For some reason, it’s drilled into our brains that working solidly for eight hours or more will increase your output, efficiency, and productivity, but really this couldn’t be more wrong.
A workplace study found that the average working professional experiences 87 interruptions in their regular work day, which means it’s hard to stay focused, productive, and energized for a full eight hours, if not impossible!
Here’s what they don’t tell you: If you want to re-energize your workplace, don’t put the emphasis on simply getting more out of your employees (OR yourself!). You need to focus on investing in you and your people. But if you do need to put in those extra hours regularly, be sure to make an effort to renew your energy.
That’s what I want to focus on with you today – the main sources of your energy and to maximize each of those areas.
I go over this and much more in my podcast, Productivity Paradox in episode 065. If you’re relating to what I’m talking about right here, I recommend giving it a quick listen – it’s only about 20 minutes!
Let’s get started talking about where our energy comes from!
Start with the obvious: make time to exercise, get more sleep and eat better. These are things we already know, but the question is, how do you get even more energy from these things and how can you realistically implement them?
I suggest setting an alarm for when you want to start getting ready for bed. iPhones now have the Bedtime section of the Clock app, where you can set up the time you’d like to get up and the amount of time you’d like to sleep, and it will notify you when you should go to bed. You can set this to be a little earlier if you’d like to use it as a signal to start your evening routine. A bedtime routine is a great way to signal to your body that it’s time for relaxation. I find that when people add a routine to the end of their day, they tend to fall asleep faster and deeper.
Use a little psychology to help yourself eat better… It’s not as easy as just telling yourself to just stop eating cookies (I wish it were so!). Try changing how you think about what you put in your mouth
Studies showed that when kids asked themselves “What would Batman eat?” they were far more likely to reach for apple slices over french fries. You don’t have to use Batman in your own question, it might instead be someone you admire who makes healthy choices. Whoever it is, you’ll find that about a third of the time it will be easier to make healthier choices.
This one isn’t as obvious for many people. Most people are mildly dehydrated most of the day, which causes overeating, mood swings, lethargy and brain fog. Stay hydrated by drinking a glass of water upon first waking up, every two hours throughout the day, and before each meal. Use your habit tracker to establish this habit – I’m amazed at how much better I feel… and how much better I eat when I’m hydrated.
Taking control of your emotions can improve the quality of your energy, regardless of the pressures you face.
To do this, you first have to become aware of how you feel at various points of your day and the impact these emotions have of your effectiveness.
Without intermittent breaks and recovery, we’re not capable of sustaining highly positive emotions for long periods of time. We tend to slide into negative emotions and our fight-or-flight mode multiple times a day.
One simple yet powerful habit for defusing negative emotions is deep abdominal breathing. Exhaling slowly for five or six seconds turns off the fight or flight response and creates a sense of relaxation and recovery.
The Energy Project taught this habit to Fujio Nishida, the president of Sony Europe, because he had a habit of lighting up a cigarette each time something “especially stressful” occurred – which happened at least two or three times a day. When he replaced this bad habit with deep breathing, he found he no longer had the desire for a cigarette. It wasn’t the smoking that had given him stress relief, but the relaxation prompted by the deep inhalation and exhalation.
Express appreciation for others. We already know that social connection is the best predictor of overall happiness, so it makes sense that expressing appreciation to others is a powerful habit that fuels positive emotions (and therefore energy).
I’ve set a goal for myself to write one unexpected thank you note a week to someone… this is not a thank you for a present, but a thank you to someone who has brightened my day. I’ve noticed that by doing this, I’m starting to feel an increase in my optimism and happiness.
This area mostly has to do with changing the way we concentrate on a task to reduce interruptions and cut multitasking out of the process.
Give your full attention to the task at hand – go to a quiet, non distracting place, turn off your phone and email notifications.
Change expectations. If you are the type to respond to emails mere minutes after they hit your inbox, you are setting expectations. Those people expect you to ALWAYS respond right away… we need to adjust that.
Let people know that you are checking email less frequently – and that you’ll respond within the same day, but you aren’t going to constantly be in your inbox.
In general, when teams implemented these types of changes, they completed their work in less time, finished projects under budget and feel more productive than ever.
Another great idea that will help fuel your mind is through meditation. You heard me talking about this in episode 64, so you know meditation can reduce stress, help you sleep better and improve your health. Remember, don’t force yourself to start with 20-minute meditation sessions, instead, start with regular, 3-minute sessions.
Even two or three minutes can have a substantial stress-reduction effect and is a great investment in yourself.
The energy of the human spirit comes from doing work that is fulfilling and gives you a sense of meaning and purpose. Work that matters to you will give you more positive energy, better focus and a greater perseverance. People want to make an impact.
You need to clarify your priorities and establish habits in three categories: doing what you do best and enjoy most at work, prioritizing time in areas of your life you feel are important (family, health, service to others, etc) and living out your core values in your daily behaviors.
This could include giving and doing things for others, getting approval and acceptance from others, anticipating an event you enjoy, learning new things, and having a variety of experiences at work and in your personal life.
If you are in a position of influence over others, either a manager or business owner, you can help encourage this spirit in your team.
One of the things I do for my team is called High Five Fridays. Each week, my customer happiness team collects the nice comments and emails we receive and on Friday, I have them send it out to everyone on my team. I do this because every member of my team is important, every one of them contributes to the mission and the vision behind my business. It’s important for them to see the role that they play. Many times the stories are incredibly impactful and show us that the work we are doing is making a difference. This is such an easy way for me to help encourage the spirit of my team.
The best way to invest in yourself is to get intentional about your time and your energy. I hope this post has given you a few ideas for how to get started or do a bit better in each area!
Remember… instead of working for hours and trying to battle through distractions and energy lows, take the hint that you need a break.
Leave me a comment below and tell me about these four different energy categories in your life: BODY, EMOTION, MIND, SPIRIT.
Do you feel that you’re lacking energy throughout the day and simply trying to put in more hours? What do you think you can start doing right now that will help? I would love to hear your suggestions or pain points so we can find solutions together.