Energy versus time
The relationship between time and energy is a funny one – have you ever been totally focused on something and so productive that you have achieved a lot in a very short space of time? Or conversely had all day to do one small task and found that you haven’t been able to complete it? In fact it is not time but energy that is the more influential variable here. Energy is within our control, the energy levels we have available to us are determined by a few different factors – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Time passes no matter what we do.
How to get the best out of yourself without killing yourself
It is important to differentiate between Workaholics compared to high achievers. Remember it is not the hours that you do, but what you do in the hours that you do.
Workaholics are unable to pace themselves and either chose to ignore or seem unaware of what is really happening to them often until it is too late, when they burnout or develop illness or die, or just even fall asleep at the wheel of their car and crash! Many workaholics turn to alcohol or drugs.
You can achieve greater energy without damaging your health. High achievers, work when they work, relax when they relax, and above all have learnt how to pace themselves so that they have the energy and the stamina to do what they have to do when they have to do it and they can do it to the highest levels of performance.
Energy in a human being is dependent on four main areas:
Have you taken in enough food and water to give you a good quantity of energy? Have you had a good night’s sleep? Are you getting enough exercise?
Your emotional state has an impact on the quality of your energy. If you feel on top of the world you feel energised and ready to seize the day. If you feel unhappy it tends to sap your energy.
Are you distracted? Or are you able to ignore everything else to focus on the thing you are trying to complete and be in the moment?
Do you feel that the activity you are using the energy for is something you believe in? Feel comfortable with? Or does it go against your inner values?
Learn How to Pace Yourself
Pacing yourself appropriately is one of the major principles of achieving greater energy; it is an important skill for anyone wanting to achieve greater energy and stamina without damaging their health. To achieve this it is essential that you learn about yourself. You need to raise your personal awareness regarding how to best pace yourself. Increasing your energy does not mean that you are able to work longer and longer hours without rest. Increased energy means that you get the best out of yourself during specific periods of time; a morning, a day, a week etc.
For sustained performance we need balance between expending energy and renewal. The higher our performance the more maintenance we need and the better quality of recovery time.
Ask yourself, will I increase my energy and achieve more if I work non-stop all day or have regular short breaks throughout the day? And if I find that I achieve more through having these regular breaks will I increase my energy further and achieve more if I improve the quality of these breaks? The same principle applies to longer periods of time like a year. Will you achieve more by working all year without any holidays or by having regular stress free holidays?
The only person who can answer these questions at the end of the day is ‘you’, by raising your awareness of how you feel, how you perform and what you achieve, using different pacing strategies.
Think about pit stops for a car. Pit stop strategy is one of the most important features of a race. Cars that make an additional pit stop will run faster on the racetrack than cars that did not make that stop. In a person’s lifetime the health, energy and productivity of the person who doesn’t take “pit stops” compared to the one who does could be poles apart. Having good recovery time helps you achieve the task in hand but it also helps you keep in good health long term.
Improving the quality of your breaks is an important skill to learn. Switching off skills that relax your mind as well as your body are essential if you are to ‘increase your energy levels’. The vast majority of people today work with their brains as opposed to their bodies, in most cases it is mental fatigue that gets to us first. Please listen to our podcast here if you wish to try a short relaxation session and give yourself some good quality recovery time.
The most successful individuals have learnt how to pace themselves by building in recovery time during the day, during the course of the week, over the weekends, and also learnt the need to take long enough holidays. They exercise, are more careful about their diet, make time for their families and relaxation, and above all have kept their sense of humour, instead of replacing it with cynicism as happens with many workaholics.
Think of energy like money in the bank, if you continually overspend you will always be running in the red. If you under-spend you will not be making the best of your resources. Getting it right is a fine balance which takes effort and awareness.
During the day it is important to have breaks. These can be very short but they are essential. If you feel a little stressed you can relax your breathing, relax your muscles, and have a brief visualisation of a favourite place. If your body feels a bit sluggish or your concentration is decreasing, you can walk along the corridor and up and down the stairs. It is important to have snacks during the day, especially with fruit, which raises the blood sugar gently, and maintains it longer. It is also important to get away from your desk at lunchtime even if it is for a walk around the block; and if your lunch is only sandwiches try and take them somewhere else.
By relaxing you are limiting needless loss of energy and therefore freeing it up for other uses.
Tips for good quality recovery time
Listening to your body is important here. It may be that the recovery needs to be physical, emotional, spiritual or mental. Try to make your recovery time more productive by focusing on the type of activity you think you need most.
Here are some examples
- Go for a walk round the block while practising some deep breathing
- Visualise a favourite place so that it is very vivid in your imagination – try to capture smells, sounds, feelings etc.
- Have a fruit snack
- Get away from your desk and have a walk
- Write a card to show someone you care about them
- Take a step back and spend some time thinking about the bigger picture
- Listen to some music
- Visit a colleague
- Get some fresh air and get your blood pumping – this improves circulation to the brain
- Choose to have some quiet time – switch off electronic devices
Try this Relaxation-Podcast (Note – the podcast has no visual image and starts as soon as you click the link)
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