LIFESTYLE PRODUCTIVITY? “MANAGE YOUR ENERGY LEVEL”
I was speaking to a friend recently and she kept complaining that she lacked energy in doing a lot of her daily chores – at work and at home. I asked her some questions and I discovered that her energy level was not being distributed properly.
Are you aware that energy is just like money. If you give a lot of money to a person who has no idea of how to ‘handle’ it, then they will squander it all on all sorts of things and before long will be back to the ‘broke’ path in a jiffy. Money does seem like a whiff of smoke….
In the same way, If you give energy to a person who has no idea how to ‘handle’ it then they’ll burn themselves out in a relatively quick time too… You have to learn to manage your energy just like learning to manage money… All successful people have figured out how to do this, whether they know it or not…
So when we talk about energy we must refer to TIME management which is one of the most sought after skills in business and in the home. Time is limited and you cannot actually manage time; you can only manage how you use the time which is available to you. You can make the very best of plans to use your time effectively but there is one thing which can destroy even the best made plans – your energy levels. If you want to manage your time effectively, you must be able to manage your energy levels. Your energy levels fluctuate throughout the day so, you must be able to determine the right task to perform at the right time e.g. if your energy levels are low, you will want to focus on completing tasks which require little energy. You can then perform the tasks which require higher energy levels during periods where your energy levels are at their highest.
The varying degrees of your energy level can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Sometimes you have to have the energy to complete a task or activity and other times you seem to have the most energy when you’re trying to relax. If you can learn how to manage your energy levels effectively, you can move ahead rather than lag behind. To do this takes a conscious effort to understand and manage both your energy levels and your workload. I have had to recognise and flow with my energy boost and not allow it to stress me when it is slow. What I do is ask myself what tasks I can best achieve at said time.
The following questions exercises, when used regularly, will help you to gain a better understanding of your energy levels so that you may adapt your lifestyle to maximise your energy levels and boost your performance.
1. When are you most energetic?
Some people are more energetic in the mornings and others are night owls. You may think that you can determine from past experience which time of day you get more done. However, from my own experience, I can assure you that many people make incorrect assumptions with regards to their energy levels. If you are going to try to make real improvements; your decisions need to be based on accurate information; not assumptions.
It is best to measure your energy levels at specific times throughout the day. You can create a worksheet with a scale of 1 – 10 on one axis and each hour or half hour of your working day on the other axis. Every 30-60 minutes make a mark on the sheet to indicate where your energy levels are. This will help you to see how much your energy levels fluctuate throughout the day. Over the course of a week or two, you will begin to understand when you have the highest energy levels and when your energy levels are at their lowest. You can then schedule your work accordingly. This is an exercise that you NEED to do!
2. What drains you of your energy
Be honest about this assessment. When you know which obstacles and situations keep you from being the best you can be, you can do what it takes to minimise them or eradicate them from your life. Think about:
- Which people drain your energy?
- Which tasks drain your energy?
- Which habits drain your energy? etc.
When you are able to identify the people and things which drain you of energy, you can start to reduce their impact on your life. In some cases, you will be able to remove them entirely while with others, you may only be able to reduce the frequency with which you encounter them. Some supplementary questions which may help you here include:
- Which energy draining tasks don’t actually need to be done?
- Which energy draining tasks can I delegate or outsource?
- Which energy draining tasks can I perform less frequently?
- Which energy draining people can I remove from my life?
- Which energy draining people can I deal with less frequently?
- Can I change the method with I communicate with energy draining people e.g. email rather than face to face?
- Which energy draining habits can I replace with better habits?
As you can tell from these questions, there is often a lot of room for improvement when dealing with the things which drain your energy. By improving just a few of them you will be able to manage your energy levels a lot better and achieve better results.
3. When you do have energy, is it negative or positive?
If you have lots of energy, but your output is all about negativity, you are likely in a constant reactive mode rather than a positive, active mode. Negative, but energetic people never seem to have enough time to get things done.
You may think that the high energy levels of these negative people is helpful but if you are constantly focused on negativity, you are likely to end up wasting your energy on things which are not really that important. At best, you become a busy fool who does a lot of work which may benefit others but fails to achieve anything of importance for yourself. At worst, you are constantly putting out fires and fail to achieve anything of benefit to anyone.
With positive energy, you are not focused on what you are trying to move away from; you are focused on what you are trying to achieve. You are more likely to create the life you focus on so, it is imperative that you focus on the bigger picture. Of course there will be times when you have to deal with emergencies but the majority of your time should be filled with positive energy and focus.
4. Are you using your energy to make headway or merely survive?
We all have increasing demands on our time. The way that we meet it determines whether we go through life just barely getting by or having the energy to advance. Quit rushing through in survival mode simply to get things done. Choose performance over immediate solutions. I used to work in survival mode until I realised I was doing more damage to my health. So, I learnt the signs and knew when to stand still to replenish my energy.
When you are in survival mode you are constantly using energy but rarely ever replenishing it. To manage your energy levels effectively, you must be able to rebuild your energy stores throughout the day. By taking the time to focus on the positive, plan effectively and choose long-term solutions, you allow yourself the opportunity to build your energy levels back up before jumping back into action.
5. Are you consistent in the way you handle situations?
When you experience energy highs and lows, you may find yourself reacting to situations according to your energy level. If you’re energetic, you can be positive, but if you’re lethargic you could react in a totally negative manner. This can end up with you expending more energy on a situation than it merits e.g. I recently began to look for a crucial note that I had written out. I couldn’t locate it where I thought I had filed it. The more I looked for this paper the more stressed I became and not thorough. This went on for about two hours – as time went I began to sweat and started being short tempered with those around me -then I realised what was happening and stopped! I took a deep breath, let it out and decided to leave what I was writing at that point and go on to another document I had to work on. Next day, when I sat down in my office, I zeroed into a certain file I never thought about and AHA there was that piece of paper. Yes, it was crucial I found that paper that I had jotted down some points for what I was working on, but was it crucial at that point for me to find it? NO! Have you found yourself in such a position? How did you feel?
So, the key to managing your energy level for productivity is to deal with each situation based on its importance not based on how you feel at the time. Try to be consistent in your reactions and it will help you manage your energy levels more effectively.
I have a little handbook soon to come out on ‘Quick Tips for a More Productive Lifestyle’.
Thomas Leonard, a highly successful financial planner and business entrepreneur says that time is an illusion –
“There’s no such thing as time management. There’s only activity management in the time we’re given.”
How much activity you get done in that allotted time is directly responsible for how energetic you are. Make your activities into priorities according to your energy level. Performing low-energy tasks at times when you’re least energetic and high-energy tasks at times when your energy level is highest can help you meet all the demands and expectations and still have time to relax and enjoy life.
The management of your energy level will result in a dramatic improvement in the way you management your time for better productivity and success in your life. Try it out – don’t just read this and pass by. Take notes and be a DO-ER!!
Leave comments on how you accomplished this….. 🙂
Laila St. Matthew-Daniel