important thing is to have the discipline to (a) take those breaks instead of sinking into gloom and (b) ending them on time so I can get work done.
posted by tavegyl at 4:30 AM on June 24, 2010

this is a very interesting question for me because I am the total opposite!

Does chatting online help? (if you need to be alone to do work, maybe you can chat online at the same time, at least for part of the time).

Or you can take breaks, go the store, make small talk with some people there. What about working in a coffeeshop? Even as an introvert I love working in coffeeshops just to be around people, but not neccessarily talk to them. I also find I can be quite productive there, but maybe that's because I'm not really tempted to talk to anyone. I like listening and watching people though!
posted by bearette at 4:30 AM on June 24, 2010

I should say, I am an opposite in that I am an introvert; however I too get a little lonely if I spend TOO much time by myself, so I think I understand.
posted by bearette at 4:32 AM on June 24, 2010

Psychologically speaking, your two best solutions are talking to characters on television (which seems to mimic bits of human social interaction, albeit imperfectly), or to construct a "cloth mother" that you can speak to and occasionally hug. Do not use wire in constructing the mother; that will be less satisfying to hug. In your position, I would combine the two, putting the television screen where the face of the mother would be; that way, you could talk with it at the same eye-level that you're used to for talking with other humans. As far as the body of the mother, terrycloth is the preferred fabric for monkeys, but I would also add a pair of inflated latex gloves to mimic human hands, in case you occasionally want to shake the hand of the mother, or hand it something you think it might be interested in.
posted by Greg Nog at 5:41 AM on June 24, 2010 [8 favorites]

Can you do the kind of work you do while listening to podcasts? I seriously question my sanity in regards to the level of connection I feel with these people who talk to me through my headphones. Maybe you can use the intimacy of radio to your benefit.
posted by edbles at 6:05 AM on June 24, 2010

Yeah, I was going to say television too. Something like a news channel, or maybe your area has a news radio station?

Look on iTunes for Steve Dahl podcasts. He has a style of broadcasting that to me, feels very personal, like he is talking directly to the listener.
posted by gjc at 7:00 AM on June 24, 2010

My solution to a lot of awkward loneliness situations is to get a dog. Some days I'll get my dogs all riled up with really enthusiastic stories about how we're going to clean the kitchen floor that day. And sometimes I serenade them with some improvised songs about putting the laundry away. When I know I have to do something I'll promise it to them and thats usually motivation enough to get me going.

Yes, I'm completely aware how crazy this makes me sound. But at least I'm not talking to myself...or a scary puppet.
posted by mrsshotglass at 7:23 AM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Can you organize a laptop date (a friend comes over with her laptop and you work on your own projects in the same room)? Or work in a cafe?
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:52 AM on June 24, 2010

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