Instead of trying to muscle your way through it, here’s how to maximize the energy you do have.
Even when your energy is lower than usual, there will be periods in the day when it is higher than others. It’s important to identify these times so you can plan for them.
How to Maximize Your Higher Energy Times
- Protect the time of day when you have the most energy. Use this time for the priorities that require your greatest mental acuity. Don’t schedule meetings or non-essential tasks during this time.
- Stop multi-tasking. Studies have repeatedly shown that when you multi-task, you have only the illusion of productivity. The reality is, you accomplish less and are less effective.
- Under-promise and over-deliver. As much as you might like to offer extra help, remember this is the time to conserve your energy so you can deliver on your high priority times. It’s harder to say “no” than to say “yes,” but keep in mind that it’s not possible to do it all and do it well. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.
- Focus on your priorities. It’s easy to confuse “urgent” and “important.” If you have a lengthy “to-do” list, categorize the items using the chart below. To maximize your energy when it is high, focus on the priority items in the upper left box.
- Relax and don’t beat yourself up for not being productive. Remember, winter is a natural time for hibernation.
Block out the times you know your energy will be lowest, and give yourself permission to relax and do some of the fun things you don’t usually have time for. Enjoy!
- This is a great time for reflection.
Focus on the items in your lower left box – “high priority, not urgent.” Too often these are things we don’t have time to think about because we’re too busy putting out fires. Low energy time is actually a great time for reflection. Since your brain isn’t functioning in high gear, you naturally move into a contemplative mode that is better suited for considering the bigger picture.
Instead of using your logical analytic mind to figure things out, begin by simply surfacing some really good questions. Then lightly hold these questions in your mind and wait awhile. Often the best answers arise when you are willing to hang out with the tough questions. And if nothing becomes clear, at least you will have a good starting point for focus when your energy returns.
- Try to reassign the things that are “urgent but not important.”
These are the kinds of things that cause you to waste your time putting out fires. Can you cross them off the list or at least put them on the back burner until you have more energy?
– Can someone else help with these?
– Can you set up a system to take care of some of these things?
– Can you move the deadline?
- Revisit your vision.
When you start to move back into high gear, you will be more focused and find it easier to identify priorities when you are clear about the larger vision they support.
If you haven’t created a vision, this is a great time to read Full Steam Ahead: Unleash the Power of Vision, which explains the three elements of a compelling vision and the steps to create one.