Many of us joked at the beginning of this pandemic that introverts would be better equipped to handle long periods of isolation. We’re all still inside reading, while our extrovert friends and family — plus all those manic folks we’re seeing on the news — are out cavorting as if the emergency is now over. If only.
I’ve been thinking that another factor influencing how crazy-making this is, is whether you generally prefer having structured or unstructured time.
Most people have a strong inclination towards one or the other. Put another way, do you tend to feel happier during the workweek, when you have a series of tasks that need to be done, colleagues with whom you interact, a feeling of achievement when you complete a project? Are schedules and routines useful rather than burdensome?
Or are you more of a “free spirit” who doesn’t like to follow a regimen? Are you happiest at the weekend with no particular agenda and the option to use your time as your own?
Being retired, I notice less of a difference than I did in my career life, but I clearly still fall into the “structured” category. For example, I’ve always liked to make lists and plan appointments ahead of time. Sundays and major holidays can be frustrating because certain things are closed and I can’t get stuff done. (Are structured people more prone to impatience, too, I wonder? Don’t answer that!)
Of course, Covid has tossed many options out the window. But knowing which type you are can help you deal with stress and uncertainty by adding more or less structure to your day. If you’re an “S”, try keeping a calendar of even the most banal activities so you can feel some sense of accomplishment as you tick them off your list. If you’re a “U” who hates following rules, enjoy the relative freedom of working from home and taking breaks when you feel like it.
I’ve read that S’s often instinctively pair up with U’s, which may be nature’s way of helping us find balance in a relationship: The “structured” person can do most of the planning and organizing, while their “unstructured” partner comes up with spur-of-the-moment fun stuff.
Is scheduled spontaneity the best of both worlds? Or merely another oxymoron in our current reopening-but-not reality?