Why learning to manage your energy levels is as crucial as doing your job
Mar 22, 2022
When your phone runs out of battery, you plug it into the outlet so that it can charge and will continue to work. You probably don’t even think about what you are doing. But what about you as a person? How do you recharge your batteries? Do you know how important it is to maintain good energy levels to ensure great performance at work? Why do you feel sometimes as if you haven’t got much done over the course of the day even after working hard for hours? Allow us to explain what “energy management” is and how you can use it to your advantage.
Why managing your energy levels is important
Energy is a valuable resource that we don’t often take much notice of – or at least not in the way we should. In fact, when our workload becomes too much for us, instead of regulating our energy, we often respond by devoting more time to working. This can lead to physical, emotional and mental exhaustion, causing us to be more distracted and resulting in a weaker performance, as explained in the article Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time, published in the Harvard Business Review.
To ensure you don’t reach these levels or have to deal with burnout, Manel Fernandez Jaria, a professor at the Open University of Catalonia and a specialist in professional welfare and a coach to managers and teams, advises learning how to intentionally and consciously manage your energy. By doing this, “we bolster our emotional bond with the project, the team and leadership – as well as with the aim of what we’re doing,” he says.
Good energy management allows you to:
- Increase performance and productivity
- Be more creative
- Drive up participation and engagement with the company
- Get fully involved in your project and hit your goals
- Have a positive impact on the rest of the team
WFH: working remotely also requires energy management
As we all saw at the start of the pandemic, working from home can require radical changes to our lifestyle and habits. It doesn’t work for everyone either. Some take to it easily, while others struggle to adapt to the situation, putting in longer hours and ultimately seeing their wellbeing suffer as a result and their stress levels increase. As Fernandez explains, WFH “isn’t just a case of taking your laptop home, it requires taking a strategic approach and planning for every single aspect so that you can feel good and feel connected [to others].”
As the professor points out: being physically away from your colleagues, and often not having the appropriate technical resources too, can lead to the following:
- Technostress. This is stress derived from the inability to healthily manage and interact with new ICT technologies
- Inability to disconnect
- A sense of not contributing enough to the company
How to improve your energy management
To ensure you remain engaged and your energy levels don’t drop, there are several things you have to consider when tackling projects or doing your daily tasks.
Keep your lifestyle in check and… rest!
The first thing to think about when considering health and energy levels is getting a healthy diet and taking regular exercise. The latter favors the production of dopamine and helps to get rid of stress. You can incorporate movement into your day easily by walking to the office, taking calls while going for a stroll, using the staircase instead of the elevator or even working while standing up.
If you want to reduce stress and any difficulties concentrating that you may have, don’t forget to rest sometimes. Here’s how:
- Schedule work sessions of between 90-120 minutes interspersed with rest periods of 15-30 minutes.
- During these rest periods, don’t continue looking at a computer screen. Instead, go for a walk, get some fresh air, take some deep breaths and try to relax.
- In the evening, avoid looking at anything that might stop you from getting restful sleep, such as mobiles and tablets. Make sure to get enough sleep too.
Fernandez says it’s important to “check whether you’re really doing what you’ve set out to do or whether you’re just getting ‘bogged down’ with things that seem important but in reality aren’t and won’t help you make progress.” You need to get as far away as possible from “being bogged down” and as close as possible to “being focused.” To do this, Fernandez suggests distinguishing between three types of tasks and knowing how to distribute them correctly:
- Boulder tasks: Vital tasks that have to be done no matter what.
- Advancing tasks: These are tasks that help you reach your goals. You can temporarily overlook them, but you have to go back to them on a regular basis.
- Hippy tasks: Any task that is of a lighter or more fun nature such as checking social media or reading any content which may interest you.
“If you start the working day with hippy tasks, you’ll finish the day with no energy for tackling boulder tasks,” Fernandez explains. Therefore, start with any tasks that require greater concentration and attention, and avoid multitasking. It can be useful to identify the time of the day you tend to experience bursts of energy so that you can work on the most demanding tasks when you’re at your best.
Steer clear of energy drains
Do you put things off in the belief that you work better under pressure and with your nose up against a deadline? This doesn’t work, according to Fernandez. Procrastinating simply depletes your batteries and wastes precious time. To avoid this, stop putting things off and saying “I’ll do it tomorrow.”
Fernandez points to another three elements that drain energy, but can be common in the workplace: “Criticism, jealousy and complaining – three toxic elements that undermine projects and teams because they engage with people’s egos.” His advice is to steer clear of these. Putting forward ideas is much better than criticizing or complaining, he says, adding that it’s good to be aware of your decisions so you can be consistent and can focus your energy on what’s really important.
Manage your emotions
“Emotions such as fear and anxiety affect our performance. And that’s why it’s really important to work on those beliefs that hold us back,” he says. In other words, if you want to avoid burnout, you need to try to ditch negative thoughts such as “I’m not going to be successful” or “No one’s going to like my proposal.”
To take control, the coach recommends working on your self-belief and using tools to help you gain confidence such as sharing with others any small achievements or successes you have had.
Foster flexible thinking and connect with your inner self
To recharge your batteries, Fernandez says it is important to learn how to calm your mind. How can you do this? Through practices such as meditation, yoga and mindfulness, which “sounds like a fancy word, but really just refers to being in the present in order to see things with greater clarity,” Fernandez says.
As you can’t just plug yourself into the wall to recharge, these steps will help you achieve just what you need: to be more in tune with your body and to replenish your energy by learning how to control it so you can perform better. The most important thing is to continue nurturing your wellbeing in your personal life and the workplace.
Photo: Welcome to the Jungle
Translated by Jamie Broadway
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