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How To Manage Your Energy, Instead Of Your Time
I’m sure that by now you have probably heard of the term time management. You plan and set aside chunks of time to work on specified tasks in order to increase your productivity. The question is…
What if there is a better way?
What if we can get more done in a given day, without having to schedule every minute planning and doing work? Well, according to the book The Power Of Full Of Engagement, there is a better way. And it involves managing your energy.
Now, why should we manage our energy? And how would we possibly go about doing it? First, let me mention to you the realization that our bodies only have a limited supply of energy. It’s sort of like a car. Once that energy (or gas in a car) is used up, we need to take a break and resupply. Think about this from a physical standpoint, you can’t run as fast as you can without taking a break can you?
The same holds true with our mental energy. We simply cannot push ourselves mentally for too long of a time without expecting at least a small decrease in performance. This understanding is what we are going to look at. And with this, we will learn to manage our energy, both physical and mental, so we can get more done, in less time. And be a lot happier as we are doing it…
Building Your Energy Capacity
As mentioned earlier, we are only supplied with a certain amount of energy. But that isn’t to say that we can’t increase our energy capacity over time.
How can we do this? We do it by pushing ourselves past our boundaries, quickly followed by a time for energy renewal. Think about this in the way of athletes. Look at sports such as baseball, football, tennis, and golf. What do all of these sports have in common?..
They involve intense moments of energy, followed by passive moments of recovery. In football, you bash your opponents brains in for 5-10 seconds, and then you take a thirty second break until the next play is called in. In baseball, you spend a split second using all the mental focus you have to try to hit a ball coming 100 miles per hour at you. Then, you take a break and wait for the next pitch. And so on with tennis, golf, and many other sports.
When these athletes are training on their own, they constantly work towards pushing themselves past their boundaries. They do this because they know this is how they get better. They take a quick break, and then try to push themselves to the maximum again.
By doing this, they eventually train their minds and bodies to be able to handle larger and larger amounts of strain. This is how they build their energy capacity. This is the same way you should do it in your life. By pushing yourself passed what you believe to be your limitations, taking a break, and then doing it all over again!
Positive Energy Rituals
Since the chances are better that you aren’t a professional athlete, I will spend the rest of the time talking to you as if you weren’t one.
With that being said, how can we use what athletes do to get better and apply that in our own lives. The answer, is positive energy rituals…
What on Earth are positive energy rituals? Positive energy rituals are defined as: highly specific routines for managing energy. It’s the key to managing your energy effectively.
In between moments of stress, you need a positive energy ritual to both help you recover, and also to get your energy back. These rituals come in all sorts of varieties from eating a healthy snack to taking a quick walk around the block.
A great example of a positive energy ritual that I can think of is a morning jog. Imagine that you build a positive energy ritual to roll out of bed each morning and go for a jog around the block. This ritual immediately increases your energy levels. Which then gives you the ability to do more difficult tasks.
A quick thing to note about this jogging example of a positive energy ritual. This ritual will get easier and easier for you over time.
When we first started jogging it took up a lot of our energy. We had to constantly fight the little person inside our brain telling us not to do it. This added mental effort made it hard on us because it took away some of our mental energy. However, over time our ritual started to become automatic. It didn’t require any extra energy because we got so used to the idea of jogging every morning.
This is the power behind all rituals. They conserve energy so you can use it for more important tasks. A morning jog may seem difficult at first. But over time, it gets easier and easier until it forms into a permanent habit.
That is why it is recommended that you schedule very specific times in your day to do certain tasks. These rituals quickly become habits that give you more and more energy to get things done.
Following Your Passion Takes Less Energy
Much like positive energy rituals, when you follow your passion, it requires less energy from you.
When you are doing something you simply cannot stand doing, it takes a mental and sometimes physical toll on you. The task itself may not even be that difficult. But it’s the mental strain you are putting on yourself that is what makes it so difficult.
