energy, sustainable productivity, stress management, leadership, mindfulness, performance, health

Manage Your Energy, Keep Your Sanity

Time. We all have 24 hours of it in a day, yet we always seem to be strapped for it. We’re overscheduled. And when we free up one thing in our calendar, we replace it with something else.

We lead with “doing”. Always doing. Rarely just being. When we just “are”, many of us feel lazy, guilty or otherwise less worthy. It makes us feel less important. But “being” is very much a part of “doing”. Without taking time out for just “being”, our capacity for “doing” will plummet and we will end up exhausted or even sick.

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The Power of No

Carving out downtime in our hyper-accelerated society is more important than ever before. This means saying “no” to certain things and to certain people, and being ok with the consequences of the “no”. Often times we do not say no because of the “what if” scenario and possible FOMO (fear of missing out). What we fail to realize is that by saying “no” to others, we are actually saying “yes” to ourselves and our own need to recharge. This is a good thing. Prioritizing our need to recharge helps replenish our energy.

While this sounds simple in theory, those of us who are overachievers, people pleasers and perfectionists find it quite hard to implement. We want to do our best at everything and push ourselves too hard.

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The Energy Game

We play a dance of taking in energy and exuding energy all day long. When our energy reserves are up, we are on top of our game. When our energy reserves are down, we feel fatigued. Energy can come from physical, mental and emotional experiences. They can nourish us and they can drain us.

Next time you think about how to spend your day, think about it not so much in terms of managing your time but in terms of managing your energy. Create habits that will support your energy in healthy ways throughout the day. Here are 7 principles to get you started:

1. Live by your values

Grab a pen and write down the values that are important to you. Look at how you spend your days through this lens. Ask yourself if you’re creating the experiences, and enjoying the people and things that support your values. If the answer is no, find ways to align your actions to reflect your values.

2. Say “no”

When you feel you should say no, say it. Remember, by saying “no” to something, you’re saying “yes” to something else.

Make a list of your planned activities for the day. As you look at your list, think about the value each item brings to you and the estimated energy it takes to accomplish them. Use this information to prioritize your list and determine a realistic game plan. You may find that realistically you’re only able to complete 1 or 2 activities. Focus on the top of your list first, and take the pressure off yourself by acknowledging that some things further down the list may or may not get done during the day. And be ok with that.

3. Practice self awareness

Pay attention to how much energy you give to each of your commitments. The more aware you are of how you spend your energy, the more consciously you can manage it. When you learn your patterns, you can learn how to adjust your energy inflow and outflow so you don’t end up in an energy deficit. When we look at our energy balance carefully, many of us find that we tend to give way more energy to some things for little return. Remember this lesson for next time!

4. Avoid negative situations

Whenever you can, stay away from negative situations, people, objects and environments. These agents act as energy vampires that suck the light out of you.

5. Shake it off

If you’re unable to eliminate negative factors from your life, learn to accept them. As long as you’re exuding negative energy, such as fear, hatred, jealousy or envy towards these factors, you’re hurting your own energy.

6. Get enough rest

We need sleep and rest in general without the use of electronics to allow our brain to be quiet. As one of my professors jokingly put it: “the brain is the IRS of our body”, taking a lot of oxygen and, therefore, energy for its functioning. Read more about the benefits of sleep here.

7. Eat a nutritious lunch

It’s the most important meal of the day and many people skip it or eat it in a rush. Find out here why you should give it your full attention and what happens to your energy when you don’t.

We have 24 hours a day. That’s a fact we cannot change (unless somebody much smarter than me comes up with a new way to measure time). But what we can change is how we use our energy during those 24 hours. For optimum health and performance, it’s in our best interest to use it wisely.

Manage your energy, not your time. Click To Tweet

Image: Flavio Takemoto, freeimages.com 

 

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