Why Energy Is Everything

Energy Venn Diagram

To effectively reenergize yourself, you need to shift your emphasis to investing more in yourself. Hence, you stay motivated and bring more to the table. You need to recognize energy-depleting behaviors and then take active steps in changing them or deleting them altogether.

Energy is vital when you’re aiming for high productivity. If you look at successful people and ask them how they do it, they will always say energy is one of their main drives to success. As defined in physics as the capacity to work, energy comes from four primary sources in you: your body, emotions, mind, and spirit.

The Body

It is no news that improper nutrition, exercise, sleep, and rest affect your energy levels, emotional management, and focus. Nonetheless, you may be guilty of ignoring ways to practice healthy behaviors, given all the other demands in your life.

You may be skipping breakfast. Struggling to focus on one thing at a time. Failing to express appreciation to others. Or even spending too little time on activities that give you a sense of purpose. While it is not surprising that these behaviors are counterproductive, having them all listed in one place can become uncomfortable, sobering, and galvanizing. This may sound harsh, but it is actually a necessary first step to restoring your body’s energy.

The next step is to identify rituals for building and renewing physical energy. A vice president at Wachovia Bank, Gary Faro was significantly overweight, ate poorly, lacked a regular exercise routine, worked long hours, and typically slept no more than five or six hours a night.

Faro then began exercising with cardio and strength training. He also started to go to bed at a regular time and now sleeps longer. He changed his meals from two big ones a day to small meals every three hours. The aim was to stabilize his glucose levels over the day, avoiding peaks and valleys.

And the result?

Faro lost 50 pounds, and his energy levels soared.

Another way to restore energy is taking brief, regular breaks at specific intervals throughout the workday. We have “Ultradian rhythms,” which refers to 90- to 120-minute cycles during which our bodies swing through high and low-energy states. At the end of each cycle, the body needs to recover by being restless, yawning, hungry, and unfocused. Usually, this gets ignored and, in turn, burns down your energy reservoir faster. If done properly, intermittent breaks can increase and sustain performance. It is possible to recover well in a short time if it involves a ritual that allows you to separate yourself briefly from work and let your mind rest. Talk to a colleague about something other than work. Listen to music, or walk up and down a flight of stairs.

The Emotion

When you take more control of your emotions, you can massively improve the quality of your energy. To do this, you must become aware of how you feel at various times and its effect on your effectiveness.

People tend to perform best when they’re feeling positive energy and won’t perform well vice versa. Unfortunately, people tend to slip into negative emotions and trigger their fight-or-flight mechanism when met with relentless demands and unexpected challenges. The signs may be irritability, impatience, anxiety, and insecurity. These are big culprits in draining your energy.

One ritual for erasing negative emotions is “buying time.” Take deep abdominal breaths and exhale slowly for 10 seconds to relax, recover, and defuse your fight-or-flight response.

Expressing appreciation to others is a practice that is as beneficial to the giver as to the receiver. It can take the form of a handwritten note, an email, a call, or a conversation. The more detailed and specific the appreciation is given, the higher the impact. To achieve higher success at doing this, like any other rituals, set aside some time to do it.

Finally, you can change the stories you tell yourself about the events in your life. You see this often when people cast themselves in the role of a victim instead of being thankful for what they have.

This is powerful because you are more aware of the difference between the facts and how you interpret them. This may seem obvious, but you can actually discover that you have a choice about how to view something and recognize how powerful your story influences your emotions.

To change the perception to a story, you’ll want to view it through any of three alternatives, represented by lenses.

  • With the reverse lens, ask yourself what the others involved will truthfully say.
  • With the long lens, look at how the story impacts you in the future.
  • With the wide lens, ask yourself how you can improve and learn from this.

The Mind

Multitasking, while sounding and looking fantastic, actually undermines productivity. Temporary shifts in attention increase the amount of time to finish a single task by as much as 25%. You are likelier to be more efficient by entirely focusing on a single task for 90 to 120 minutes. Then, take a proper break, and move on to the next task. This focus and break cycle is called “Ultradian Sprints.”

Once you can see how much you struggle to concentrate, you can combat that by creating rituals to reduce the interruptions that bother you. Start out with an exercise that makes you face the impact of your daily distractions.

A real-life example is Dan Cluna, a vice president at Wachovia, who designed 2 rituals to increase focus. The first one is to leave his desk and go into a conference room whenever he has a task that requires concentration to stop distractions from phone calls. The result is that he finishes reports in a third of the time.

The second is by not answering any phone calls while in meetings. This is because it stretched the time of the meetings and cost him his full attention. He now only answers vmail messages in his downtime.

Instead of replying to your emails as soon as they come in, here’s another method: set a specific time of day to answer them. This actually can allow you to clear your inbox faster if you focus on your emails for 45 minutes at a time.

Another way to mobilize mental energy is to focus systematically on activities that impact you the most in the long term. Identify the most important challenge for the next day and make it your first priority when you start work in the morning. The To-Do Scout Planner is perfect for this.)

The Spirit

Your spirit is highest when your work and activities are consistent with what you value. If the work you’re doing truly matters to you, you will have more energy, focus, and perseverance to complete it.

However, the demands and pace of work-life don’t leave much space for these issues. Many don’t even know that meaning and purpose are potential sources of energy. When you experience the value of the rituals you establish, you can see that being attentive to your own needs influences their effectiveness and satisfaction at work.

Allow yourself to ask questions about what really matters to you. You will find that these will be both illuminating and energizing. This can be highly important and thoughtful because it will really make you aware of what you want.

To access the energy of the human spirit, you need to clarify priorities and establish rituals in three categories:

  1. Doing what you do best and enjoy most at work;
  2. Consciously allocating time and energy to the areas of your life, like work, family, health, service to others that you deem most important;
  3. And living your core values in your daily behaviors.

This is some of the science that has gone into the creation of the To-Do Scout Matrix. Using the planner will help you energize your life. Subscribe to our Newsletter and receive a 15% discount code.


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