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Procrastination: An Equal Opportunity Trait

A key element of time management relates to procrastination—putting off until tomorrow the things you could do today. Everyone procrastinates. Sometimes we get the impression that it’s the Perceivers who are most guilty—with their laid-back, flexible approach to life and their tendency to be late for deadlines, etc. Not so. There are ways and times when all types put off tasks.

The Eight Types

Extraverts

Extraverts procrastinate when something needs to be done that requires privacy and time for reflection. An extraverted student may find it difficult to study a sociology assignment, which requires thoughtful perusal of the course text and time alone to study. They may also put off preparation of documents that require careful thought. They’d rather meet friends and postpone the assignment.

Introverts

Since Introverts dislike group activities—particularly speaking before a group—they’ll do what they can to get out of it or put it off to the last possible minute. This is true of participation in group activities, too. They favor the company of only one or two friends and are reluctant to sign up for groups.

Intuitives

Intuitives put off tasks that require their Sensing trait. Sitting down to collect data and then assembling it in a report is the last thing they want to do. Yearly taxes are a good example. Sensing types dig in long before April 15, almost with pleasure. Intuitives dread the day they have to unravel all their expenses of the previous year.

Sensors

When it’s time to think about the future, Sensors don’t indulge in fantasies about what “might be.” They are not at their best when it comes to long-term planning. They are here-and-now people. If a partner wants to reflect on all the possibilities for a winter vacation, the Sensor feels at a disadvantage. He or she would rather talk about their plans for the weekend.

Thinkers

Thinkers procrastinate when it comes to expressing themselves about personal issues. They’re slow to say, “I’m sorry,” even when they know they’ve hurt someone and are in the wrong. It’s much harder for a Thinker to say “I love you,” than it is for a Feeler. Many of them think that being “touchy-feely” is a sign of weakness, and that it’s better to be logical and neutral about everything.

Feelers

Feelers are reluctant to get engrossed in tasks where there’s no one else to talk to or get feedback from. They also dislike conflict and will avoid or postpone it whenever possible. They want to be involved with people in positive ways, where everyone ends up with good feelings. Negative confrontations are extremely distasteful to them.

Perceivers

When a deadline looms or a decision must be made, Perceivers put off final actions as long as possible. In their opinion, there’s always more information to be collected and examined. Perceivers are often tardy for appointments. They avoid being stressed by clock time. Their attention wanders to other things and, as a result, they’re late.

Judgers

When it comes time for fun and relaxation, Judgers procrastinate because they can always think of things that should be done before indulging in pleasure. Because Judgers may have an endless to-do list, many never get around to the reward of having fun alone or with others.

Solutions to Procrastination

Extraverts need to discipline themselves so they don’t routinely seek feedback about whatever has occurred to them. One way to do this is to schedule “work alone” periods, interspersed with scheduled breaks.

Introverts need to discipline themselves to do just the opposite—get outside their private sphere when it would be objectively useful. Even going to a public place like the library can be a challenge for the Introvert who prefers the solitude of his or her study.

Intuitives, with their future-oriented perspective, may come up short when it comes to estimating the amount of time needed to accomplish something in a given amount of time. If they are building a sandbox for a child’s birthday, for example, they may run into construction hang-ups that mean the job can’t be done on schedule. This needn’t be a cause for self-criticism. It’s simply one of those things that happen in life for no foreseeable reason.

Sensors need to see beyond clock time when they know that foresight or flexibility is needed. They tend to do well with minutes and seconds but fall short when a vision of the future is required. Sometimes they need to act when those around them affirm that the time is right, not when it’s on the Sensor’s schedule.

Thinkers have a tendency to set schedules or follow time lines that are compatible with their own needs, without considering the needs of others. Offending people is one problem with the Thinkers’ practice of basing decisions on objective outcomes rather than considering the impact on others.

Feelers must learn to say “no” without feeling guilty. They sometimes have trouble setting firm boundaries for themselves—instead focusing on the impact of their decisions on others. While Thinkers more readily impose themselves on others, Feelers more easily take on the responsibilities or consequences of decisions themselves, resulting in the feeling that they’re being taken advantage of.

Perceivers need to recognize their predisposition to procrastination, flitting from one project to another. Ironically, they often see this as a time-saving effort, juggling more than one project at a time. The result may be several projects left uncompleted. They would do better to limit themselves to one or two projects at a time.

Judgers naturally work well with schedules and deadlines. They risk reaching conclusions prematurely, however, resulting in a suboptimal outcome. They should be ready to listen to the ideas of their more-flexible counterparts, the Perceivers. When Judgers feel a strong need for a decision, such as buying a car, they’ll do well to listen to a Perceiver’s feedback about the details of the decision. They may uncover valuable information that they’d neglected.

Procrastination is an equal opportunity trait.

Are You a Sensor or an Intuitive?

More confusion probably exists regarding Sensors (S) and Intuitives (N) than any other type. Extraverts (E) and Introverts (I) are easy to tell apart. So are Thinkers (T) and Feelers (F). The labels themselves are giveaways. Perceiving (P) and Judging (J) require a bit of observation to figure out. Is the person usually late for deadlines and appointments? Does he or she avoid making final decisions on things as long as possible? That’s typical of a Perceiver. Judging types rarely miss deadlines and are seldom late for appointments. They verge on compulsive. They make decisions easily because they prefer closure to open-ended situations. You don’t have to know the Judger or Perceiver for long to figure out which type they are.  The Sensing and Intuitive types are more elusive.

