Your personal energy bible
Your personal energy bible
Manage your energy levels to fuel your plans, steps and concentration
The feeling of holding back in your plans because the energy in your body is just flowing out instead of flowing in happens more often than you might think. According to my research, 45.8% of the woman and 47.6% of the men experience this.
But where does that energy come from? And how can we influence it to get everything out of it?
Let’s start with some basic information. Most of us will have heard of our BIOLOGICAL CLOCK. It regulates our 24-hours physical rhythm. It is the most important rhythm for our physical, mental and behavioural well-being. Did you know that it exists of specific molecules in your entire body that influences these rhythms every single day?
Some of the important functions that are managed by these rhythms involve our sleep, our eating and food processing, the temperature of our body and even our hormones!
Did you know that when you didn’t get enough sleep during the night, you might get urges to eat during the day, because your body is craving for energy? The weird thing is, the real physical need wasn’t actually food but in rest and recovery.
In this blog, I will explain more about our energy and give tips about how to influence it. Some professionals argue that we are supposed to manage our energy and not our time. My personal opinion is that we need a little bit of both, but here I will focus on just one of the two.
Find out more about time management in your personal time bible.
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Resources: NIGMS (2020). Fact sheet: Circadian Rhythms. Retrieved via NIGMS
Schwartz, T. & McCarthy, C. (2007). Manage your energy, not your time. Retrieved via Harvard Business Review
Richardson, M.W. (2019). How much energy does the brain use? Retrieved from Brainfacts.org
American Psychological Association Helpcenter (2020). What you need to know about willpower: the psychological science of self-control. Retrieved from APA Helpcenter
Energy givers vs Energy takers
I get it, a lot of what Entreprenality can teach you takes energy before it produces the new fuel. So, I’m here to help you understand why that is absolutely worth it.
Funny enough this first part is not actually about energy. Our brain uses about 20% of the body’s energy and that’s when it’s at rest. When you are working on something, the part of the brain that is involved will need an increased amount of energy. But this increase will only be about 8% at most and only for those specific regions.
The real reason you feel like you lack energy is actually due to another resource: our willpower.
So, if it is not physical energy, what is it? Willpower is basically the ability to control your behaviour with a certain goal or outcome in mind. Think about resisting temptation, social interactions and maintaining a healthy diet. According to researchers, your brain might actually function differently when you have used your willpower often. This has to do with activity in certain brain regions. This activity in your brain may cause the fuel (glucose) in your brain to finish up quicker than it can be replaced. And then there’s also the influence of mood and our believes about willpower. Positivity can be a buffer for the willpower depletion.
When we are working towards our goals, we often have to learn new things and unlearn familiar things. We might have to learn how we can make vegetables taste better and stop eating a lot of crisps and candy, while something inside of us is telling us that it’s just easier to keep things the way they were.
Not giving in to that voice, that is willpower. And to use this inner resource you need a certain focus on yourself. You need to make yourself able to check if your behaviour is truly in line with your goals. When those goals come from within you (intrinsic motivation) you will already be one step ahead. You will not only be more motivated but also more capable to guide your behaviour in the right direction via your willpower.
On the other hand, the more you are distracted from yourself, the easier your willpower finishes up and the more your focus tends to shift away. This increases the chance for distractions and a fall back into old habits.
And now more PRACTICAL, these aspects will help you maintain your willpower:
- A positive mood and mindset
- Creating time and reserving energy for what really matters in your life (what do you find really important?)
- Adopt what matters to you into the tasks and activities that you have to do and make those tasks valuable (to boost intrinsic motivation). This will increase your positive energy, your focus and your perseverance.
- Know your personal values and incorporate them into your daily life as much as you can
- Specify your direction and your goal and find something that could remind you of what you are aiming for (the right music, inspirational movies, a quote, a picture, …)
Managing your energy, what does that mean exactly?
