We often talk about the importance of time management. But an hour of doing something when we feel alert is very different from an hour when we feel sluggish. Energy management gives us a different and effective understanding of how we operate. It helps us to be productive while taking care of ourselves.
Too often we treat our energy as limitless. Instead, it’s useful to think of our energy as a battery. Our energy gets used up and then our battery needs charging. Our energy is always going up and down. It’s something we need to be aware of and manage to make sure our battery doesn’t go flat.
We can think of all activities, all the things we do, as either giving us energy and topping up that battery or depleting our energy and draining our battery. All activities are either energy givers or energy drains.
When we use more energy than we gain our energy becomes depleted. Our resilience can then be low. We find things take us longer to do, are more tiring and become more difficult to cope with. When this low energy balance goes on for a while, it can lead to chronic stress and health problems. When we gain more energy than we use, our battery is topped up, we feel good, we can think more clearly and be productive. We can get things done quicker and more effectively, plus we can solve problems more easily. Ultimately, we are resilient.
Here are three areas to explore in order to manage your energy and build resilience.
1. Be aware of your energy level.
Regularly check in with how you are feeling. Take a couple of minutes every now and then, to be present, take a few deep breaths and notice how you are feeling physically and emotionally.
By being aware of how you are feeling, you will understand your energy level. You will then be able to make better decisions about what tasks you can take on or what you can do to top up your battery.
Try asking yourself:
- Do I view my energy as limited or limitless?
- How am I feeling right now?
- Is there something simple I need right now to take care of myself?
2. Do an energy audit.
Start being aware as you go through your day of how different activities and tasks make you feel. Notice your energy levels going up and down. Activities could include housework, life admin, work, family, conversations, self-care or downtime. Remember that something that makes you feel great could be exhausting for someone else and vice versa. We all respond quite individually.
- Of the tasks and activities I did yesterday, which ones made me feel energised?
- And which ones lowered my energy?
- How did my energy balance yesterday? That is, added together, did I do more things that drained me or topped me up?
3. Aim to balance your energy.
Of course there are times when we have low energy for many different reasons, such as illness. There are also times when we have no choice but to keep going and power through overwhelming situations. But with an awareness of your energy needs, you may be able to make small changes that make a big difference.
Aim to do more of the things that energise you each day. Check in with yourself to be aware of the one key thing you need to top up on at that moment. If you can’t give yourself what is needed right then, consider how you can prioritise this and make time later.
Aim to devote less energy to the things that drain you. Consider what things are non-essential and can be taken off your to do list. For those things that are unavoidable, consider how you can do the minimum or ask others to help you. Try scheduling activities that are tougher to do for higher energy periods. Also try doing things that energise you before or after to balance out the drain of energy.
- Thinking generally, what are 5 things that I do that top up my energy?
- How can I do more of the things that energise me?
- What are 5 things that I do that drain my energy?
- How can I reduce the time spent on things that drain me?
- What tasks can I take off my to do list today?
Let me know how you get on with managing your energy.
You might also like to check out these 10 Quick, Uplifting Things You Can Do (Even When You Have No Time).
Sign up to #WalkWednesday – a weekly question to ponder as you wander.
Too often we treat overworking and feeling stressed as something normal and acceptable. Let’s try working in ways that are productive yet also good for ourselves and those around us. Find out more about Recharging Walks for your team or community and Resilience Coaching.