Burnout in an “always-on” culture: how your MBTI personality type can prevent future stress

Articles Hero Image

Burnout in an “always-on” culture: how your MBTI personality type can prevent future stress

Posted 04 April 2023 by
Vanessa, MBTIonline Contributing Writer
No image available

5 min. read

How many times have you checked work email on your phone today?

And how many times have you stressed about a job-related task in the last week? Last month?

If you’re anything like me, you answered somewhere between 12 and 500 to both questions. Just kidding (…kind of).

The Myers-Briggs Company surveyed 1,116 people to ask about their personality type, work/life balance, technology habits, and more. The findings were published in a fascinating 40-page report, Type and Always-On Culture.

Sidenote: we use the term “always-on” to refer to the fact that most of us have the ability (and feel pressure) to respond to each other 24/7 because our phones are always on and with us.

Ironically, 65% of respondents said people shouldn’t have to check their email outside of working hours, but 52% said they often (or always) do check email in the evening anyway. You can watch the webinar to get more highlights from the report – including how the pandemic heightened the situation.

For now, let’s focus on what the data uncovered about how the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) personality type plays a role in helping individuals, managers, and teams manage stress and thrive in this kind of environment.

Work/Life balance looks different depending on personality type

If we segment the data into four main preference pairs, here’s how the people surveyed cope with and react to an always-on culture:

1. Extraversion vs. Introversion: How do you recharge your batteries?
The E-I preference pair is all about where we gain energy. So it’s important to protect your energy and create time/space to mentally switch off from work. Here’s some interesting data from the report:

TIP: If you prefer Extraversion, you might prefer to engage in activities with other people. Consider joining team sports, book clubs, or starting a regular game/trivia night to help take your mind off work.

If you prefer Introversion, you might prefer to have uninterrupted alone time. Recharge your batteries with solo activities like listening to podcasts, taking walks, or getting lost in a good book.

2. Sensing vs. Intuition: What overwhelms you? How do you bring yourself back into balance?
The S-N preference pair is all about how we gather information. Which is why it’s important to shield yourself from information overload – no easy feat when most of us have tiny computers tucked away in our pockets.

TIP: If you prefer Sensing, you may get caught up in minor details and become reactive to new information. To prevent overwhelm, try to focus on the big picture and prioritize what’s most important.

If you prefer Intuition, you may get stuck in a cycle of researching new possibilities/options until you’re overwhelmed with information. Instead, try to focus on doing (and finishing) one thing at a time.

3. Thinking vs. Feeling: How do your decisions affect you and others?
The T-F preference pair is all about how we make decisions. So, it’s important to form boundaries with yourself. Think about how often you answer emails or calls without consciously deciding to do so.

TIP: If you prefer Thinking, consider how your ability to be always-on could impact others. If sending emails after business hours works with your schedule or time zone, know others may feel pressure to respond right away. If you must send an email, make sure the recipient knows whether it’s urgent or not.

If you prefer Feeling, ask yourself if it’s really that critical for you to respond the moment you get a work email. I can’t tell you how many times I used to spiral because I foolishly decided to check email at 8:00 p.m. and felt obligated to respond.

4. Judging vs. Perceiving: Is your work/life balanced structured or flexible?
The J-P preference pair is all about whether we organize our life in a structured vs. flexible way. This is the part of our personality that’s the most indicative of work/life balance. Interestingly, the research didn’t find a difference in data about people who prefer Judging and people who prefer Perceiving. But there are still unique considerations for each.

TIP: If you prefer Judging, there’s a good chance you really appreciate separation between work and home. Try your best to set boundaries with yourself and others. This could mean setting your phone to “do not disturb” mode or letting your colleagues know you only plan to check email during certain time periods.

If you prefer Perceiving, you might actually like an always-on culture for the freedom and flexibility it offers. You probably love being able to work from home or when inspiration strikes. Consider that some people value structure over flexibility, and that their boundaries should be respected too. So if you’re working odd hours, don’t expect quick responses.

Always-On culture is (probably) here to stay, but you don't have to participate

It’s worth noting that the effectiveness of the individual coping strategies mentioned in the report depend on the individual, season of life, etc. Here’s a personal example:

As an INFP, my NP preferences mean I don’t mind the always-on culture because it affords me the privilege to take conference calls from the road or work from my phone. But if I’m being honest, I do sometimes resent my own nature to let work bleed into other things. I found myself checking email at my kids’ T-ball practice the other day just because I could.

I tell myself I’m less stressed when I can make sure my inbox is clear. But am I just appeasing my anxiety? Isn’t it more stressful to divide my attention between my Outlook app and my family?

Maybe “structured flexibility” is an option I could explore. As you can tell, I’m still learning the best ways to cope with an always-on culture. I think we all are.

I’d love for you to join me in learning to cultivate a healthier work/life balance. It’s difficult in an age of constant connection, but it’s worth it for our mental health.

Just remember: you can be great at your job and set boundaries.

In fact, the latter might improve the former.

First things first: take a deep breath. Then, take the MBTI assessment to start your self-awareness journey. We’re rooting for you.