Managing energy basically means consciously choosing how we want to use our energy. So, practically the same definition as time management, only with a different factor. The “managing” part is all about knowing what is important to us and giving it the energy (and time) that it needs and deserves.
When talking about energy, it is also important to have a basic knowledge about how your energy flows during the day. Think about being distracted for example. This is a challenge for many people. When you know the conditions in which you get distracted easily (like getting tired), you can anticipate it. Maybe you will realize that having a break, some food or the right music can bring you back on track. To know this, it starts with generating insights about your own flow of energy.
Charlie Gilkey, a creative giant (love that term!), describes the BEST TOOL on this topic: heat mapping. It’s a visual “map” in which you get insight into your own daily energy rhythm. By using a few basic colours, you create one insightful overview about 1) the times you are most productive/creative, 2) the times your focus is very scarce and it is very hard to work on anything and 3) the stages in between. So, definitely check out his blog!
Now, here’s the addition to the heat mapping. When you know about your energy flow, you’re not there yet. Below I have provided a couple of questions that will guide you to a more specific and solid (and personalized) strategy for managing your energy.
Are you ready?
- What tasks require productive and creative energy?
- What tasks require some level of mental alertness, but don’t require the very productive/creative kind of type?
- What tasks can you do with a low level of energy?
- What lifts up your spirit (and energy) and will give you a new drive and renewed motivation?
- What drains you of your energy? Can you remove these energy eaters? If not, what could be a good way to deal with them?
From here it is time to modify your planning! And possibly also your planning strategies. Knowing these insights will come to a positive effect when you leverage them in your routine. That’s why I love the combination of energy- and time management!
Talking about energy eaters…
What relationship do you have with your emotions? It can be a tough one, I know…
I used to hate my emotions so much, that I did my level best to push them completely aside. Managing quite well at that, it did also made me realize that living without emotions is not the answer. Not only is it impossible to banish them, but we also NEED them. More than you might know…
First things first. I’d like you to know that I included this topic for your energy bible because it can both drain your energy and unlock energy that not all of us had the privilege to experience. YET. Would you like to learn more? KEEP READING!
Alright, so we NEED emotions. We need them with the very reason for the way they guide us through life. The better we treat them, the better they will guide us. There is one problem though. Emotions can feel like a pain in the ass and often we don’t like them. And things we don’t like create a certain response from us. Whether emotions are a good guide or a terrible pain in the ass, DEPENDS on that response.
Would you like to learn how to get the right energy from your emotions?
Step 1: Become aware of the situation that triggers the emotion.
Step 2: Take a few deep breaths and focus on a slow exhale of about five or six seconds. This will help you relax and slow down your first reaction. Keep in mind that your first reaction could be a fight-or-flight response that denies you to think clearly (that’s where those reactions come from that we come to regret later).
Step 3: What emotion is triggered? And even more importantly: WHY? Listen to your emotion on a deeper level and find out what it’s really about.
Are you ANGRY? There might be something going on that you don’t like. How can you influence the situation in a calm matter to change things in a respectful way?
Are you SAD? Something is triggered that is of great importance to you. What is important? What do you need at this moment?
Are you AFRAID of something? What are you protecting yourself from? How can you create safety?
Step 4: What are the FACTS of the situation? And what are your INTERPRETATIONS? We can be very tempted to put ourselves in the role of the victim, blame the other person or blame something outside of ourselves. Try to change the story you tell yourself by realizing the facts of the situation.
Step 5: Make a conscious decision for your response. Is there an aspect you want/can solve? And keep in mind: emotions don’t always search for a solution. Sometimes they just want to be heard and that’s okay.
Step 6: Benefit from the side effect of not regretting your reaction. Regret is an extra emotion on top of the original one and will only increase the amount of energy (okay, so this is actually your willpower) needed for processing them.
Another option (when you feel good yourself), is to make someone else feel good too. Show your appreciation to someone else. Let them know they are valued and especially for what (and make this personal and specific!). You will notice that this will give you a great feeling as well!