Manage your energy
Posted by Meg Bear on June 6, 2009
I used to think that I was the only one that had large swings in energy, but lately I have come to realize that this is just one of those things that we don’t want to share, so we might think it’s unique to us.
The reality, for me, is that I have pretty wild swings in energy (and thus productivity). It’s incredibly frustrating to me to have days of low energy, since on those days everything is hard.
On low energy days, often I can’t even muster up the will to work on anything even moderately difficult. I begin to procrastinate, since everything is too hard to start. If I stack up too many low energy days, complex tasks take a very long time, and my quality and quantity of output suffers.
Conversely, on high energy days everything is easy. I get huge amounts of work done, I am proud of what I did (and often those accomplishments give me more energy so everything goes great).
Lately I’ve been observing myself more closely, attempting to find out both what things give me energy and if I can will myself to have more of it.
While I can’t say I’ve perfected this, at any level, I have started to make some progress in actively discovering what gives me energy. I’ve started to predict when I will have high energy. I’m attempting to adjust my work, to better align with my energy flow.
I have always done this to some extent, but I’ve decided it’s time to be purposeful about the management of my energy.
I have given myself permission to do things that might appear less critical to my work, if it gives me energy. I have adjusted the things I work on during my high energy times of the day and week. I have saved administrative (and mindless) tasks for my low energy times.
I am learning that building energy is something I need to perfect. My job is not going to get smaller, I need to get bigger. I do not intend to grow my capacity by putting in more time, I intend to grow my capacity by getting better. Better at channeling my energy, better and creating energy and more efficient on how I use my high-value time.
I have noticed a real difference already, and I’m liking the results. Turns out, having high energy feels good and makes me want to do more.
What are your tricks for building energy? Specific things that build energy for me include:
- thinking and talking about “big” things. Problems, ideas, concepts and trends that do not have easy or simple solutions — things that require learning
- sleep — without sleep I’m cranky and that hits my energy hard
- challenges met — identifying and conquering challenges give me enormous energy — thinking about things I did well and how I can do better
- processing time — without some processing time, I get too overloaded with all my thinking. I process best by not thinking directly on a topic: sleep, reading something completely unrelated and effortless, driving, yoga, meditation. Anything that gives my brain a break
- reading blogs and getting new ideas
What works for you? Have you learned to create energy for yourself?