When you think of energy management, you might think of this standard definition: “Energy management is planning and operation of energy production and energy consumption units.”
But what about energy management in people?
A human’s capacity for energy is finite; a fact that many of us ignore. We work for long hours, telling ourselves that as long as we have caffeine or motivation, our energy will go on and on.
To achieve maximum productivity, you must manage your energy. That’s the message of Allison Green Schoop, associate strategy director at global design firm frog.
So how do you manage your energy? Look at it as sprints and recovery. We all know we are going to have big sprints — that’s what makes pursuing a project or business so exciting. The balance between sprints and recovery is key in being your most productive.
To Manage the Sprints:
Monitor your energy levels. We all have different internal rhythms: Some of us are night owls, while others’ brains shut down after 10 p.m. To find out what time of day your energy levels are at their peak, try setting your smartphone to beep every hour and note what you’re doing, how your energy is and what might have affected it, such as whether you just ate a huge, carb-heavy lunch. At the end of a week, assess your notes and look for patterns.
Don’t force it. Once you know your natural energy rhythms, try to honor them. If you experience a 3 p.m. slump every day, for example, trying to power through it will do more harm than good. You won’t be working efficiently, your results will be poor, and you’ll drain even more energy from your mind and body. Instead, during a slump time, try taking a quick walk or doing stretches in your office.
Adjust accordingly. You don’t have to be a slave to your energy levels, of course. Test different ways of energizing yourself, such as exercising, eating different foods, getting lots of water or sleeping more to find out what works best for you. One of my friends finally motivated herself to work out every morning when she realized that doing so eliminated the 3 p.m. slump that had plagued her for years.
To Make Room for Recovery:
Schedule it. No matter whether or not you think you need a break, schedule fun or relaxation activities in advance and stick to them.
Double the break you think you need. You might say, “Sure, I’ll take a break this evening— I’ll give myself a whole hour off!” Not good enough. Whatever the break you think you need, double it. You are most likely underestimating the toll that all of your hard work is taking on your body and mind — even if you’re having fun.
Enlist family and friends. If you schedule a weekend get-away with family or friends, you’ll have no excuse but to unplug. Family and friends can be great accountability buddies for taking the breaks you need.
Break down your biggest goals into achievable, measurable chunks and reward yourself often! For every day that you make a massive to-do list, add a “reward” item at the end that brings you joy.