2nd Jan, 2018
“Manage your energy, not your time.” – Tony Schwartz
This is the quote that made Tony Schwartz, an American journalist and author, famous. It is easy to say, but managing your energy can be very difficult. It takes a lot of time and dedication to manage your energy and to truly make a big difference in your life, it takes a change in viewpoint and a change in lifestyle.
According to Mr. Schwartz, who co-wrote a book called The Way We're Working Isn't Working: Fueling the Four Needs that Energize Great Performance, our energy can be broken down in 4 parts:
- Your physical energy
- how healthy are you?
- Your emotional energy
- how happy are you?
- Your mental energy – how well can you focus on something?
- Your spiritual energy – why are you doing all of this? What is your purpose?
There is a very distinct line between activities and people that contribute to your energy in a positive way, and those that sap it. Imagine installing sophisticated heating and cooling systems in a house and leaving all of the windows wide open. No matter how you ran around frantically adjusting thermostats, the temperature would just do what it wanted regardless. Sadly, this is what we commonly do: we manage our time, but allow energy to leak through the windows of our lives. By spending time in energy draining activities, by surrounding ourselves with energy vampires, by failing to engage in the sleeping, eating, and exercising activities that could energize us, we live life in low energy and miss out on our own lives.
If the overriding priority in your life was to keep yourself at a maximum level of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual energy. What would you be doing to maintain that state? What would you eliminate from your life to stay at your peak? The answer to a leaking gas tank is not to fill up your car every few hours. A much better, less expensive, effective, efficient and permanent solution is to repair the gas tank.
Your physical energy – how healthy are you?
Your physical energy naturally serves as the base of the other 3 energies, but often it is the most ignored energy in our daily lives.
Food is your fuel. And yet, so many of us neglect to pay much attention to what we eat every day. Most of us base too much of our diet on breakfast, lunch and dinner and get a spiked pattern of ups and downs in our blood sugar levels throughout the day. Here are a few tips to try to even out.
- Reorganize your cupboard: Researcher Brian Wansink demonstrated in a surprising experiment that “You are 3 times more likely to eat the first thing you see in your cupboard than the fifth thing you see.” If you put healthy things within sight and the not so healthy choices further back, you will naturally eat healthier
- Carbs in the morning, fat and protein after that: This is something bodybuilders have been practicing for a long time and it applies equally for anyone trying to feel more energetic. Giving your body carbohydrates (quick energy) in the morning will give you all the fuel you need to get going. Move more towards protein and fats towards after that so your body can have the long lasting, smoother energy during the day and into the night.
- Doing nothing else while eating: It seems natural to watch TV, work, read or something else productive while we eat. However, the latest research on multitasking however reveals the exact opposite. Solely focusing on eating doesn’t just help you digest your food better, it also makes you a more efficient worker while you are performing other tasks.
- Working on your fitness level doesn’t just come with great health benefits, but can serve as a powerful catalyst to change your life into the one that you have wanted. After you have a consistent fitness habit, you are ready to tackle any other challenge. Incorporating fitness into your life can help you have more energy, be happier and more productive. You'll feel better about yourself and therefore have more confidence.
Zeo is a sleep tracking app that has been tracking the way people sleep since 2003. for its users. The research on sleep shows that if the amount of sleep you get drops below these levels, it changes our cognitive functions entirely. This is what the data looks like on average:
The problem is that we often don’t know that we aren’t getting enough sleep and the consequences can cost us. There are several sleep tracking devices available that are simple and quite inexpensive. Many of them track many other aspects of good health. Deep sleep serves as the most important element in your sleeping phase for renewing your brain cells and body cells.
Tony Schwartz talks about this last part as one of the most overlooked elements of our lives. To better manage your renewal throughout the day, here are 2 quick ideas to help you get started:
- Take a nap, every day. Being able to nap is the most important part for getting daily renewal in. Every day after lunch, lie down on the sofa in your office, in your car, or wherever you can. Hold my car keys in your hand and let your hand hang toward the floor. When the car keys fall out of your hand, you're done.”
- Read. Just 30 minutes of relaxing reading will help you wind down and relax after lunch and before your nap. This is a time where you are likely not going to be very productive, it is a great way to catch up and get daily renewal.
- Meditate. Another fantastic way to get more renewal throughout the day is to develop a meditation habit. Meditation actually gives you more time by making your mind calmer and more focused. A simple ten or fifteen minute breathing meditation can help you to overcome your stress and find some inner peace and balance. There are many different types of meditation, but here is a simple outline of breathing meditation.
- Stop distractions and clear your mind. This can be accomplished by practicing a simple breathing meditation. Choose a quiet place to meditate and sit in any comfortable position, even in a chair. It is important to keep your back straight to keep from becoming sleepy.
- Sit quietly with your eyes partially and comfortably closed and turn your attention to your breathing. Breathe naturally, preferably through your nostrils, without attempting to control your breath. Focus on the sensation of your breath as it enters and leaves your body. This sensation is the object of your meditation. Try to concentrate on your breathing to the exclusion of everything else.
- At first, your mind will be very busy, and you might even feel that the meditation is making our mind busier. In reality you are just becoming more aware of how busy and chaotic your mind actually is when you are not paying attention. There will be a great temptation to follow the different thoughts as they arise, but resist this and remain focused single-pointedly on the sensation of the breath. If you discover that your mind has wandered and is following other thoughts, gently return it to the breath. Repeat this as many times as necessary until your mind settles on the breath.