Everything we do takes energy, whether physical, emotional, cognitive, or (more often than not) a mixture of all three. The thing is, we only have a limited amount to last the day, which means if we aren’t careful about which tasks we undertake and the energy they require, we can quickly find our resources depleted, and our productivity slumping.
Most of us are probably more used to watching the battery power of our phones than our own energy reserves, and while recharging your energy levels isn’t quite as simple as plug-and-play, there are a few ways to keep you balanced. We’re going to take a look at why it’s essential to manage your energy before sharing our four methods for saving energy and being more productive at work.
Why Is Energy Management at Work and in Life Important?
Workplaces, managers, and all of us as individuals focus heavily on managing time, but perhaps we’d be better off if we watched the clock a little less and our energy levels a little more.
When you focus on deadlines or the time it takes to do a task, it’s far too easy to overlook the effort a task takes – the thought, emotion, or physical exertion a you have to put in to get the result you need. When you don’t consider the energy required of a task, you end up overworked and exhausted, which will eventually result in burnout.
To no surprise, this is happening all the time, with a survey last year finding that more than half of respondents were experiencing burnout in 2021.
So, what do you do?
Focus on managing energy instead of time! This reduces burnout since team members aren’t forced to expend more energy than they have to give. Furthermore, work in sync with energy levels. You can actually be more productive – think about how much quicker you complete a task when you’re feeling energetic, and often with better results as well.
How to Manage Your Energy Levels at Work
Managing energy levels at work, and in life, is an ongoing process, but once you get in the groove, you’ll soon reap the benefits. There are several different areas that you must focus on when managing energy levels, but in order to bring more balance and recharge your batteries at work, try:
- Getting enough sleep – it sounds simple enough, but around 70% of adults in America report that they get insufficient sleep at least once a month, with a massive 11% reporting insufficient sleep every night of the week!
- Reassess your diet – what you eat, and when you eat it, has a massive impact on your energy. Focus on small, balanced, and frequent meals. Small plates and snacks are better than a large breakfast, lunch, and dinner when it comes to energy.
- Get some exercise – yes, physical activity requires energy, so it may seem counterintuitive, but exercise kicks off several energy-giving mechanisms in the body. For example, exercise boosts oxygen levels, hormone levels, and the production of mitochondria (which turn fuel into energy).
- Get outside – fresh air and spending time in nature boosts energy! Beyond the exercise of being outdoors, access to fresh air and nature also act to boost your energy levels, even if only perceived.
A common theme strings these tips on how to manage energy together – they all require you to take a break! There are plenty more methods to manage your energy levels at work, so experiment until you find something that works for you. That said, it’s time to take a look at our top tips for energy management in the workplace.
4 Methods to Save Energy and Be More Productive in the Workplace
1. Understand How to Work
Understanding how to work is an important part of managing energy levels and will be personal to you. Your workflow and energy levels are going to differ from other people’s, so the key is finding what works for your body.
If, for example, you go through dips and peaks of energy throughout the day, then roll with it, powering through tasks when you feel energized and taking breaks when you don’t. If you’re always high-energy or low-energy, you need to set some limits.
2. Set Minimum and Maximum Limits for Yourself at the Start of the Day
If you are a high-energy worker, that’s great! However, it tends to be unsustainable in the long term. Exerting yourself at 100% all day, every day will lead to burnout, even if you feel like you have the energy at the time. In this case, you need to set a maximum limit of tasks to manage your energy.
On the other hand, if you often find yourself lacking in energy, despite following the tips above, then you need to set some minimum limits for tasks. This will stop you from slipping behind in your personal goals, which can quickly spiral.
3. Take Breaks Using the Ultradian Rhythms
The book The 20 Minute Break explores the idea of managing your energy as a natural rhythm, oscillating many times throughout the day as one of the many ultradian rhythms of our bodies.
The author, Ernest Lawrence Rossi, suggests that every 90 minutes or so, you need to take a break of, as the title suggests, 20 minutes. According to the author, this break acts as a recovery period from the build-up of stress hormones that drive our energy levels and productivity.
Taking a break during the dip in this ultradian rhythm, according to Rossi, gives time for our energy reserves to refill, maximizing our potential during the 90-minute peaks. What’s more, Rossi believes ignoring this rhythm leads to fatigue and poor work performance.
4. Listen to Your Body
A schedule can help you track deadlines, but your body is the only meter for managing your energy levels – listen to it! Our bodies have developed to let us know what they need – when you need food, you’re hungry; when you need sleep, you’re tired.
Ok, sometimes your body gets it wrong and you don’t really need that fifth burger, but generally speaking, it knows what it’s doing. If you start to feel like you’re flagging at work, listen and take a break.
It’s All About You
Overall, managing energy levels at work is all about what works for you. There are some general rules, such as eating, sleeping, and exercising appropriately, but you need to figure out your rhythm at the end of the day. Whether it’s high-energy or low-energy, you’ve got to implement some limits, take breaks, and listen to what your body is telling you!
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