As a species, we’re always chasing time and wanting more of it.
I like keeping myself busy by taking on many roles—a CEO, a mentor, a husband, a father, a friend—and it’s no surprise that life is anything but quiet. I used to think that I needed more time to manage everything, but I’ve learned that it’s not just about that.
Much like running a marathon—it’s about knowing how to manage and balance your energy to pace yourself, not exhaust yourself.
This relates back to the very fundamentals of science. For example, in the law of physics, you can produce more work by using the same amount of time if you adjust the amount of energy or power that you use. The question then becomes, how can one manage and produce more energy?
The following are some ways that I’ve found to be personally useful when managing my energy to get more done:
1. Develop awareness to identify the biggest areas where you’re draining and gaining energy. We all exert and gain energy from different sources. Does this come from your clients? Employees? What are the risks that are keeping you up at night? For me, decision making in the context of high uncertainty takes a toll on my energy. Spending time with my family and colleagues, playing sports, and meditation help replenish my energy.
2. Alternate intervals of high focus and intensity, with periods of deep relaxation. I’ve never found multitasking to be very productive. I’m unable to focus on a specific task and, as a result, nothing gets done and I have 4-5 unfinished items sitting in front of me. I prefer to work an hour and a half straight on one task, followed by a break where I get up from my desk, walk my white lab, Lily, or go for a coffee with a colleague. I call these 90 minute intensive sprints. Not only does this help me focus, it’s also where I produce my best work.
3. Revitalize your energy rather than recharge it. I’m a fan of analogies and I believe this is the perfect place to use one. When you use up a battery, you can recharge it, but, the more often you recharge it, the shorter the battery life gets. When you feel drained of your own battery life, rather than finding short-term solutions to “recharge” your energy, find something that truly revitalizes it, or in other words, find a source that creates more energy. Tai chi is something that I’ve been practicing for years now, and it always grounds me to the concept of managing the different types of energy levels that I have—emotional, physical, and mental.
4. Use technology to get organized and refreshed. There are some great apps out there that I’ve found to be quite useful. Here are some of my favourites:
Omnifocus is a tool I use to track priorities, tasks, and deliverables.
ActiveInbox helps me keep my 1000+ emails per month in check, while keeping track of follow-ups and deadlines.
Elevate is a brain training tool that gives you three exercises a day to increase your focus and cognitive ability, and using it has allowed me to integrate it into my daily habits.
Headspace is also a great app that helps me maintain my balance. I use it before going to bed and find that it helps me relax thoroughly and fall asleep faster.
5. Build good habits. When you’re unfamiliar or uncomfortable with certain scenarios, you exert more energy in making decisions and/or completing those tasks. Building habits takes discipline, but when you get into a routine and develop healthy habits, you save the amount of energy you would’ve exerted and can put it towards other situations.
The above ways have been immensely helpful when running my own business.
Similar to running a marathon, if you use all of your energy at the beginning where everything is exhilarating, you trade-off a good start for losing the race. There won’t be any momentum to keep yourself going!
I’m not saying I have it all figured out—there are still days where I feel completely drained, but these tips help me stay grounded amidst all of the noise from the roles I’ve taken on.
What do you find takes up the most amount of energy in your life, and how do you recharge? I’d love to hear about any tips and advice you have to share!