Four Steps to Use Your Energy Wisely

Don't try to be a busy bee when you feel like a snail.  Use these four steps to use your energy wisely.

The power of protecting and managing your energy

Have you ever had to work on a tough problem through afternoon brain fog or tried to declutter a room at the end of a day and felt completely overwhelmed?  As you struggled through did you think “why don’t I have more energy?”

Of course, sometimes you just blast through a project with time to spare. Wouldn’t it be great if you always worked that way 24/7?

I’m here to tell you….you can’t.  Our bodies and minds need rest.  But you can make sure that you nurture yourself so that you have your highest energy level and that you are using that precious energy on the most important things.

There are four steps to using your energy wisely:

  1. Know what affects your energy level
  2. Make changes to protect your energy
  3. Know when you will have energy
  4. Schedule for your energy levels

1 – Know what affects your energy level

The first step in using your energy wisely is to actually be aware of what affects your energy level.  As much as we would like to separate our bodies and minds, they are intertwined.  As we take care of our bodies we take care of our minds and vice versa.  Here are some ideas to consider as you think about what affects your own energy level.  Watch yourself over a few days and see if you notice what drains you and what energizes you.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Hours of sleep each night
  • What you eat and drink
  • DIfferent types of physical activity
  • How hydrated you are
  • Whether you’ve had some time outside
  • The total number of people you see and interact with
  • Specific people you interact with
  • The visual busyness of your environment (clutter, color and decoration)
  • The audio busyness of your environment (noise and music)
  • How many decisions you have to make
  • Amount of time in the day to stop and ponder (reflection and margin)

2 – Make changes to protect your energy

Once you know what affects your energy, be kind to yourself and eliminate everything draining that you can while increasing those things that energize you.  

For the introvert this might mean being proactive in reducing the number of people heavy events in your life.  It might mean limiting time with specific people. For the extrovert it might mean actively looking for ways to have more people time while reducing the amount of alone hours.

Once you’ve noticed that you feel better when you are properly hydrated you might be more motivated to make sure you drink enough water.  

How you feel after a walk around the block might be the impetus you need to do it regularly.

Making these changes in your life to protect your energy is like putting your own oxygen mask on before helping another with theirs.  You need to be your best self if you are going to have your best effect on the world.  No guilt about this!

3 – Know when you will have energy

Beyond the effect specific things have on your energy level, your body cycles through energy levels each day.  Many people wake up energized and then hit a slump mid afternoon.  Studies have shown that we have 90-120 minute cycles of physical and mental energy each day.  Do you know what your day looks like?

Figure out your daily pattern by keeping track of how you feel each hour for a few days – you can set a timer to go off every hour if you need help remembering.. 

Get as specific as you can.  Are mornings good until 10 am and then you dip for awhile?  Are you good for an hour after dinner and then you crash?

Notice whether you have a weekly pattern.  Are you charged on Monday morning and wiped out Friday afternoon?

4 – Schedule for your energy levels

Now that you know both how to protect and increase your energy level and when you have the most energy, you are ready to make the magic happen.

Schedule use of energy

Schedule the things that need your energy and focus (mental energy) in the times when you have the most energy.  I use schedule chunking to plan my day around my energy levels.

Make sure you have a plan to maintain focus during those high energy times so you don’t waste these precious high energy times.

Schedule renewal of energy

Schedule times to do the things that keep your energy levels high during the times you have lower energy levels. I spend all morning doing my most important mental energy work.  After lunch I’m still pretty wiped out mentally so I go for a long walk or a bike ride outside.  By the time I get back I am ready to work again.

If you do more physical tasks during the day schedule times to rest physically, by doing mental tasks or even just actually resting!  Short true breaks will allow you to work longer overall.

Use routines to get through low energy times

Decision making can be a huge energy sink.  Have routine in place for those low energy times.  This will make it easier to get something done.  My after lunch walk is an example of that.  I usually walk or bike the same route so I don’t have to make any decisions about how far I’m going or where to go.  I just head out the door.

How will you use your energy wisely?

Are you aware of what affects your energy and how to protect it?  Do you schedule around your energy levels each day?  I’d love to know what works for you!

Steps to using your energy wisely

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