Managing Your Energy
I have struggled with time all my life. Running out of time, mostly. I’m sure many of you join me in this struggle. We have ideas, we have dreams, we have duties: how to do it all? We push harder, we make huge efforts, we buy yet another time management system, we look for the next “expert” to help us tweak our schedules. I’m not an expert on these matters, but by virtue of having lived a long time I’ve learned some important things. And one of those is that what I used to call a "time problem" wasn’t a time problem so much as an energy problem. I have sorely misunderstood one of my three most precious resources: my energy.
At the center of what I have long called my “problem with time,” is a chronic problem with over-scheduling myself. Not an unusual problem for people who are busy or for people who get off on getting stuff done (no matter how small or tedious those things may be). I can let myself slip into efficiency mode too easily and lose track of what constitutes genuine effectiveness in my day (and my life). And when I'm focused merely on getting tasks accomplished, I mistakenly think I can schedule meetings and projects back to back.
I have learned the hard way— I cannot do this. In order to preserve my energy, and to use it judiciously, I need to allow space around meetings, events, or tasks. Breathing space. Literally. Take a few minutes, or even an hour to breathe, to get outside, to take a meditation, to re-direct the brain from tight focus required in work to more open focus that inevitably leads to interior spaciousness and receptivity.
Always being in out-put mode is physically and mentally exhausting, and it's also creatively destructive. In the ebb and flow of my day, I require in-flow, moments of experiencing beauty, joy, frivolity, spaciousness. This is the way we actually re-generate energy in our system. We refuel with the cosmic source giving us the wherewithal to return to the task at hand refreshed and ready to perform well.
And when I manage my work day with this practice in mind, I actually work faster, smarter, more creatively, more effectively. Managing energy makes the time problem disappear.
When I can remember this, everything goes better, and I’m more effective in my work, my play, my relationships. When I forget these things, I get not-so-subtle reminders that I’m off track. I get sick; I get overwhelmed; I get fatigued; I get frustrated; and in rare cases, I get depressed. These are all messages from the mind/body that something is wrong.
If this ever happens to you, take these reminders as opportunities to re-dedicate yourself to your foundational practices. Make sure you are honoring your mission over your to-do list. And most importantly, build energetic refueling practices into every single day. You’ll find yourself happier, healthier, and way more productive than you used to be.