There are multiple devices that claim they can record your energy levels or 'body battery', but no fitness tracker or Apple device knows you better than you know yourself. Recognising your energy patterns and understanding the common energy zappers is a great way to start to manage your energy levels.
Each and every one of us has different energy levels along with different patterns. Some of us may feel most awake, alert and energetic first thing in the morning, whereas others may find their evenings the best time to churn through tasks that require high concentration.
We take a look at the role physical health plays in your productivity at work, the most common energy zappers and how you can harness your natural energy patterns for maximum output.
Step #1 Know your physical health
It is no secret that eating a balanced diet, regular exercise and sleep underpin our energy levels in any given day - but it is how you prioritise these activities that determines whether you soar or slump at work.
For years, leading scientists have shared the importance of 7-9hrs sleep; however, it may be that the quality of your sleep has more of an effect on your energy levels throughout the day. A sleepless night can have the same impact on your body as two standard drinks, leading us to be more reckless, clumsy and unable to focus on important tasks.
Establish an effective wind-down routine, try and resolve worries earlier in the day, turn off devices an hour before bed and adapt your sleep and wake times to suit your body clock.
Eating a balanced diet is important to managing your energy levels; this includes a variety of unrefined carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, with an emphasis on vegetables, whole grains, and healthy oils; this is considered the best energy-boosting diet. However, when it comes to our workday, we are more likely to indulge in croissants at coffee shop meetings, fast food lunches and beers after work.
By striking a balance between healthy and less healthy days, you are more likely to build sustained energy.
The impact of exercise on brain health is well-documented and 30 minutes of exercise can provide us with a boost of happy hormones which provide positive emotions, mental clarity and an abundance of energy. Simply pop on a pair of walking shoes at lunchtime for supercharge your productivity.
Scheduling your caffeinated drinks between 9:30am and 11:30am, and another between 1:30pm and 5pm may help you take advantage of the dips in your cortisol levels for when you need an additional boost. However, everyone's caffeine sensitivity is different, so it may be a little trial-and-error before you find which works best.
Step #2 Identifying and Reducing Your Energy Zappers
Overconsumption of the news
Negative news stories increase personal worry, which can drain your energy levels. Conflicts, natural disasters and other upsetting events are routinely published on our news feeds, social media and in newspapers. Often this can create draining anxious feelings as we feel empathy for those who have been affected.
Energy vampires are those who (sometimes intentionally) drain your energy. They feed on your willingness to listen and care, leaving you feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. This negative individual can be colleagues, family or friends and are often lurking in the lunchroom, around the watercooler or in other public workspaces. Limit the time spent with energy vampires and avoid getting sucked into their negativity.
Opening social media on your lunch break and seeing the lifestyles of the Instagram world can be enough to make anyone feel inadequate. Limit yourself to positive social media experiences like memes, humorous videos and positive friends and family to avoid self-doubt and social comparison.
Lack of financial wellbeing
Financial wellbeing is defined as "when a person can meet expenses and has some money left over, is in control of their finances and feels financially secure, now and in the future." Many factors influence financial wellbeing, including health, income, financial inclusion and social capital. Worrying about these factors can become an energy-zapping exercise if carried out too often, especially if it is keeping you up at night. Finding support and ways to manage finances effectively can significantly reduce this burden.
Excessively high expectations
Some of us often focus on trying to please everybody – others succumb to the constant pursuit of perfectionism. Being too tough on yourself makes you unable to accept the idea that you could make mistakes (as a way to grow and develop). Keeping workplace expectations realistic, but still achieving can help balance the energy needed to perform.
Lack of connection
In theory, during social isolation, we should be bouncing off the walls with energy now we're rid of lengthy work commutes, group workouts, errands to run, and birthday drinks to attend. Many of us are feeling the opposite due to a lack of social connection. Make time to connect with your colleagues even if your current work environment is limited.
Unrealistic To-Do lists
Have you ever created a to-do list for the day which looks more like a to-do list for the month? To-do lists are a great way to stay on track but try and keep it to no more than five things for the day. You can always add more later.
Know where you get your energy from
Most people live the majority of their adult lives not knowing where they get their energy from. It seems a simple question, but very few of us understand the activities that revitalise or tire us. Some of us may recharge with a social drink with friends, a big night out or a trip away. Others may prefer a walk-in nature followed by a night in alone reading a good book. The same applies to work - some may prefer a little time in a quiet room working solo, while others may enjoy brainstorming in a workshop. Consider which activities energises you and schedule time throughout the day to recharge.
Step #3 Planning Your Day
Planning your workday around your energy can be a great way to help you perform at your best. Experts recommend breaking your daily activities into the following periods:
High-Clarity Periods –the times you feel most energised to think clearly but not in great detail. Best reserved for blue-sky thinking, innovation, creativity and goal setting.
High-Energy Periods – the time of the day where you are most productive and have the highest levels of concentration. Use this time for crucial work that is done thoroughly, timely and detailed.
Agitated Periods – this is the time when you can be most easily distracted. Use this time to clear emails, tidy or return phone calls. If you can step out for a walk or a coffee break, this is the time to do so.
Low-Energy Periods – most of us know the 3pm slump all too well. Stick to less important tasks during this time, ones that don't require a high load on the brain. Some workplaces encourage mid-afternoon naps; others like to use this time to hit the gym.
•Know your physical health and how it contributes to your energy levels.
•Consider how you can eliminate or counteract activities that drain your energy each day.
•Plan your work activities around your energy levels.
Recognising your energy patterns and creating your work schedule accordingly can make a world of difference in the quality of work you produce and your productivity. Additionally, planning your work around your energy levels can make work more enjoyable and see you achieve your full potential.
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