How to manage your energy, not your time
Do you ever find yourself feeling exhausted when you wake up or maybe unable to completely focus during your workday?
Research shows that working long hours without taking breaks leaves us unendingly exhausted and unable to fully engage with our family and loved ones. As a result, this leaves us feeling unsatisfied and harms our wellbeing. In the workplace, most of us are responding to ongoing demands causing us to put in long hours. This inevitably takes a toll not only on us physically but mentally and emotionally as well. Studies show that this leads to declining engagement levels, higher levels of distraction, higher turnover rates within an organisation, and rising medical costs amongst employees.
The main issue with working longer hours is that time is a finite resource. Energy, however, is defined in physics as the capacity to work. Performance psychologist Jim Loehr and his colleagues have a solution; it’s called ‘Energy management’. According to Loehr, energy is drawn from four main areas; our body, our emotions, our mind and what he refers to as our spirit. Thankfully, for each of these areas, there are habits we are able to implement in our lives to increase our energy levels.
- Managing Our Physical Energy
It is well known that lacking nutrition, exercise, sleep and rest periods weakens people’s energy, as well as our ability to manage emotions and our attention span. To better manage our physical energy, focus on setting yourself an earlier bedtime, during sleep our body is working to support healthy brain function, maintaining our physical and emotional health. Sleep allows your brain to form new pathways for learning and remembering information, enhancing your learning and problem-solving skills. Take the time to exercise a few times a week, focusing on cardiovascular exercise three times and strength training once. Additionally, take regular breaks away from your desk to allow yourself to recharge.
- Managing Our Emotional Energy
Our emotions are affected when we overwork ourselves. Most people realize that they perform better when they are feeling positive. If we don’t take breaks, we are then incapable of positive emotions for long periods. Work demands and unexpected challenges push us towards feeling more negative emotions. To enhance your positive energy focus on (a) deep breathing, (b) take time to think about what you’re grateful for and express appreciation to others, (c) look at upsetting situations through new lenses. For example, ask yourself ‘what would the other person in this conflict say and how may his point of view be right?’, ‘how will I view this situation in six months or a year?’, ‘how can I learn and grow from this?’.
- Managing our Mental Energy
Multitasking harms our productivity as the shift in attention from one task to another increases the time necessary to complete the task by 25%. Over working and unnecessary multitasking has an effect on our mental energy. To improve your mental energy, take away distractions like your phone so you’re able to focus. Allocate times during the day to respond to voicemails and emails. Each evening, write down the most important task for the next day and focus on that first when you arrive at work.
- Managing our Spiritual Energy
People tap into energy of their spirit when their work and activities align with their values. This gives them a sense of meaning and purpose. If the work they’re doing truly matters to them, naturally they’ll feel more positive energy. To increase your spiritual energy, pay attention to what activities give you feelings of effectiveness and fulfillment. Find ways to do more of these. Allocate time and energy to what you consider most important. For example, if consideration is important to you, however, you find yourself constantly running late. Practice showing up five minutes early.
To learn how to identify your values, follow this link and complete the exercise.
These changes may not happen in a day. Take steps by introducing them into your day to day life. We often overwork ourselves and forget the importance of our mental health and wellbeing. Once you implement these changes it is proven that you’ll feel more positive energy and vitality as well as a improved overall wellbeing.
Take a moment to think about how you will implement these rituals into your life.
Loehr, J., Christensen, C., Goleman, D., & Drucker, P. (2010). HBR’s 10 Must Reads On Managing Yourself. Harvard Business Review Press.
Miller, W., Baca, J., Matthews, D., & Wilbourne, P. (2001). Personal Values Card Sort. Retrieved 16 June 2020, from http://www.motivationalinterviewing.org/sites/default/files/valuescardsort_0.pdf