For the last few years, my company has presented a series of seminars for low-level managers to increase our leadership skills. Really, they are a combination of a forum for senior management to make sure we are all on the same page.and seminars from outside consultants. The senior management messages are generally interesting, and it is good to get a window into what our senior management is thinking, the seminars are what make the whole thing amazing.
Last year, Dr. Jack Groppel spoke to us for the first time (he came back this year) and he actually came to my location in St. Louis, so I got to see him in person. This may sound incredibly cheesy, but I don’t care: that talk literally changed my life, both at work and home.
The crux of the Corporate Athlete premise that he presented that day is that managing your energy levels is the key to productivity in anything that you do. This means physical energy of course, but also mental, emotional and spiritual energy. So, I am trying to stand up once every hour at least and do as much exercise and healthy eating as I can to maintain my physical energy, but I also have to work on those other areas for optimal engagement with what I do.
An exercise we did in that first seminar was focused on changing the stories we tell ourselves. The structure of the worksheet was basically “I would like to do ( x ). I don’t because ( y ) But the truth is ( z ).” A simplified example would be “I’d like to write more, but I don’t because I don’t have time, and anyway I would be terrible at it. Buy the truth is, I am not a terrible writer, and I can get better through practice. Plus, I could definitely watch less TV.”
The first thing I did after that seminar was spend some time figuring out what I would actually like to do with my time, starting with a more fleshed out version of that example above. I like my job, but I was most concerned about my out of work time–I felt that I was not spending that time wisely, using most of my energy at work. I made goals and started to look a how to make progress toward those goals. I started writing for GamingAngels, to give myself a wider outlet for my writing, and I started posting more here. I also decided I didn’t want to give up TV entirely, but in order to earn TV time, I had to do something else at the same time, usually either exercise or some form of crafting. That way the time felt a bit more useful to me.
In order to fit more into my personal time, I needed to do that energy management thing. I started on my quest with the fitbit not too long after that seminar, and I found that it really did help. I was a bit more tired at first, but that actually helped, too, because I slept better at night, and I quickly found I had more energy. I got better about planning time with friends and family, too, in order to keep my emotional energy up.
As I worked on these things, I found that I did get more done, and the benefits also spilled over to my work. My work life hadn’t been in as bad shape as my personal time–that was where I was using most of my energy–but the extra energy helped take my work from decent to pretty good. There are still stressors, but somehow they don’t seem quite so difficult to overcome.
Lately, I have found myself spending too much time playing fairly mindless games on Facebook, which is a pretty sure sign I am letting my energy flag. I am still getting more done than I did before I started working on these things, but less than I was when I was more on top of things. I clearly have some work to do now. Oddly, I find that letting my writing slip is draining my energy more than actually doing the writing does. I would have thought of writing as something that takes energy, which is true enough in a way, but it obviously provides energy in other ways.
How do you manage your energy and get things done?