Sensing Type

• Sensors prefer being involved in the here and now rather than thinking about what’s next. They would rather do things than think about them.

• They like tasks with tangible outcomes rather than vague promises. They’d rather pressure-wash the driveway themselves than look around for a budget-friendly handyman to do the job.

• They believe that “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” If the toaster isn’t working the way it used to, it’s better to improvise to get the desired outcome than take it apart or to an appliance repair person.

• Sensors prefer dealing with facts and figures, not abstract ideas and theories. They like to hear about things in a logical order, not randomly.

• They read magazines from front to back rather than diving into them anywhere.

• They dislike it when people give them vague instructions rather than stepwise details. “Here’s the overall plan. We’ll discuss the details later,” is the type of communication that frustrates them.

• Sensors are literal in their use of words. If they say, “Be careful. The coffee is boiling hot,” it probably is. The Intuitive might mean that the coffee is just uncomfortably warm.

• At work, Sensors focus on their own jobs and responsibilities rather than their importance to the overall organization.

Intuitive Type

• Intuitives can think about several things at the same time. They’re often accused of being absent-minded.

• They’re usually more concerned about where they’re headed than where they are. Future possibilities interest them more that present realities.

• Intuitives like to figure out how things work as much for the fun of it as anything else. Toaster broken? The Intuitive is right there to take it apart and fix it.

• They’re prone to making puns and playing word games. They enjoy language for its own sake.

• They’re good at seeing the interconnectedness between things. They don’t just want to know the facts. They want to know the meaning behind the facts. Reading the newspaper is an entirely different experience for the Intuitive and the Sensor.

• Intuitives tend to give general answers to questions rather than specific details. If the intuitive is asked how far it is to Jacksonville, he or she might answer, “about a 2-hour drive” when what the Sensor wants to hear is, “86 miles.”

• They’d rather fantasize about how they’re going to spend their next paycheck than sit down and balance their checkbook.

A Little of Both

If you’re like most people you’re neither 100 percent Sensing nor 100 percent Intuitive.  One trait will tend to be dominant, however. Myers and Briggs specified that the traits are “preferences” suggesting that it’s possible to modify them some of the time. This is particularly obvious in the Thinking and Feeling preferences. While the Thinker may be logical and dispassionate about decisions most of the time, he or she may  turn almost entirely to the Feeling preference if the family dog is injured. The Thinker will engage Feeling preferences for the occasion, putting everything aside, including finances, for the welfare of the pet.

It’s normal for the preferences to be modified according to different situations. In most social circumstances you might be an Extravert, but it’s natural that you should need some private time as an Introvert now and then. The balance between the two traits on each of the four pairs depends on a number of factors, but the overall tendencies are usually stable.

INFJ Meets Sensing Type—A Relationship Challenge

INFJs trying to live peacefully in this world face a major challenge in their relationships with the Myers-Briggs sensing type. Unlike INFJs, sensors are not intuitive (N). They’re puzzled by people who rely on hunches rather than hard facts to steer their way through life. Sensing types believe in concrete evidence. INFJs depend on insights. They just know. For this reason, the two types often find themselves at cross-purposes.

It isn’t so difficult for INFJs to relate to their opposites on the other three Myers-Briggs scales: extraversion/introversion, thinking/feeling, and perceiving/judging. Like INFJs, extraverts need some solitude, too. It’s just that they need much less. Thinkers may be mostly logical in their approach to life, but they’re not without feeling. Perceivers are capable of adopting some judging habits when it’s to their advantage. If they antagonize enough people with their tardiness, for example, they may cultivate the habit of punctuality.

Examples

The INFJ looking for a car with a sensing partner may dread the shopping experience. He or she is prepared for a long, tiresome search. Alone, many INFJs could purchase a car in a single morning. They’d do research online the day before, figure out what automobile would be the best buy, and then go out and look for a dealer that has one.

Not sensors. They want to collect lots of information and then go out and look at lots of cars. Even when their brains are full of specs and prices, it may be hard for them to choose. However, pressuring a sensing type into a hasty decision tends to come with consequences when he or she later ponders its wisdom. (“Are you sure the sticker said 27 mpg?” “Do you think we could have gotten a better interest rate?”)

Another problem is that INFJs lose things a lot. Unlike sensing types, they have more engaging things to think about. With their minds elsewhere while checking out at the supermarket, they leave their keys at the counter. When they reach the car, they panic. If they’d taken a sensing partner shopping with them, this probably wouldn’t have happened. The sensor would see the keys on the counter, pick them up, and roll his or her eyes.

INFJs and sensors also handle social situations differently. After a party, sensing types remember who was there and what they were wearing. These details go right past the INFJ. On the way home in the car, the sensor asks, “Did you notice Fred’s orange tie? It was horrible!” The INFJ has no memory of Fred’s tie. He or she says, “Do you think Fred’s having trouble at home? His wife wasn’t there and he seemed tense.” The sensor wonders how the partner could have jumped to that conclusion from across the room.

Earth to INFJ

Sensing types are earthbound. They’re systematic, follow instructions, and collect information before making big decisions. INFJs are creative and free-wheeling. INFJs with sensing partners are in for a rough ride if they don’t respect their personality differences. Neither type is being willful or obstinate. They are simply using their tried and true methods for viewing the world.