Are you attempting the work-life balance, but feeling even more drained trying to manage your time between fitness, healthy meals, meetings and work? Well one expert says it’s because you’re dividing yourself by time, not energy.
Here’s how to tune-into your energy flow and turn yourself into a superstar performer.
UNDERSTANDING WELL-BEING AND ENERGY
We’re not talking about anything new-age. Simply put we all have and produce energy. We’re impacted by the energy of people and places we encounter, and like a ball being rolled: our energy can speed–up or dissipate. Essentially, we have four pillars of energy: emotional, mental, physical and spiritual. Unlike time which finite (there will only ever be 24 hours in a day), your energy is a renewable resource. If it’s balanced, utilized properly and nurtured, you can continue to feel energized among all of the four pillars, and avoid becoming drained, unmotivated, tired and depleted.
Many of us look to dividing-up our time among our priorities, rather than our energy, which leads to “declining levels of engagement, increasing levels of distraction, high turnover rates, and soaring medical costs among employees” according to Harvard Business Review.
TUNE INTO YOUR ENERGY FLOW: TAKE AN ENERGY AUDIT
To get to a balanced and top-producing energy pace, we need to first take an energy audit of ourselves. This allows us to “diagnose” our current energy state and recognize where we need to change. Check-in to each of the four pillars and take note of which pillars relate to how you’re feeling.
Emotional energy is where are you at emotionally. Do you find yourself easily agitated? Or quick to anger? If you answered yes, this could be a sign that your emotional energy is in a slump. Which means your happiness and sense of hope feel as though they’ve dissipated.
Mental energy is your ability to focus… and the modern workspace doesn’t make it easy. From group chats to app alerts, emails and phone calls, it can seem impossible to get any real work done. According to Harvard Business Review, “a temporary shift in attention from one task to another—stopping to answer an e-mail or take a phone call, for instance—increases the amount of time necessary to finish the primary task by as much as 25%, a phenomenon known as “switching time.””
You can diagnose poor physical energy by weight gain, eating unhealthy, a lack of exercise, working long hours and not sleeping well. You can also diagnose it by excessive feelings of “crashing” at the office, yawning and restlessness.
Your spiritual energy is is determined by your feelings of fulfillment. Do you have a purpose? Are you working at and nurturing that purpose? An easy way to figure this out is to ask yourself “What do you want to be remembered for,” explains Harvard Business Review. Do you want to be remembered as the parent that was always there? Or the over-worked business partner who ran his employees to death? Or perhaps the person always stepping-out of family and social events to take calls?
If you find that your true priorities (volunteering, spending time with family, creative brainstorming) are not actually being recognized (instead you are answering emails and phone calls throughout the day and night, working overtime and writing detailed reports) your spiritual energy will be thrown-off, leaving you feeling uninspired.
CREATE A ROUTINE
Once you’ve figured out which areas of your emotional health may be suffering, it’s time to come-up with a routine that balances them.
An article in Harvard Business Review has solutions to plummeting emotional energy. One of the most simple and effective is called “buying time.” “Deep abdominal breathing is one way to do that. Exhaling slowly for five or six seconds induces relaxation and recovery, and turns off the fight-or-flight response. A powerful ritual that fuels positive emotions is expressing appreciation to others, a practice that seems to be as beneficial to the giver as to the receiver. It can take the form of a handwritten note, an e-mail, a call, or a conversation—and the more detailed and specific, the higher the impact.”
“It’s far more efficient to fully focus for 90 to 120 minutes, take a true break, and then fully focus on the next activity. We refer to these work periods as “ultradian sprints,” explains an article in Harvard Business Review. Physically remove yourself from distracting spaces when you need to focus and make a routine of it. If you find that you’ve become a slave to answering phone-calls and emails, and as a result are taking longer to complete tasks, set boundaries and rules for yourself. Also, it’s important to tune-into your brain’s natural flow. Do you feel more creative in the morning or afternoon? Delegate tasks to yourself based on this.
First and foremost it’s essential to incorporate some type of physical activity into your day. It may be difficult, but being active is not out-of-reach for anyone. Wake up an hour-earlier each day to partake in some kind of physical activity. This will give you an energy boost throughout the day and will help your bodily processes get in-check. Also, making a point to eat nutrient-rich foods, multiple times a day will help balance your glucose levels and will help avoid the energy “peaks and valleys” of the day, Harvard Business Review explains. You could take a lap around the building or do x amount of sit-ups or push-ups at the top of every hour. Also, taking small breaks throughout the day can ground your physiology and keep that energy flowing.
First, determine what your priorities are and what your interests are at work, what fuels you? Then, make some changes. If family is a priority, choose to not answer calls or emails after a certain time each day. If creative brainstorming and strategy is one of your strong-suits at work, find solutions at work, possibly by collaborating with others, so that you are able to exercise more of your prefered skills at the workplace.
COMMIT TO CHANGE
This is probably the hardest part. It’s one thing to know what you need to do and what steps you need to take, however it’s another to actually act on it consistently. Know that nothing changes if nothing changes. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. In a world where the only real constant is the fact that everything is constantly changing at one level or another, it’s important to embrace and utilize that fact for your benefit.