We’re all familiar with the concept of a bank account. We know that if we spend more than is in our bank account, we run into problems. We also know that if we attempt to drive across the country, we need to have enough petrol in the car!
Somehow, though, we lose the plot a bit when it comes to considering how much energy we have. One of the biggest “A-ha!” moments I’ve ever had was when I learnt about the concept of our energy bank.
Here’s how it goes: if we make a withdrawal from our energy bank, we need to make sure we make a deposit too. If we don’t respect this basic law of nature, we get depleted and run-down. It’s logical really when you stop to think about it – especially when we take into account that going out with a fully charged phone is a non-negotiable for most of us!
Before my personal A-Ha moment, my own approach was just to get my head down and work through the tiredness and the low energy. Little did I realise back then that this approach actually delivers diminishing returns, not to mention a fast-track to poor health.
Our 24/7 lifestyles make us bend our minds and bodies to fit an unrelenting workday. Working from home doesn’t necessarily bring relief, as we may feel pressurised to be on email every waking moment.
Giving ourselves permission to bring a bit more balance into our day means we'll actually get MORE done and also help protect ourselves against burn-out, brain-fog and exhaustion. If we can acknowledge our natural rhythms, we’ll find ourselves functioning optimally, being more productive…and a whole lot happier to boot.
I used to think that off-time was wasted time. Now I know that off-time is an integral part of being “on”. We can only be fully “on” if we also allow ourselves to be fully “off”.
For most of my working life, if I found myself flagging at my desk, I’d give myself a shot of sugar and/or caffeine to perk myself up. These days, I know better than to try and artificially spike my energy when my brain is really calling out for a restorative break so that it can reboot itself.
I’m more attuned to the signs now: after a certain amount of time working, everything suddenly feels a lot harder and slower. That’s nature’s cue for me to take a break and recharge. So I’ll use the opportunity to have a stretch or tackle a task that’s easy on the brain, like tidying. Then I can come back a short time later to get another wodge of work done with a brain that is newly refreshed.
It’s a constant battle for me to balance my energy bank but I’m painfully aware that running low on energy can make me feel cranky and stressed. I try and make sure my diary is not too overscheduled as that sends me into a tailspin. I now know that if do something one day that takes a lot of energy, I need to schedule something the next day that restores the balance – such as a walk and some much-needed solitude (which is something I think most of us sorely lack).
A good place to start to manage your energy is to grab yourself a sheet of A4 paper and draw a line down the middle. On one side, list all the things that drain you of energy: it might be things like admin, responding to emails or doing the food shopping. On the other side, write down things that give you energy: it could be anything from playing with your dog to going out with friends.
Have a think about how you can reduce the amount of “energy-sucks” in your day…and how you can make more room for the things that light you up!