Introversion / Extroversion - What is it?

We’ve been looking at how your personality affects your studying

In this article, I want to talk about some traits, so we can get a little more specific about how our studies are affected. 

So, what IS introversion / extroversion?

(Spoiler alert: It has NOTHING to do with whether you’re ‘good with people’ or ‘shy’)

Think of your mental energy as a ‘battery’.

Some things you do during the day ‘drains’ that battery, and some things ‘recharge’ it. For different types of people, the things that cause the ‘drain’ and ‘recharge’ are different:

Introverts

Introverts 'recharge' in their own space and generally on their own. They feel like they need to be alone in order to gain energy. They can be GREAT with people, but being around people and large groups 'drain' their battery.

Extroverts

Extroverts 'recharge' with other people. They feel energised when they're around people. For them, being alone can be 'draining'. When they want to 'recharge', they'll look to spend time with people.

Both of them may be awesome with people..

but introverts will start feeling tired if they’re at a party too long. They may love interacting with people, but their ability to do so without feeling drained is shorter than an extrovert.

Keep the image of the mental energy ‘battery’ in your mind as you think about yourself and watch the video

Here’s a really quick quiz if you’re not sure where you are:

How does introversion / extroversion affect studying?

(The explanation I’m giving here is a teensy over-simplified. If you study more about this personality trait, there’s some more indepth discussions around how we see the world, but this explanation is just fine for these purposes)

Full Disclosure:

I am an introvert. Off-the-chart introvert!

I have a very limited amount of time I can be around people before I start feeling like I need to go somewhere quiet and be in my own space. I love people, I enjoy the interactions and I think I’m pretty good with people. I’m outgoing (and can be pretty loud!), so a lot of people find it tough to believe that I’m an introvert. 

Remember… it’s all about where your energy is ‘drained’ and ‘recharged’.

Why does this matter?

You need your mental energy for your studying. This means you want to be careful about where you’re ‘spending’ the energy you have every day.

If you’re aware of your introversion / extroversion, you can make better decisions about how to structure your time and studying to conserve energy, and work with your personality, rather than against it.

Studying for the Introvert

Your world takes place in your head. You prefer working at things on your own. People and groups can be very distracting and draining and unproductive for you. 

Study groups are probably not the greatest idea for you. Spending time with other students discussing challenges, content, past tests etc may be more draining for you. Teamwork will require a lot more mental energy for you, and will probably frustrate you.

Studying situations and environments where you’re around and interacting with other people are more likely to drain your energy.

The positive for you is that you will probably find that study sessions on your own are more productive and less draining. If you’re comfortable and ‘recharged’ in your own company, you’re not going to need others around you when you’re studying. 

This was definitely my experience. I could spend HOURS alone at my desk studying, but any type of group work or team projects would frustrate and drain me. 

Studying for the Extrovert

Your world takes place in the world outside your head, and people ‘fill’ your battery. 

You will probably struggle more with your mental energy when you’re studying alone. You may prefer to be part of a study group where you can discuss what you’re studying, tests, topics etc. You might prefer teamwork to working alone.

If you’re studying towards an accounting qualification, you’re going to need to spend more time on your own. Exams are individual, and so you need to learn the content and skills yourself. This may be part of your mental energy spend. If you’re an extrovert, your ‘alone’ studies might be draining you.

These are generalisations, so think about the situations you’re in and how your energy is being recharged or gained

How can you manage your energy better?

Introverts

A lot of your energy is often spent giving other people what you feel they need from you. Whether it’s a study group or class, or a fellow student who wants help from you, wants to study with you, your interactions and the time you spend with other people will drain your energy. 

Your best approach is to build boundaries and manage expectations with people around you.

You are absolutely entitled to look after yourself, and the best way to do this is to talk to people and let them know what’s ‘better for you’. This doesn’t mean you need to be rude or nasty. It could be as simple as “Guys, I really need to work on my own in my own space. I feel more productive on my own and I really need to focus on this”.

Creating and managing expectations is a great way to make sure that no one else walks away thinking you don’t like them, don’t want to be around them, and that everyone feels like they’re getting what they need. 

Extroverts

If you’re struggling to manage your energy with so much time on your own, you need to actively plan time and space in your schedule to be around people who recharge you. If you HAVE to study on your own, then make sure that you schedule ‘people time’ for yourself. 

You might feel that you can’t afford this time, but if you’re feeling drained and unhappy and it’s a long academic period, your frustration and emotions might make your studying less effective. 

"So Yvonne? How will this help me?"

Your studying requires a LOT of mental energy. Everything you do on a daily basis will 'drain' or 'recharge' that energy. (Eg: Sleeping will recharge your energy, tough lectures will drain your energy). There's a LOT of things that drain our energy. From work, to studying, to finances, families and friends, there are a lot of obligations we have in our lives.

The more you can be aware of what recharges and drains you on a daily basis, the more you can structure your life around what recharges you, and avoid what drains you, the more energy you have for your studying.

My experience with this?

I think most of the students I’ve worked with in the past are introverts. The Accounting profession seems to attract introverts more than extroverts. 

As an introvert myself, I think my biggest struggle was the feeling that there were people who ‘needed’ or wanted time and interaction from me and I felt an obligation to give them what they needed. From family and friends to fellow students, I generally felt like I needed to keep the people around me ‘happy’. 

It took a long time for me to feel that it was ok to stand up for what I needed. Especially since what I needed the most was to be left alone. I worried that people would get the wrong idea, feel that I didn’t like them or had a problem with them. So, I would keep quiet and do what I felt I should. 

My biggest ‘freeing’ skill was realising that I COULD build boundaries and let people know that I needed something different. This is often easier said than done, but it’s something we’re often not taught to do.

If you can relate, or have a query...

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Yvonne Starkey CA(SA)

Yvonne Starkey CA(SA)

I coach accounting students who are struggling with their study habits and mindset, and want their studies to be as effective as they used to be. See more on my about page

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