Imagine the story of Bob. Bob’s a guy in college that has a real passion for business. He absolutely loves reading anything and everything he can find on the subject. On the other hand, Bob’s least favorite subject is Calculus. (I can’t imagine why he hated Calculus. Limits and Derivatives are so much fun!) :-) Nevertheless, imagine that he had a test in both subjects on back to back days.
For his first test, Bob had to spend all day reading about business. This was no problem for him since he already loved the subject. He spent the entire day reading the chapters that were assigned. He even read some chapters twice because he found them so interesting. When the test day came, he easily got an A.
On the second day, Bob had to study for his Calculus test. It took him forever to get started because he kept procrastinating. When he did study, he often found himself daydreaming of other things instead of studying. When the test time came, Bob didn’t do so well.
So we have two situations of Bob doing the exact same thing - studying for a college exam. But with one, he enjoyed it and had no problem studying all day. And with the other, he struggled to stay awake.
The reason for this is because studying for Calculus took so much more mental energy for him. It took his mind so much effort just to even get started. On the other hand, studying business was easy. His mind was continuously fueling him with energy so he could study longer. He was basically doing the same thing, but with two different outcomes.
The point is, when you are following your passion, it takes up so much less of your time and your energy. If you get stuck with doing something that you simply have to do, at least pretend like you enjoy it. This will enable you to conserve your energy so you can get the task done quicker.
A Final Example That Explains Everything
If you skipped down to here before, or you’ve been half awake while reading the article so far, there’s no need to worry. The example below will carefully show how someone can go about managing their energy in their daily life.
Let’s say we know a guy named Peter who is a professional writer. Before Peter decided to manage his energy, here’s how his typical day went..
First, he would wake up and grab a muffin, then write until noon, grab a quick lunch, and then write until 5:00 to end his day. By doing so (as you can imagine), Peter was frustrated. He quickly became very sick of writing all day and no longer enjoyed what he was doing. Hours seemed to go by where he got very little done when he was following this schedule.
Now, let’s give Peter a different schedule. Which involves effectively managing his energy.
First, Peter wakes up at the same time each morning. He’s works more effectively in the morning so he wakes up at 6:30. He then goes on to write, without distractions, until 8:00. After that, Peter takes a break to go for his morning jog. He jogs for 15 minutes, grabs a shower, and then sits down and has a nice, healthy breakfast. This routine takes him exactly 45 minutes.
At that point, he has another writing session from 8:45 to 10:10. From there, he takes a twenty minute break. This break includes a light weight training workout and also a brief meditation break. During this twenty minutes, he snacks on a piece of fruit or nuts to help keep his energy up.
After that, he works from 10:30 until noon for his third writing session.
As you can probably imagine, Peter was much happier and more productive when he switched to the second routine. He got more done in his three brief writing sessions then he did working all day in his other routine. After lunch, Peter could spend the rest of his afternoon taking care of other business since he already got so much done in the morning.
This is how you manage your energy effectively. By pushing yourself hard to work in 60-90 minute intervals. Then allowing planned recovery times to get back your energy. Then, once recovered, going back to work and pushing yourself for another 60-90 minute interval.
This sounds so simple, but you will be amazed by how effective it is! In my personal life, I have found the idea of snacking in between meals to be highly effective towards my energy…
Eat a 100-150 calorie snack of nuts, fruits, or an energy bar at around 10AM and 3PM (or between whenever your main meals are). Give your body a little energy boost that it needs to get you through the day a lot smoother.
A study was done where people were placed in a room with no clocks and nothing else but a nice supply of food. They were told to only eat when they were hungry. What this study found was that the people started eating every 90-120 minutes. To put this study in context, your body wants you to eat more meals! It doesn’t want you to have three meals that are spaced out in 4-5 hour intervals. It wants five or six shorter meals that keep your energy going throughout the entire day.
If you haven’t yet, pick up a copy of The Power Of Full Engagement. It gives several examples and techniques of how people started scheduling positive energy rituals in their day. And how much of an impact it had on their lives.
If you in any way feel that you are bombarded with work, pick up the book. Try scheduling time for energy renewal in your work days. It just might be the most important thing you ever do!
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