If your body had a fuel tank like a car, what would your tank say? Is it full? Half a tank? Almost Empty? Beeping at you with red lights because it’s so empty? Take a moment to think about how full is your personal energy fuel tank.
Listen at work and you might hear a colleague or friend say: “I’m so tired but I’ve got so much work to do, I just can’t stop for lunch” or “I worked all weekend” or “I feel so depleted”. These are all flashing lights that your fuel tank is moving towards empty. Clearly, sometimes we just have to push through a big project, but can we push smarter and think more intentionally about our energy?
Harvard Business Review published an article titled Manage your Energy Not Your Time by Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy. They work with the Energy Project which states that 74% of employees are experiencing an energy crisis. In the Manage your Energy article they write…
“To effectively reenergize workforces, organizations need to shift their emphasis from getting more out of people to investing more in them, so they are motivated—and able—to bring more of themselves to work every day. To recharge themselves, individuals need to recognize the costs of energy-depleting behaviors and then take responsibility for changing them, regardless of the circumstances they’re facing.”
The Energy Project advocates for companies to invest in employees’ core needs “so they’re freed, fueled and inspired to bring more of themselves to work every day.”
One way to take responsibility for our own energy is to know our top strengths AND activate them towards the tasks or relationships at hand. For example, let’s say one of your top strengths is having honest conversation with your closest colleagues and friends. Consider building your day around activating this strength. Perhaps, start your day with a meaningful conversation. Next, spend some time doing a task that may not be as energizing but don’t plow through the rest of the day on that task. Break your day up by activating some of your other strengths. For example, perhaps another strength is problem solving. Take a break for the low energy activity and get recharged by working a tricky problem your team is facing. I encourage people to plan their days in these waves of high and lesser energy.
Imagine a big wave crashing on the beach- tons of energy is released. Thats you using one of your top strengths, high energy and performance. Now imagine a break in the surf; calmer water. This is you doing a task that may not be as high of energy for you. Stay with the task for no more than an hour and then shift to a high energy strength and activity.
Riding the waves of energy throughout your day is one way to take responsibility for your energy. And by all means, take the Energy Project’s advice…work together to set limits around work, good rest, exercise and proper nutrition.
Try refueling your energy tank more intentionally every day. See what happens to your energy during the day if you strategically position high energy and high performance activities throughout your day.
Happy Surfing and enjoy being “freed, fueled and inspired”.