Over the past few months, I have been working very hard. It started innocently enough. I was working 3 days a week and was managing work and life in nice balance. Over time, as my projects increased, I found I was dedicating more and more time at work. 3 days became 4 days, and then 5 days. 8 hours turned to 12 hour days. I found myself telling my family, “I just need to make it through August,and then things will be fine”. And the following month, “I just need to make it through September, and then I will stop working so hard”. It became a bit of a joke in our family! And there were consequences to what I was doing. While I was doing great things at work, I was tired every night. Too tired to spend with family. Too tired to go to Jamatkhana. Too tired to write posts. And to Shayne’s chagrin, too tired to work out.
I have discovered a concept that is helping me to rebalance my life. It is about understanding the difference between managing time and managing energy. For the longest time, I believed that as long as I managed time well, everything would get done. It was about working efficiently, multi-tasking and being productive all the time. The problem with this line of thinking is that life gets busier and in the process of meeting deadline after deadline, I find myself fatigued, overwhelmed and unfulfilled.
The solution is managing our energy, rather than our time. Time is outside of ourselves. It is finite. The number of hours are fixed at 24 hours. Energy, on the other hand, is within us and so we have direct access to it. And when we learn how to balance and renew our energy, we are able to manage – and even thrive – in the frantic pace of our world today. When we harness our energy, we are less likely to feel the pain and struggle of our daily lives. This concept is explained in a book I am currently reading, The Power of Full Engagement, by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. They have done extensive work with top athletes and have found that athletes who learn how to manage their energy can endure high performance and lead happy, healthy and balanced lives. Click here for a self-assessment of your energy profile.
So, how does one manage one’s energy? According to the authors, it is about balancing and renewing the four key sources of energy — physical, emotional, mental and spiritual — to get things done more efficiently, and with more enjoyment. Balancing energy is about making time to rest, relax, have fun, play, connect with others and connect within. The key is to find rituals and activities to do this in short bursts every day.
Physical energy is about good quality and quantity of sleep. It is about good nutrition to have balanced blood sugar levels throughout the day so we can be productive and perform well. It is about eating food that is good for us. It is about taking time to exercise.
Emotional energy is about enjoying life so we can perform at our best. It is about accessing positive and uplifting emotions, looking for opportunities and adventure, and feeling inspired. It is about appreciating and recognizing others.
Mental energy is about mindfulness. About quieting the mind. About reflecting and meditating. When we do this, we renew our mental capacity, expand our thinking and enhance our mental energy so we can come up with new ways of thinking.
Spiritual energy is to connect and align with our spiritual being so that we can access our gifts and talents. According to the authors, when we are aligned with our spiritual energy, it directly flows and replenishes our mental, physical and emotional energy sources.
I am consciously working on managing my energy and am getting better at doing this every day. The biggest difference I have noticed is that I am happier about what I am doing. The pace and workload have not changed, but I have changed how I respond to it. Rather than cramming everything and trying it get it all done right now, I am taking the time to access the energy available to me. I slow down. I play. I enjoy the experience and being in the moment. I talk to people. I laugh. I rest. Life has become a lot more fun – and I am getting the results I want.