Life can be hectic and time slows down for no one. Discover 4 practical ways to harness your energy so you can make better use of your time.
The sun has just risen and your eyelids are heavy. You so badly want to hit that snooze button for a second time, but you know that losing even just ten more minutes out of the next twelve hours would make an already challenging day ahead– more difficult. There’s no time for breakfast, so coffee and a donut it is. You’ll jump on a conference call in the car and work on your way to work. Once you arrive, the only thing that will cause you to look up from your many tasks at hand is a text message from your child, reminding you that tonight is soccer practice. But it doesn’t end there, does it? What about making dinner and helping with homework? And let’s not forget the dreadful end-of-day clean up! There are 24 hours in a day, 168 in a week and none of them ever seem to be just for you and your needs.
Naturally, you’re exhausted and living for the weekend just isn’t cutting it anymore. You fear burnout is imminent. So what do you do? Do you speak to your family about restructuring your schedules and activities? Do you tell your boss that your workload is too great? Do you book an appointment with your therapist or leadership coach to discuss coping strategies? Most commonly, the call that is placed is to none other than the ever-loyal, ever trusting, ever-dependable… travel agent. Can you say, ‘Hola Amigo! Una cerveza por favor!?’
Believe me, we get it; life is hectic! And vacationing is one way to recharge those nearly drained batteries. With the sun in your eyes and sand between your toes, you can finally exhale. Whoosah! Time, at last, has slowed its pace.
Truly, I hate to pop this picturesque daydream bubble, but I must ask, what will happen upon your return from this relaxing vacation? How long before life’s events resume their quick pace and you become exhausted again? I propose to you a novel idea: We have enough time all of the time. There are enough hours in a day and enough opportunities to reach our goals. What we’re actually lacking is energy and a level of consciousness to effectively dispense that energy in a way that will truly meet our needs.
This blog endeavours to align you with time by putting you in control of your energy. By the end of this article, you will better understand how to manage your energy and make the best use of your time.
Time and Energy: A Fine Balance
It is completely normal to want to take on more activities and increase our level of challenge as we strive for the next best thing in life. With that in mind, there are only so many goals that can be accomplished in a set time, and because we cannot change linear time, let’s change how we view time and better manage the energy we have.
Before approaching a task, ask yourself the following questions:
- What type of energy do I need, to complete this task? (relaxed, calm, excited, focussed, peaceful?)
- What needs will be met upon completion of this task?
“How will I feel when this task is completed?”
Honouring the time and energy required to complete a task will result in a feeling of satisfaction and peace especially when you are presented with tasks that compete for your time.
1. Let Go of Time Control
We have to make peace with the fact that there are 24 hours in a day and not a moment more. To take on more than we can handle is counterproductive because we end up spreading ourselves too thinly across an array of tasks instead of using our time to complete the most meaningful ones. Respecting the structure of linear time and working within those boundaries will help us to manage our expectations of what can be accomplished in a day’s time. It’s better to work in harmony with the clock than to fight it.
2. Assess Your Energy Levels
The saying “we are nothing without our health” is fitting because if we do not regularly maintain our energy levels, our bodies will begin to breakdown. If we are unwell, accomplishing goals will increasingly brain our energy. When we do not honour our energy levels, stress, anxiety, insomnia, and a lowered immune system can be expected. Irritability and burnout may also follow. And resting once a year during vacation time cannot undo the damage done to one’s health. Instead, make it your goal to rest well, eat well and exercise (even moderately) each day.
3. Engage in Self-Reflection
Deciphering which task should be approached first can create an uncomfortable tension within us and living in this state of conflict leads to more wasted time and energy. Can you think of a time when you went back and forth over which direction to take? One thing that is certain, however, stressed you were, eventually, you made a decision. My goal is to help you to come to that decision in a more efficient and easeful way.
Let’s consider an example in which you have two competing tasks of equal importance and time is of the essence. Perhaps you find yourself in a position where you have to choose between taking a much-needed break and working through your lunch. You have competing needs here. One is for health/wellness in the form of nourishment and mental clarity, and the other, you believe, is to please your boss, but is the latter true? It might surprise you to find that the deeper need is for contribution as a result of honouring a commitment. So, then, how will you choose which need to meet? Nourishment or contribution? The practice of self-reflection will help you to decipher not only what your true needs are but which need is most pressing. It can be hard to prioritize your needs when there is work to be done but your belly rumbles are registering as a 7.5 on the Richter Scale. Grrrr!
In a coaching session, we asked 3 of our clients who were faced with this very conflict what they chose to do and here are the three responses:
- One chose to take a lunch break because he needed the mental clarity and food energy to complete his commitment.
- The other chose to take 25 minutes for her health by going for a brief walk in the fresh air. Upon returning, she ate at her desk and reported feeling refreshed as she resumed her task.
- Another client chose to work through her lunch. She was hungry and tired but got the work done.
So long as your most pressing need has been addressed, there is no right or wrong choice. The level of consciousness that is attained through self-reflection will enable you to shift your mindset from a state of to-do to a state of to-be, ensuring that you experience the least amount of internal conflict and time-wasting as possible.
4. Create a Daily To-Be List
Having one long and ongoing to-do list isn’t as beneficial as personalizing one for each day that will address your needs. The reason being is that our needs are constantly evolving and it is impossible to know what performed action will best serve us a week or a month from now. Make it a practice to, each day, ask yourself, “What are the most important needs that I would like met, today?” This form of daily conscious conversation will allow you to prioritize your needs and effectively expend your energy in places that will leave you feeling most satisfied. Say, for instance, cleaning the gutters is an important task on your to-do list but, today, your boss has asked you to complete a last-minute proposal. Oh! And you also promised your children that you would spend time with them after work. There are only X amount of hours left in the day. What to do? Find out what your needs are. Do you feel the need to contribute and grow your competence at work? Is a storm coming, thus, rendering cleaning the gutters a matter of safety? When last did you spend uninterrupted time nurturing your family? Only you can decide what is a priority for you.
Peace At Last
So friends, let us stop romanticizing the past and living for the weekend; all of that time travelling is tiring, wouldn’t you agree? It’s high time we put down the boxing gloves, throw in the towel, and stop fighting the clock because life is much more pleasant when we aim to live in harmony with all that which cannot be changed. Let us strive to be at peace with our present dwelling space and muster that vacation energy every day of the week!
What is your experience of time, now that you have balanced time and energy?