I got worried when I looked at my calendar last Thursday. I had just finished two days of team coaching, and instead of having a light day to recuperate my energy, I was a guest on two podcasts on top of my regular meetings. What’s more, the second podcast was late in the day.
What I did not expect was that when I finished the recording of my second podcast, Mindshift with Darell Evans, I would feel more upbeat and energized than when I started the day.
That is quite unusual for me as I am an early bird. It got me thinking. What was it about that interview that gave me energy instead of taking it away from me?
First, it was the connection. I had not met Darell before, but I felt I found a kindred spirit. It feels so precious when we connect to another human being on a deeper level.
Second, I was using my brain throughout the interview. Darell was asking me questions nobody had asked me before. I was in this sweet spot of having enough challenge to feel engaged, but not too much to feel anxious (a stage psychologists call flow).
Third, I learned new things as Darell shared some of his learnings with me, which resonated.
Finally, as I shared some of the learnings from my life, I felt a sense of meaning. I thought that what I was sharing would be helpful to the listeners, and this sense of purpose energised me.
Could this be the recipe for energy generation? Connection, flow, learning, and meaning?
This week, I continued thinking about managing my energy and I came up with a thought experiment for us.
How would we design our work if holidays could not exist? Bear with me here. I know it sounds dreadful. I know you are most likely looking forward to a holiday soon. I know I am.
But what if we could not take time off to recover? How would we make sure the recovery is built-in every single day or week?
What changes would we make so that our work gives us more energy than it takes away?
Could we lead ourselves to be in a state of flow most of the time, in the right sweet spot between challenge and support?
Here are some more questions to consider:
- What changes would you make in your work if you had to guarantee that you could sustain your energy indefinitely?
How could you ensure consistency? How could you move from sprinting to marathon-running? Rather than going all-in, burning out, pausing, and then restarting, how would it look to be able to go on indefinitely? What activities and people would you let go of?
I know I recuperate energy when I have meeting-free days. I love the freedom of not having a time commitment on my calendar. Being able to go deep with my intellectual pursuits, whether it is writing, strategy, or learning without looking at the clock is rejuvenating. Discussions that have breakthroughs also energize me. How about you?
- How can you align your calendar to your internal clocks?
Our body has internal clocks controlled by hormones that influence our energy ebbs and flows. First, it is the circadian 24-hour clock. Optimizing when you do your challenging work, sleep, and exercise according to your circadian rhythms will help you optimize your energy.
If you are a premenopausal woman, you also have a 28-day infradian clock. We never learned to listen and respect that clock, but we would better manage our energy if we did. For more information about this, you can read Alisa Vitti’s articles and her book “In the Flo.”
- What is the 20% of your effort that brings you 80% of the results?
I was in a coaching program this week, and the coach kept saying: “Overdoing it, overdoes it.” We understand this in most areas of our life. If you overbake the lasagna, you will burn them. If you wash your shirt in hotter water and longer than you should, you will destroy it. If you get too intense with a person you just started dating, you will scare them away.
We understand this, but when it comes to our work, we often overdo it. Using the 80/20 rule to identify which of our efforts bring the most results will help us stop doing too many things.
While we have known for years that success comes not from managing our time, but from managing our energy, very few of us know how to consistently optimize our calendar for energy rather than time.
What are your best tips to do this?