In view of the pleasantly gloomy weather where I am right now and coupled with the fact that it’s Monday, I thought this was a rather helpful post to begin the week with!
Matthew E. May shares insights from Tony Schwartz, CEO of The Energy Project‘s 2004 bestselling book, The Power of Full Engagement. The book talks about how the working world is facing a new kind of energy crisis – that of human energy. It explores how human beings aren’t designed to operate like computers—at high speeds, continuously, running multiple programs at the same time—even though this is the “basic reality” for all of us. As a consequence, we have become increasingly distracted, exhausted and demoralized, especially in a recession-driven world that forces us to get more done with fewer resources.
On the contrary, human beings are designed to pulse, to move between spending and renewing energy to meet our four key needs: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. So May distills 10 tips for us to work on (I know there are many I really need to work on from here already!):
- Make sufficient sleep your highest priority. After breathing, sleeping is our most fundamental need. It’s also the first thing we’re willing to give up in an effort to get more done. Begin quieting down at least 30 minutes before you go to sleep. Avoid anything stimulating, such as the Internet, mysteries, and intense conversations. Wind down with mellow music, a bath, or herbal tea.
- Exercise begins with the First Step. If you’re struggling to find the time or motivation to start an exercise routine, buy a pedometer and record the number of steps you take every day. Shoot for 10,000—the recommended daily number of steps to ensure you are getting enough movement in your day to be fit.
- Prioritize your tasks the night before. The number of potential distractions, interruptions, and fatigue tends to increase throughout the day. Do the most important work of your day first, before checking email, if possible.
- Become a Type A Eater. Decide in advance what you’re going to eat, in what portions, and at what intervals. That’s the best way to avoid endless temptations, unconscious cues, and “that-looks-good!” surprises that override our self-discipline and cause us to veer off track.
- Breathe deep. If you feel negative emotions coming on, or when you feel frustrated, annoyed, or anxious, simply take a few deep breaths. Extend the exhale to decrease your physiological arousal and quickly restore a sense of calm.
- Give Thanks. Write a note of appreciation to someone in your life once a week. We’re far quicker to notice what’s wrong than to celebrate what’s right in others. You might be surprised to discover how energized and inspired people are when they feel recognized and appreciated.
- Log Off Your Email. Try turning off your email completely for at least one hour a day. Use that time to devote your full attention to a significant task or larger challenge you’re facing.
- Daydream for Breakthroughs. Schedule at least one half-hour a week to brainstorm around some issue at work. You can help access your right hemisphere by doodling, listening to instrumental music, going for a long walk—anything that lets your mind wander.
- Take a break. Taking time to renew every 90 minutes keeps your body in alignment with its natural rhythms. Much as we cycle through stages of sleep at night, so we go through a similar cycle every 90 minutes throughout the day, moving from a state of higher energy slowly down into fatigue.
- Accentuate the Positive. Make a list of activities that you enjoy most and that make you feel best. Intentionally schedule at least one of these activities into your life each week.