What will I learn?
- Why your energy is more important than your time
- What affects your energy throughout the day
- Simple tricks for better energy management
I invite you to explore a shift in perspective:
It is not the number of hours in a day that is important, but how you spend them matters most.
When we talk about time management - schedules, calendars, and to-do lists are all tools that come to mind. But what happens when it's time for you to complete an important item on your to-do list at a predetermined time - and you are completely exhausted? Has this ever happened before?
Focusing solely on time management fails to account for your most important asset, your energy. Rushing around like a headless chicken trying to be as productive as possible will undoubtedly leave you exhausted and lead to burnout. If your energy is neglected and your schedules are prioritized, your body will no doubt let you know about it.
Listen to your body
Managing your energy is all about listening to the subtle signals you receive from your body throughout the day. If you listen carefully, you will hear what it is trying to say.
Your energy is affected by many factors including but not limited to:
- Diet and exercise
- Social life
- Time of day
- Emotional and physical health status
As you can see from this list, there can not be a one-size size fits all approach to managing your energy. Each approach will need to be individualised. Take the time to assess how your body reacts to the food you eat, your thoughts, your job, and the people you interact with. How do you feel after these situations? Energized? Or are you drained and unenthusiastic?
Let's dive deeper into the low-hanging fruit you have control over: your diet & exercise; your Social Life; and your thoughts.
1. Diet and Exercise
It is no secret that diet and exercise are the two most fundamental aspects of where your energy is generated from. Your body uses the nutrients from the food you eat to maintain its systems and structures. You are (literally) what you eat.
Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lung health improve, you have more energy to tackle daily chores and meaningful work.
How to manage your energy through Diet and Exercise:
- Listen to your body - pay close attention to how you feel throughout the day
- Eat when you are hungry, not when you think you should be eating
- Try different eating patterns and different foods - pay attention to how you feel after eating them and take notes
- Eat a whole food, 85% plant-based diet
- Avoid eating ultra-processed, hyper-palatable foods
- Drink water for thirst
- Move your body for 3o minutes each day - include a variety of cardiovascular and resistance exercises
- Experiment with different workout patterns to find what you like
- Find a like-minded friend or community to keep you motivated and accountable
2. Social Life
There will no doubt be people in your life who leave you inspired and energetic after spending time with them, and some who leave you completely exhausted. You know that one person you cannot spend 5 minutes with before being utterly irritated; The one who constantly offloads their drama onto you, brings their issues into your life, and is never in the wrong? A good term for these types of people is 'bloodsucker'. They latch on like a leach and suck the life out of you. You want to avoid contact with these people as much as possible. Your energy is vital and should be protected from these thieving beings.
This can be difficult if the bloodsucker is a family member, a sibling's partner, a colleague, or anyone else you might have to spend time with at family/work social gatherings. Ideally, you would want to eliminate all contact with this person, but if that is not possible, you want to limit your time with them. A good way to do this is to be conscious of how much time you can spend with them, and how often, before you feel you are about to explode with rage and emotion.
I call this the "BS exposure limit", BS for bloodsuckers. Is it 1 day per week? 1 hour per day? 30 mins a month? 5 mins a year? Whatever it may be, be conscious of it and listen to your emotions. Be strategic and limit the time you spend with the bloodsuckers.
How to manage your energy with your social interactions:
- Take note of who you spend most of your time with
- Of these people, who energizes you? and who drains you?
- Of the people who drain you, try to eliminate all interactions with them
- If this is not possible, work out your BS exposure limit as mentioned above
- Ensure you don't exceed your exposure limit
- Finally, spend more time with people who leave you inspired and energized
Your thoughts affect your emotions, and your emotions affect how you feel. I cannot express the importance of attuning to how you feel in any situation; Being mindful, aware, and conscious of your emotions allows you to identify people, locations, activities, and situations that bring about positive or negative results for you.
Avoid people and situations that bring about energy-draining thought & emotions such as:
Burning through limited cognitive resources by overthinking drains energy from your ENTIRE body. When I find myself going into these downward spirals of thought, this is what I try to do to stop myself:
- Say out loud “Nope! Not today!”, and remind yourself what task your thoughts distracted you from so you can carry on your merry way
- Ask for clarity – clarity is the key to effective communication and simply getting a response from someone will immediately clear your mind of any doubtful thoughts
- Write your thoughts/questions down on paper and read through them the next day – you will see your thoughts from a different perspective and often answer your questions
- Understand your locus of control – If you can fix it, then fix it, if it is out of your control, no thoughts or actions will affect the outcome so there is no use in wasting energy on them
- Take a break from technology – spend time away from any screens, music, or podcasts, preferably in nature to reduce stimulation and free up mental space
- Talk to friends or family – getting your thoughts out of your head in the form of spoken and written words can help you gain clarity
As I always say, listen to your body and be mindful of how you feel throughout the day. You will learn about your body’s natural energy cycle by simply noticing how you feel. Understanding the natural fluctuations of your energy throughout your day allows you to prioritize and schedule your most important tasks for the times you have the most energy, so you can get the best bang for your buck.
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