5 Ways to Manage Your Energy Not Your Time
Our downtime and how well we sleep, eat and socialise with friends and family have a direct impact on our ability to do our job successfully.
Yet, many of us spend too many hours at our desks which can lead to various health issues and burnout. When we’re exhausted (physically, mentally or emotionally), we don’t engage as effectively with our colleagues, it’s more difficult to focus. And as a manager, this can mean lower employee engagement and higher employee turnover.
It’s easy to work a little longer when phone calls, emails and incoming tasks derail you from your to-do-list. And it’s hard to say ‘no’ to colleagues when they ask for your help, even if you have a lot on your plate.
When managing your time, activity like this can often prevent you from being fully focused on a critical task. To be a consistently high performer, you need to manage your energy instead.
When you manage your energy, you can bring your best performance to whatever requires your attention. This means you can think more clearly and creatively. You will also be more focused and be 100% present in conversations without thinking about your day plan going out the window.
In this article, we take a look at five ways to manage your energy and how leaders can motivate their employees to do the same.
1. Sleep, Eat Well and Exercise
To work effectively and sustainably, we need to set our body on the right path. Eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep are all paramount to our energy levels during the day.
A good workout can make you more alert and energise you for the day ahead. However, experts warn against exercising before night as this often disrupts our sleep.
Eating a balanced diet is also crucial for keeping your energy levels high throughout the day and preventing fatigue. Because different foods are converted to energy at different rates, so it’s important to supply all the reserves you’ll draw on throughout the day.
Sleep is connected to several brain functions including concentration, cognition and productivity. Great tips for getting enough deep sleep include:
Switching screens off an hour before you go to bed
Avoiding caffeine in the afternoon and evening
Furthermore, our bodies operate in cycles. We are constantly moving from high-energy states into a slump and back up again. We cannot spend nine hours at a desk and expect the same energy levels throughout. Our bodies, mind and spirit need recovery periods.
So when you feel your energy levels dropping and you have difficulty concentrating, don’t ignore your body and keep working.
Instead, take short breaks which gives you an opportunity to take a step back and think about the bigger picture, this allows you to think creatively and ultimately your high performance will be more sustainable.
This can be going for a twenty minute walk - getting fresh air and switching your brain activity off for a little while.
2. Acts of Gratitude
Our emotions determine our energy and sharing gratitude is a great way to boost your mood and the mood of those around you.
“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.”
(Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy in HBR)
Sending a note of thank you in the morning to someone who helped you can be a great way to lift your mood and theirs. We are a very social species and depend on those around us, so passing gratitude forward can have a really constructive effect on our mindset, as well as building a mutual respect between those around you.
Spreading positivity is great, however, we cannot be expected to be in a positive mindset all of the time. And when we fail to ‘be positive’ that can leave us feeling worse, not better.
Likewise, feeling lonely can have extremely negative effects on energy and is why working from home can be extremely challenging for some people. Over the past few months, I’ve seen some amazing examples of people reaching out to offer a helping hand to others and stay connected. One of these is a trend on LinkedIn where industry leaders offer their time to share their advice and insights with those who many need it.
3. Do What Motivates You At The Right Time
Do the work that is most critical at a time when you work best. Everyone works differently, some better in the mornings and others get their energy in the evenings. Try scheduling your most critical tasks at a time when you feel most energised and focused. For me, this is usually in the morning after a workout and healthy breakfast.
Scientists who have studied when you are better at keeping distractions at bay have shown that ‘speed and accuracy at completing tasks’ are better in the morning. And our ability to remain alert has a close correspondence with our sleep schedules. For most of us, this means a peak twice a day - once in the late morning and once in the evening.
Understanding when your body and mind work best can help elevate your work and prevent you from spending hours on work and not getting very far with it because your energy levels are dwindling.
For those moments where you do feel low in energy, it might be a good idea to switch from work that requires deep thought to more creative work. Research has shown that we are more creative when we feel a little tired, so use these times to enhance innovative and problem-solving ideas.
And when you do feel yourself procrastinating and avoiding the task at hand, try ticking off one of your easier to do lists to pick up momentum. Completing one small action, especially on a task that is a bottleneck preventing you from getting to the next step, can make a huge difference to how you feel.
4. Be Authentic
Trying to be someone you’re not is exhausting and can drain your energy. Don’t twist yourself into someone else’s mould of who you think you should be.
One of the best parts of working as a team is engaging with people who have different strengths to your own. Trying to mimic somebody else’s activity can consume energy, whereas utilising your individual strengths will unleash it. You will feel more confident and at ease and therefore perform better.
When we use behavioural science to assess ‘fit’ with a client, one of the things we look for in a candidate is how well they will thrive in that particular environment. Where their skills, experience and way of working will compliment the brand’s so they do not have to fight who they are or change how they operate.
5. Make Small Adjustments To Your Daily Routine
It’s also important to make incremental changes to your routine and establish simple rituals that when put together, lead to startling results on your wellbeing and productivity.
Breaking down tasks into smaller segments means that the work is more manageable, which reduces our propensity to procrastinate and also helps to avoid stress.
An example of this is exercising for five minutes and then increasing that time by an extra minute per day. Seen in isolation, the change is small and doesn’t make a large impact to your day. However, after a short while, the compounding effect will make a huge difference to your energy.
We speak more about the benefits of taking smaller steps and thinking about daily achievements in our blog about the Kaizen approach.
How Leaders Can Inspire Their Team To Think About Their Energy
Energy comes from our mental and physical wellbeing, which is often determined by how well our mind and body are rested and fuelled as well as the changes we make to motivate ourselves.
As a leader, an important part of your role is motivating your team to feel energised, so they can be more productive and think innovatively. When employees are satisfied with the way they work, they will be more likely to finish tasks to a high level.
As Executive Headhunters in Fashion, Beauty, Luxury and Lifestyle, we can help you place leaders who inspire a sustainable and engaging way of working.
Our in-house methodology based on applied Behavioural Science means we are able to deliver candidates who represent the mission and values of your company. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch.