Managing your energy is a lot like managing your finances.
If you want to be in good financial health, learn how to budget your money. If you want to do the things you desire, learn how to manage your energy.
But now that you’re in quarantine, it’s so easy to be wasteful with your energy.
Hitting the snooze on your alarm five times. Scrolling on your phone throughout the day. Staying awake past midnight. Watching TV as a couch potato, instead of exercising.
We’re experiencing a new phenomenon where coronavirus-related stress is affecting our energy and motivation.
Behavioral health therapist Dr. Jane Pernotto Ehrman calls it coronavirus quarantine fatigue. “This kind of fatigue drains our motivation,” she says, “We just want to go lie down on the couch and do nothing. Because of these difficult situations, we’re in a kind of shock and we don’t know what to do.”
Being stuck at home makes you more vulnerable to these energy sappers. And although they may seem minor, they can snowball into a serious problem.
Because if you don’t get a handle on it, you’ll encounter more than a dip in your energy and productivity. You’ll experience:
- Appetite changes
- Racing thoughts
- Poor focus
- Signs of burnout
Poor energy management keeps you from creating and living the life you want. Last week, we learned how self-care can boost your energy. Now, I’ll show you how to budget your energy levels with a few productivity tips.
(And yes, all these tips can be done at home!)
Ready? Let’s begin.
How to Manage Your Energy Using These 4 Productivity Tips
#1 Master Your Environment
Ever tried focusing when your desk is in shambles? How can you work when piles of paperwork and unwashed mugs sit on a light coating of dust?
It’s more than distracting. It’s inefficient.
Each time you look for an unfiled document, you lose energy.
Each time an unwashed mug grabs your attention, you lose energy.
Each time you have to shuffle your clutter around, you lose energy.
Don’t let unnecessary clutter sap your focus, energy, and creativity.
Before you sit down to work, take a few minutes to declutter your space. If you’re now working from home due to coronavirus, a dedicated workspace that is clutter-free is even more critical to preserving your focus. When your space is free from distracting elements, you can better focus on the task at hand.
#2 Understand Your Peaks and Dips
Ever notice how at certain times of the day, you’re ready to conquer the world? And then at other times, you’re ready for a power nap?
That’s because your energy levels fluctuate throughout the day — understanding how they rise and fall is key to optimizing your energy. You can do this by listening to your circadian rhythm.
“Your circadian rhythm,” according to the National Sleep Organization, “is basically a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals.”
Everybody’s circadian rhythm is different. It’s why early birds feel most productive in the morning and night owls work better during the evening.
Understanding your circadian rhythm helps you learn how to manage your energy levels throughout the day. You’ll want to save your cognitively demanding tasks, like writing or planning, for when your energy is highest. Similarly, you’ll want to save your less demanding tasks, like answering emails, for when your energy dips.
What does your circadian rhythm look like? How can you use it to structure your workday for maximum energy and productivity?
#3 Clean Up Attention Residue
If you still believe that multitasking is efficient, think again. Studies show that multitasking is actually wasteful with your energy and productivity.
Dr. Sophie Leroy observed that each time you switch between tasks, your focus experiences a type of lag. “This is what I call Attention Residue,” she says, “when part of our attention is focused on another task instead of being fully devoted to the current task that needs to be performed.”
Let’s look at an example.
You’re working on a project, but you’re notified of a new email. You check it out but reread it a few times because your mind is still stuck on the project you were just working on. After you respond to the email, you return to your project. You take a few moments, however, to figure out where you left off and your next step before getting started.
This is just one example. If you’re transitioning from working in the office to working at home, you’re exposed to even more distractions — laundry, dishes, and children just to name a few. Switching back and forth between tasks is often tempting but it wastes bits of your energy. To help you clean up attention residue, use task batching and time blocking.
Task batching is when you group similar tasks, like answering emails or editing a paper. Time blocking is when you dedicate a slot in your calendar to complete a specific task.
These strategies will help you be more mindful of how you’re spending your energy and where you’re directing your focus.
#4 Start Outsourcing or Delegating
Here’s the reality: there’s no way you can do everything yourself.
Trying to do everything yourself can lead to coronavirus quarantine fatigue and feeling overwhelmed with life.
Your time and energy are limited. But that shouldn’t discourage you from getting your priorities completed. Instead of doing everything yourself, start relying on others.
Outsourcing or delegating your responsibilities is an efficient way to manage your energy while getting things done.
If you’re a business owner, there are several business operations you can outsource:
- Administrative tasks
- Customer service
- Human resources
Outsourcing these processes frees up your time and energy for things that you enjoy, like serving your clients or business development.
You can even delegate or outsource at home. Your spouse and children can help out with the household chores. Or instead, you can hire a housekeeper to tidy your home while you’re at work or a cleaning service to come in periodically.
Your energy levels are finite. But when you start outsourcing, you tap into the energy pools of other people. This neat productivity tip gets your priorities done without overextending yourself!
Productivity is Only One Part of the Equation
As I mentioned above, this article is part two of a two-part series on energy optimization. (Link to Part one at bottom of article.) The productivity tips I shared help you better utilize your energy. But productivity tips do little when your energy baseline is low from exhaustion and stress.
Productivity is only one of two keys to optimizing your energy. The other key is self-care.
As you work on better managing your energy, remember to take care of your body. Regular self-care can expand your energy baseline, improve your mood, and protect you from coronavirus quarantine fatigue.
To help you build self-care into your daily routine, take advantage of my “From Burnout To Balance: A Simple 10-Minute Daily Self-Care Practice.”
This practice has been shown to:
- Increase mindfulness, well-being, self-confidence, and personal power
- Increase your ability to concentrate
- Cultivate a greater resilience to stress, a positive mindset, and a sense of hopefulness and calm
- Decrease stress and stress-related symptoms like frustration, mood swings, feelings of overwhelm or lack of control, anxiety, depression, low energy, headaches, body aches and pains, muscle tension, chest pain and rapid heartbeat, insomnia, and frequent colds and infections
- Reduce or even stop worrying