Random Thoughts

On Being Productive (J on the Myers-Briggs)

One more frightening glimpse into my neurosis.

I hate to take naps. Hate it. I almost always feel worse afterward (specifically it feels like my teeth are loose, PLEASE comment if you’ve ever had that feeling), and my body just doesn’t like sleeping for a very short period of time. However, more than anything, the reason I can’t take naps is because I feel like I’m wasting time. I wake up and think “That’s 45 minutes I could have been doing something productive.”

Since I’ve already covered my extroverted tendencies, I figured I may as well cover another letter from the Myers-Briggs test, this one being the ‘j.’ (By the way, I think the Myers-Briggs test is not so much a way to learn about yourself, so much as learn how messed up you are) The last test on the Myers-Briggs test is to see whether you Judge or Perceive. Judging generally means that you like to be organized and like to have a plan, and perceiving generally means you like to be a little more spontaneous. I am a big time J, and it seems to get worse everyday. My palm pilot to-do list gets more and more ridiculous as time goes by (I haven’t gotten to the “eat an apple” stage yet, but I’m looking forward to that), and fewer things make me feel better than checking things off that list and watching them disappear. If I do something that’s not on my palm pilot (like this blog post, for example) and therefore I can’t check off, it doesn’t feel nearly as good to do it.

This can be a wonderful instinct, because I generally get a lot of things done. And if you need something from me, or you’re working with me for something, you can pretty much rely on the fact that I will finish whatever it is, and I will get back to you (no matter how minor it may seem). I’ve worked with people who never get back to you, and never quite finish things they said they would. That bugs the hell out of me.

However, it can also be awful, because it is nearly impossible for me to relax. When I try to, my brain starts saying “You’re supposed to be doing something else. What did you need to get done? There was something else you were supposed to get done.” I’m also very good at multi-tasking, so if I’m doing something like watching a movie, I start thinking “what else can I be doing while I’m watching this.” I have to be as productive as possible (even if that productivity means playing a video game or reading a book, two more things I can check off a list). And the worst is if I waste too much time, I start naturally thinking “You’re such an idiot for not finishing that. Why did you waste all that time watching that movie/sleeping/daydreaming of that girl at the coffeshop/drinking yourself into a blissful numb paradise? Why haven’t you posted anything on your website in over a week!! Get on it!” It is SO HARD to turn off that voice. I will even some days say to myself over and over “there is nothing I need to get done today, I’m just going to relax,” and I fight that instinct. Sometimes it works and that feels amazing, as of late it has rarely worked. I’ve even had the thought “I can’t date, I’ve got too much stuff to get done.” So you can at least take comfort that if you’ve been wanting me to post something, I have at least felt bad about not posting.

So I’m left with wondering is there something I can do about this? Do I plan to be spontaneous? Maybe have a spontaneous day? I’ll have that right after irony night/day. Or do I just learn how to adapt to that instinct and harness it? (with our powers combined…) One thing I’ve tried to do is make sure to get some stuff done so that that voice turns off, and then I “allow” myself to relax. That has worked pretty well. Working out and eating well has helped too, as well as always keeping my palm pilot up to date.

But really what this all boils down to is how much control I like to keep over my life, and how difficult it is for me to relinquish that. Do I control my life or do I let it go? I think I will be forever exhausted if I continue to white knuckle the control over my life, and nothing short of daily surrender will ever change that.

6 thoughts on “On Being Productive (J on the Myers-Briggs)”

  1. Thanks for making me feel a little more normal, Morgan.

    I like your “powers combined” idea. Eventually, either your neuroses serve you or you serve them. And your last paragraph is brilliant, too. I think part of the “J”-ness is just that–a need for control. If we J-types surrender that need every day to the only one who has absolute control (namely, God), we see ourselves–and our lists–in the proper perspective. Maybe what I’m saying is, we don’t have to give up the lists, but we have to give up the white-knuckling *reason* for the lists or we WILL drive ourselves past exhaustion. (I’ve gone over the Control Cliff myself before, so I speak from experience on that.)

  2. I have those tendencies too, and some days I wish I had them more (then I’d stop putting off stuff I know needs to get done). I also think it’s important to spend time not accomplishing anything and focusing on relationships or rest or both. Having mono helped me get better at that one. I also think that’s why the practice of sabbath keeping, even if it’s not a whole day, is useful. If there is a time that you aren’t allowed to be productive, it gets you in the habit of letting go once in a while.

  3. Bethany that’s a good call. Maybe I should pick a day to be my “sabbath” where I purposely get nothing done. (Sunday’s a tough one, because I actually have to work, however during football season, it’s really easy not to get anything done on Sundays)

    And Suzanne, yep, yep, yep.

  4. Being one of the P’s out there, i have always gone through life taking naps (and,oddly enough, during my days of orthodonture, having terrible dreams about my teeth falling out, waking up in my dream with loose teeth, and finaly really waking up with a sigh of relief). And I usually felt preety good about it. But since I have come to college and met all these over-achieving, J-type people, who study fro 5 hours and then complain about their A-, I have started to “judge” myself based on productivity etc. And now I always have a to-do list in some notebook at all times.
    I guess I sort of envy Js’ natural prioritization of productivity.

  5. I TOTALLY know what you mean about the loose teeth feeling, and I also HATE HATE HATE to take naps!!!! I can’t believe some people think they’re refreshing!

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