These days, it’s all too easy to think about how much more you could accomplish, master or earn if you only had more time. To compensate, we stretch ourselves entirely too thin. We cut back on sleep, we say no to lunch breaks in favor of stuffing our faces over our keyboards and we skip out on family activities and special events in order to put in more facetime at the office or place of business.
Rather than maximizing efficiency and encouraging innovation, however, trying to cram a week’s worth of work into a single 24-hour period is leaving many of us overworked, overtired, and, quite simply, burnt out. We’re bitter toward our bosses, and we have a hard time leaving work behind when we come home. We’re struggling to find that balance between the things we must do to support ourselves and our families and the things we want to do for our own enjoyment. So, what’s the solution? As much as we all yearn for more hours in a day, it’s not about to happen – so rather than focus on time, which is finite, perhaps it’s time to start placing more emphasis on the energy we have to help fill that increasingly limited time. Consider the following:
Resolve to make new rituals in the New Year
Do certain behaviors and actions tend to zap your energy? Energy results when the body, mind, emotions and spirit work effectively in conjunction with one another, so anything that hinders any of these four areas has the capacity to drain your battery. Over time, changes in rituals and behaviors become habits, so make some reasonable, attainable changes in 2017 that will boost your energy over time. Think about the days that you’ve been filled with energy and excitement – what were you doing differently? Resolve to avoid small things that sap energy, like eating lunch at your desk, checking emails as soon as you wake up, multi-tasking, or skipping your afternoon break. Form healthy rituals like quick morning walks, meditating when you get home to detox from your day (we love Headspace!) and taking consistent breaks throughout the day.
Adopt energy-management techniques
If you’re struggling with getting it all done in a given time frame, your first inclination is likely to set that alarm clock even earlier to do so. Stop. Sure, you may get to the office earlier, but if you aren’t well-rested, you’re unlikely to maximize your time and output while there. Start going to bed an hour or so earlier, while setting your alarm for the same time as before, and watch how that extra rest affects your ability to produce. Start identifying other energy-zappers, too. Maybe you’re in an unhealthy relationship that is monopolizing your attention and emotions, or perhaps you’ve begun going to one-too-many happy hour mixers and are finding that your energy levels suffer as a result. The bottom line is, stop thinking about how to maximize time, and start focusing on maximizing energy.
Recognize when your energy is at its peak
You may be a night owl who scoffs at our “go to bed early” advice. Or perhaps you love to wake before the sun and get most of your creative work out of the way early. Embrace your own personal schedule, and mold your life around it. Schedule routine meetings and admin work for the times that you’re least energized, while saving your zest for creative work, brainstorming, and important presentations. If exercising leaves you feeling jazzed up, try to schedule it for the morning so that energy carries you through the day, and no matter your sleep schedule make sure you’re getting 6-8 hours of it each day to prevent feeling fuzzy.
Recognize the upside of downtime
It’s hard to enjoy a slow-paced dinner with the family if you’re distracted with how you’re going to finish a major project before tomorrow’s presentation. Give yourself the time to do the things that matter to you personally – not professionally – and learn to keep the two separate. Turn your work phone off when you take that run, or take your kids to breakfast before you begin the workday. When you’re in the workplace, you’ll feel less guilty about neglecting other areas of your life and instead be able to focus on the immediate tasks at hand – to the benefit of not only your business, but yourself and your entire family.
As much as we wish otherwise, we are never going to have more time at our disposal. Rather than try and stretch 32 hours of work into those 24, it’s time to make those 24 hours as efficient as possible – and it all starts with energy.