You know the drill. Work, family and other obligations have you running ragged, and there’s always the feeling that there aren’t enough hours in the day. You’re stressed and exhausted, but sleep isn’t replenishing you. You struggle with productivity, your patience is thin, and the work you once loved just isn’t providing the same satisfaction anymore.
We would rather call it something else, an energy crisis. Burnout sounds like something you can’t come back from, but an energy crisis? Personal energy is renewable, you just have to know where to look for it.
That’s what personal energy management is all about, finding the sources of energy you need to get off the hamster wheel and back in the game in a way that you find affirming and satisfying. According to Tony Schwartz, author of The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working, we’ve got it all wrong when it comes to getting things done. Time isn’t a good measure of productivity. What really matters is energy and how much of it you bring to the things you do during those hours.
Companies are (slowly) realizing that productivity isn’t about managing time.
Instead, they’re learning that it’s about what we’re able to do during that time, using the energy we have at our disposal. The more energy we have, the higher our productivity, and ultimately we are happier and more satisfied with our work, too.
This concept doesn’t just apply to work, it extends to our whole lives. Having enough personal energy helps us be better partners, parents, and caregivers. It helps us contribute to the community in meaningful ways. It enables us to find meaning and satisfaction in our work, in our lives, and in ourselves.
Personal energy: A 100% renewable resource
Unlike time, personal energy isn’t finite. It’s something you can renew and increase. We get it from four sources:
- Physical: builds fitness, endurance, overall health
- Mental: creates focus, attention, intellectual engagement
- Emotional: generates excitement, connection, satisfaction
- Spiritual: enables a sense of feeling centered, of having meaning and fulfilment
We need all four types of energy to be truly replenished. The good thing is, by changing a few of our behaviors and habits, we can create a never-ending source.
These energies can be renewed by optimizing each part of ourselves with intentional behaviors that, practiced enough, become automatic habits. Personal energy management also introduces an idea that many of us may find startling, stress isn’t the enemy of performance. It’s the lack of recovery time from stress that’s the real culprit. Stress without recovery becomes chronic, and we know what that means: exhaustion, illness, poor performance, and a downward spiral that a week or two of vacation won’t even dent.
However, tapping into the four sources of energy provides that regular recovery, enabling us to do more in less time with greater satisfaction and without burnout. Doing that is something you can learn and develop, just like any skill.
Energizing employees: How a bank changed the engagement game
A regional bank was part of a study that looked at the impact of personal energy management on employee productivity, effectiveness, and engagement. They took 106 employees across 12 locations through four modules (one per month over four months), each focusing on improving one of the four key facets of personal energy.
When the study group’s data is compared with a control group that didn’t go through the program, the results were unmistakable. Of the program participants, 68% (vs. 34% in the control group) said their relationships with customers improved, and 71% (vs. 26% in the control group) said it positively impacted their productivity and performance. Plus, their revenues were 20% higher than the control group’s year-over-year and continued to outperform those who hadn’t been in the program for a full year.
Here’s an overview of the strategies program participants used as personal energy builders:
Restoring physical energy
- Eating for energy, choosing healthy options, focusing on small meals or snacks every three hours
- Starting an exercise program with cardio and strength training
- Getting enough sleep
- Taking short, regular breaks throughout the workday to switch gears and provide recovery time
Restoring mental energy
- Minimizing multitasking and fully focusing on one thing for a specific period of time without interruption
- Creating rituals to minimize interruptions, like scheduling specific periods in the day to answer emails rather than responding as they come in
- Scheduling time for challenging work. Instead of checking emails first thing in the morning, make an effort to spend the first hour tackling a difficult task
- Taking breaks every 1.5 to 2 hours
Restoring emotional energy
- Finding new ways to manage stress, from exercise to meditation
- Appreciating others by practicing gratitude, saying thank you, sending shout outs and compliments
- Changing the story by looking at a situation through a lens of positivity, seeing it from someone else’s perspective, or deciding how important it will be six months from now
Restoring spiritual energy
- Doing things that align with their values by consciously allocating time and energy to the parts of their lives (work, family, health, service to others) they feel are most important
- Finding what gives them a sense of meaning and purpose and doing that wherever possible
- Asking themselves, “what do you want to be remembered for” and acting accordingly
Think of two experiences you’ve had recently where you found yourself feeling effective, effortlessly absorbed, inspired and fulfilled. What talents were you drawing on to accomplish that task? Creativity? Organization? Analysis? Mentorship? Find a way to do more of that in your workday.
Renew and recharge: It’s okay to start small
When you’re already overwhelmed, adding something new can feel impossible. The great thing about personal energy management is that you can add in your “energizers” as quickly or slowly as you want. Some of them don’t take much effort at all, just some thought. The more you do, the more you’ll have capacity for.
Start by taking a walk at lunch or after work. Spend 15 minutes talking with your spouse after the kids have gone to bed. Go to bed earlier. Listen to music and dance around your kitchen. Drink more water.
What will your energy boosters be?
Want to get serious about increasing your personal energy?
In early March, we’re introducing “Energize and Shine,” a unique, 3-week program of daily, guided sessions. We’ll explore all the ways you can find the energy you need to feel better, get more done, and feel like you’re thriving instead of just surviving.
- New ways to manage stress, from exercise and meditation to positivity and gratitude
- How to improve your mental performance
- To make a habit of taking regular breaks to rest and refocus
Want to see how a few small tweaks to your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual performance can boost your personal energy? Access the replay of our Energize & Shine webinar from February 16. The recording can be accessed via this link and can be watched at your convenience. Looking for the added benefit of guidance and accountability through a three-week program? Energize & Shine: Guided Sessions is for you! Learn more now.