Me Time: Making Time for Yourself by Personality Type

The industrialized world has become increasingly aware of the importance of finding a work-life balance. In the past, industriousness and productivity were placed on the highest pedestal, leading to the phrase, “There’s plenty of time to rest when you’re dead.” While this aggressive approach to work may have served many people well in the past, many have also re-evaluated this mindset and found that productivity alone doesn’t necessarily bring fulfillment, happiness, or contentment.

In the search for a functional work-life balance, the health and wellness community has encouraged people to slow down and practice self-care. This can include anything from rising 15 minutes earlier in the morning to ditch the stressful “running-late” hustle, to setting aside time for mindfulness meditation, exercise, or an outdoor walk.

For some people, self-care is an automatic behavior – they intuitively recognize the need to take a little “time out” to unwind or re-energize. For others, the idea of taking time away from their work for self-care is a newer concept – they enjoy being “on the go” constantly. Still others may feel they can’t take time for themselves every day, even though they wish they could. Are these differences in self-care awareness something that we learn from others, or are they another product of our individual personality?

To find out which personalities are more likely to practice self-care regularly, we asked our community whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement, “You make time for yourself, even when you are very busy.” The Intuitive personality types – Analysts and Diplomats – agreed the most, supporting the idea that some people intuitively seem to know the importance of self-care.

When looking at individual aspects, Energy and Identity wielded the most influence over whether or not a person practices this sort of daily self-care. Intuitive personalities (77% agreement) were more likely to see the importance of making free time than Observant types (69%), and Assertive types (78%) agreed that they take more time out for themselves than Turbulent types (71%). The other traits had statistically minor effects, but let’s look at the Role groups to get a clearer perspective.

Roles

Analysts and Diplomats (78% and 76% agreeing)

Analysts and Diplomats reported similar levels of agreement, but the personality type to agree most with the statement was, unexpectedly, the Commander (ENTJ) (80% agreeing). A large part of Commanders’ confidence comes from their ability to retain control, but as highly intellectual beings, they often have many hobbies and interests beyond the professional realm. In order to meet the demands they place on themselves, people with this personality type need to be structured and routine-oriented. Within their busy agendas, they likely itemize “me time”, giving themselves time for the gym, social clubs, and side projects. The need for creative thinking space is common to all Analysts, and whether they schedule it or develop a lifestyle that is inherently less busy, they find a way to make time for themselves.

Diplomats understand the importance of self-care (though they may be more likely to give that advice than take it, needing a friendly reminder to take a break from their commitments for their own sake). Diplomat personality types learn best by understanding others, and seeing the toll an over-industrious life takes – in their friends, their families, and often enough, their customers and clients – motivates them to make time for themselves. Practicing regular self-care in demonstrable ways like exercising, meditation, or even dedicating time each day to reading a book can have a positive influence on others as well.

Protagonists (ENFJ) (78%) represent this group well. They excel at analyzing their own emotions and have a good sense of when they need to make time for themselves. No one is immune to burnout, though, so it’s important for these personality types to remember that taking care of themselves is important for them to have the energy to help others.

Explorers and Sentinels (both 69%)

The Observant personalities emphasized making time for themselves less than the Intuitive types. Explorers are endlessly spontaneous, and often consider boredom a worst-case scenario. They are easily caught up in the busyness of the day, and it’s likely that their flexibility is what helps them find time for themselves, leaving the employee break room to have a private lunch or staying up a little later to play a video game or catch up on an episode of their favorite show. Virtuosos’ (ISTP) higher-than-average score (73%) reflects more comfort with eschewing a social engagement to take time for themselves, which they likely spend on a home improvement project or a favored hobby.

Sentinels are more methodical. Although these personality types recognize the importance of taking time for themselves, they are not likely to enjoy idle time. Their “me time” is usually quite structured, even ritualistic, like watching their favorite sport in their favorite chair with their favorite drink, or looking after their house or garden for no other reason than that they enjoy it and take pride in the results.

Defenders (ISFJ), the personality type to agree least with the statement (66%), are quite sensitive to their obligations, even compared to their fellow Sentinels. They can’t stand the idea of disappointing someone they care about by turning down an invitation, whether a social outing, another responsibility at work, or a chance to volunteer. Most of their time to themselves likely comes from maintaining a low profile, accepting invitations as they come, but rarely seeking them out as a way to relax.

Strategies

Confident Individualism and People Mastery (79% and 77% agreeing)

Assertive Introverts and Extraverts prioritize self-care – they agreed the most with the statement “You make time for yourself, even when you are very busy.” Confident Individualists regularly take time for themselves, mostly because they don’t feel that pressing a need to be beholden to someone else’s expectations. If they need a break a work, they’ll take a break, and in their off time, they can be found reading, doing puzzles, playing online card games, working on a project, or taking their pet for a leisurely walk or play session.

People Masters have a different idea than most of what “me time” actually is, considering a night out with friends just as much relief as a good book. The important distinction in what counts as “time for yourself” is whether a given outing or activity feels like an obligation or a pleasure. For People Masters, naturally higher energy levels and lower sensitivity to stress mean that more things count as pleasures. Prioritizing their well-being has numerous benefits as well, boosting their confidence and honing their skills by spending time with the various personalities that are found in most large social circles.

Social Engagement and Constant Improvement (both 71%)

The Turbulent Strategies reported lower agreement (both 71%), but the number still suggests that a majority of people take time to themselves when they need it. Constant Improvers are highly sensitive to others’ expectations (and their own) – something that leads them to be very high achievers, but also makes them more vulnerable to stress and anxiety. Stress can be crippling for these types, easily leading to burnout, and some time alone can help them rebalance. Taking time for themselves, even when their schedule is busy, is important in order for these personality types to re-evaluate their goals and regain a healthy perspective of what is achievable and in their control.

Similarly, Social Engagers need to take some time for themselves, besides the social commitments they enjoy filling their schedules with. While they want to be in all places at once, it’s important for them to take time to unwind by themselves to avoid burnout.

Conclusions

From the responses to this statement, we can see that most people recognize the importance of self-care. Without taking care of oneself, it is difficult to take care of anyone else. Despite this understanding, though, many of us struggle with making ourselves a priority when our schedules seem endlessly busy[1].

Some personality types anticipate the busyness of their day and purposefully set aside time for themselves, while others may lack that luxury, instead taking a few minutes to unwind whenever they can find the opportunity. No one can deny, however, that any time one can find to dedicate to self-care is not only important, it’s precious.

Do you make it a priority to make time for yourself? How do you ensure that you get your “me time”? Leave us a comment and let us know!

You can see the full set of data, including correlation coefficients, in the Academy. Please also consider participating in our Member Surveys!

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