January 2008 – Vol. V, Issue 1
Feature Article: Face Your Personal Energy Crisis
Short on energy recently? Not only are we facing an energy crisis in North America because of the increasing price of fossil fuels, individuals in our society are facing a kind of personal energy crisis. The tendency is to run nonstop during the day, fueling the pace by adrenaline, sugar and caffeine. In the evening, because energy levels have crashed, the tendency is to vegetate in front of one screen or another until we eventually lie down in bed for a less than restful night’s sleep.
Maybe you’re not as bad off as the bleak picture we just considered. Good for you! Take a look at how you can use your energy to get the best possible return.
For the rest of you, it’s time to take some measured steps so that you’re experiencing a more natural energy flow and using your energy in the most effective way.
The first step is to begin to fuel your body with clean-burning fuels. Decrease the highly processed foods, like refined sugar and flour, that give you a temporary high and then leave you crashing after they’ve quickly burned away. Break from the addiction of caffeine. Eat a well-balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and good fats. In other words, a high-octane, clean-burning fuel will keep your engine running at peak performance.
Then, take a look at how you’re spending your time during the day. Do you feel “busy” all the time, but at the end of the day have difficulty identifying what you produced? If so, chances are you are running on adrenaline and jumping on all of the proximate, pressing matters that Stephen Covey calls “Quadrant III.” These are the things that are urgent, but not important. You are spinning your wheels! Begin to make time for Quadrant II activities (important, but not urgent). You know what these are; they are the activities you want to get to day after day, but just don’t. There are so many benefits to spending time in Quadrant II, but one great benefit is that you are preventing urgent and important Quadrant I activities and eliminating as many Quadrant III activities as possible.
Take time during your day for small snatches of self-renewal. Take a break by closing your eyes, relaxing your shoulders, rotating your ankles, stretching up to the ceiling, or whatever else will get your blood flowing. Take a walk around the building. I wrote about mini self-renewal breaks way back in 2004. Feel free to refresh your memory.
Take stock of energy patterns. As you cut out artificial fuels, you will have a more natural ebb and flow of energy throughout your day. There will naturally be times during the day when you feel more energetic than others. Pay attention to patterns–what are your high-energy times? When do you find it easiest to concentrate on mental tasks? When do you feel at your best physically?
Match your energy to activities to get the biggest return. If you noticed that you feel great physically in the morning, that’s a great time for exercise. If your mind quiets down and can easily focus on mental tasks at 11:00 a.m., that’s a great time to preserve for key projects. If you find yourself dragging a bit in the early afternoon, that’s a great time for a break, a snack, or another activity that regenerates your energy. Also, pay attention to whether you are an introvert or an extrovert. If being with other people drains you, you’re an introvert and a solo activity will refuel your energy. If being with other people energizes you, you’re an extrovert and connection recharges your batteries! Extroverts may find that picking up the phone to make networking calls in a low-energy time will be just what the doctor ordered.
So, remember these simple questions:
Break those habits that are causing your personal energy crisis, and start making your days crisp and refreshing rather than muddling through them in a haze. Your body and mind, not to mention your personal productivity, will thank you!