Tuesday, September 26, 2017

No Rest for the Wicked... or the Weary

You know how sometimes themes start to recur in your everyday life, like happenstance? I think Oprah said something like (and I’m paraphrasing here) ‘the universe will send you a tap on the shoulder, then a punch in the face, then a brick wall’. Something like that. Well, I’ve been getting a message, and it’s almost at brick-wall levels. I finally decided to listen.

The message: you’re being inefficient with your energy.

Sounds pretty benign, right? You may be raising an eyebrow wondering why this is a revelation of any kind. Read on. Trust me, this is big.

For a while now,  I’ve been working on the assumption I really need to manage my time better. I’m not getting as much done as I want. Granted, I’ve got pretty high expectations of myself. I’ve read a bunch of stuff over the years about it. Managing your priorities, quadrants, to do lists, etc. This is becoming increasingly important as I attempt to not only keep my business running stronger than ever as I work less so that I can focus on writing a book, building an audience for that book, and polish the first two books in the series prior to publication. Oh, and pull together a nonfiction book proposal.

I have the to do lists. I have the drive. I book time into my day to write at the end of the day. But yet… It just wasn’t happening. Instead, I’d watch an hour too much TV, unable to drag my ass upstairs and do it. I had no umph left after the demands of the day had been met. All I had was enough time to decompress and read some before drifting into a fitful sleep, disappointed in myself.

So when I picked up semi-randomly the Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal, it was an ah-ha of the variety Oprah would be proud of.

You know what happens when I write? I get charged up. Stupid happy. Every other piece of my life lights up. So… if the activity of writing energizes me, why, in God’s name, would I wait until I was energy depleted to do it? Because it felt like an indulgence. Writing does not put food on my table, not yet. But if writing is an act of renewal for me, doesn't it mean the possibility of giving energy to other areas of my life? So, screw the guilt, I decided to give myself permission to test a theory.

For the past week I’ve reversed the formula. I’ve been writing first thing in the morning. I’m eager (or as eager as I am to do anything at 7:00 am) to get the day rolling. And when my writing time is done? I feel ready to take on the world. More, I’m eager to get back to writing. So at the end of the day? I’m doing more writing at that time, too. My work has been more focused, and I’m bringing that creative energy to my business. It’s a win/win/win.

Humans need recuperation. Heck, we’re supposed to devote a full third of our time here on earth to sleeping, the definition of rest. I’m learning to build small recuperations into my day, allowing my energy to naturally recharge.

[spoiler alert] The authors of Power do advise against drowning yourself in sugary donuts and caffeine, too. Managing energy affects all facets of our lives, and it’s literally the difference between happiness and despair sometimes. But reframing my thinking about how I will manage my energy has had dramatic effects on multiple areas of my life.

What habits should you build into your day to help manage your energy? A ten minute walk? Hanging out with your dog for a few minutes? Half hour of pleasure reading? Ten deep breaths? Meditation? Yoga? Doodling? The options are as endless as they are important. And giving yourself an energy recharge doesn’t have to take all the time in the world. You’d be amazed what five minutes can do, given what you decide to do inside those five minutes, like say, breathe deeply with your eyes closed.

Think how much we could do as a country if everyone wasn't walking around stressed out all the time, thinking 'I have so much to do and not enough time...'The ultimate irony here in this country is while we’re so programmed to work harder, faster, smarter… the most productive thing we can do sometimes is take a break, or at least do those things which give us energy. 

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