The Energy Tank
I ask all my employees if there is anything about my leadership style that they would like me to take the time to share with them or teach them about. Once, one of them responded by saying “you have an energy tank that you seem to be able to keep pretty full all the time.”
I had never thought about my energy tank or energy tanks in general until that moment. When he asked me to share my strategies around keeping my energy up, I had to really take some time to reflect on whether I had even had strategies and if so, what they were.
I can agree I have a lot of energy and I believe that I do find the energy to manage a pretty crazy schedule most of the time. When I realized that not everyone dials up the energy the same way I do I started to journal about my energy every day. I would write down how my energy was that day during the morning, after lunch and after work. I started to keep track of the activities I did on the days when my energy was high and the activities I did on the days when it was low. After a month of tracking, I found some significant patterns. I realized how much my energy was effecting my productivity daily and how the activities, foods or interactions I was having impacted my energy both negatively and positively. I realized some of my habits were so deep and ingrained in me and that some of them were really driving the energy levels that others were seeing in me. A couple of major energy drivers for me were:
Morning exercise: If I exercise in the morning, my mood and energy are better all day
Sugar: Sugar is a killer of my energy. I realized every time I ate something sugary, I crashed so hard that I was nearly falling asleep in meetings.
Sleep Patterns: I realized if I get six hours of sleep or more, my energy level can be maintained for the following two days. Since discovering this, I have done some sleep pattern work and realize I sleep in three hour increments so now I try to sleep for 6 hours or 9 when I am needing a lot of energy for the week.
Too much caffeine: As you know, I am a coffee lover. I was drinking so much coffee, my energy levels without it would drop significantly. Now, in the afternoon at works, I try to drink green tea or even caffeine free tea. I realized my habit was about an afternoon pause for a warm drink more than the coffee.
Mental strength: Nothing effects my physical energy more than my mental energy. I try to listen to books on audible on my drive in or on plane rides. I find that reading keeps my mind energized. TV has the opposite effect, it slows my mental energy way down. I never watch TV if I know I have to get some work done or I never sit to watch TV if I am trying to make it to the gym later.
These are just some of the daily activities I found through an energy journal process that allow me to control and manage my energy like a gas and brake pedal. When I have a big month of travel ahead, I get very strict about workouts, sleep and food. On vacation when I want to get more sleep, I indulge in things that will make me tired, like watching a movie.
The greatest energy booster for me to start a day is five minutes of meditation and when I need to start a tough project or something that requires my detailed focus, I have developed 15 minute energy boost life hacks. I will go for a walk, change my environment by taking a 15 minute phone call in a different location than my office. I’ll grab a drink from the cafe without any electronics and people watch or I’ll have a quick chat with someone that is completely non work related. If I can’t do any of that, I’ll turn my computer off and turn on music for fifteen minutes. Music energizes my mind. Taking a music break or playing music when it is time to focus has proven to be a must have life hack for me to reset my energy levels.
We are all different. Some of us are energized by our time with other people, some of us get energy from individual tasks and alone time. I am a combo so finding a balance between the two is crucial for my energy balance.
Homework: Do an energy journal this week. Write down how your energy was in the morning, after you ate lunch and in the evening after a transition from work. Include the activities you did. Note the lowest point of energy in your day. Think about a 15 minute energy booster for you and insert in during the time you are crashing on energy. This might be 15 minutes of reading a book or getting away from people if you are introverted. Maybe if you are extroverted, this will be a 15 minute walk with a coworker or employee. You can talk work or not depending on if work talk is a drainer for you.
Maybe, like for me, it’s journaling when your mind is hitting overload during the day or at night. Getting the thoughts on paper that are swirling in your mind often relieves your mind of the tiredness it is feeling. Maybe the key is scheduling fifteen minutes breaks during the day to take care of personal things like doctor’s appointments or balancing your household budget. Often our energy in the evening is low and we are tired so our to-do list piles up and we expend even more energy thinking about what we didn’t do. Imagine if you got personal items done every day and could go home care free at night. Your energy will be boosted. This is one change I am committing to in the coming year. I plan to spend 15-30 minutes during my day to pay bills, make phone calls, and catch up on personal emails. My mental to-do list is a big drain on my mental energy and my physical energy because it often prevents the right amount of sleep for me at night.
I hope your journaling and reflections reveal some great strategies and insightful reflections. Please share your 15 minute energy boost strategies with the tribe via the comment section of this blog. Have a great week full of energy Boss tribe!