Defined in physics as the capacity to work, energy comes from four main wellsprings in human beings: the body, mind, emotions and spirit. In each area, energy can be systematically expanded and regularly renewed by establishing specific rituals and behaviors that are intentionally practiced and precisely scheduled, with the goal of making them an integral part of your routine. Strategies, rituals and behaviors that, in time, become automatic through repetition and ultimately even unconsciously performed.
No matter how well you schedule your time, if you don't have the personal energy to fulfill your commitments, things may not get done efficiently and effectively. Time management is about planning how much time you have in a day for meetings, work, meal planning, parental activities, connecting with friends, personal downtime to prepare for or recoup from the day and many other activities. When there is additional pressure and responsibilities, as humans, we tend to work longer hours without breaks, try to multitask, and can function on willpower alone. We may achieve more on the short-term, yet time is a finite category and as such can only be managed to a certain extent. Long term, this behavior will lead to lack of engagement and productivity, lack of focus, lack of satisfaction, loss of friends, overreactions, deteriorating health, burnout and other potential issues.
What if you understood your daily energy cycles? Athletes need to alternate periods of training and recovery to be successful. Same as with sleep during the night, we go through alternating cycles of light sleep, deep sleep and dream sleep. Research has shown that our energy levels also function on an ultradian rhythm, alternating between high and low energy cycles during the day. We need to take advantage of high energy periods and either recharge or rest when our energy levels are low. Otherwise, our energy levels will continue to decline until we hit rock bottom, which happens much sooner than we think. It's a simple equation, without recovery, it is not possible to sustain high levels of productivity and function through life in an efficient and effective manner.
Physical energy is the basis for all tasks for which one needs to be awake and alert for. It depends on the amount of sleep we get, nutrition and exercise. Inadequate nutrition and rest can negatively impact the way one deals with stress, the way decisions are made and the ability to focus.
Emotional energy is crucial for the way one deals with stressful situations. While it may be difficult to maintain a positive outlook all day, negative emotions obstruct personal and professional productivity. We restore our emotional energy when we socialize with people we care about, we show and receive appreciation and when we try to look at stressful situations from an asset based perspective, which is more positive than deficit based thinking.
Mental energy is responsible for the ability to maintain a high level of focus for a long period of time, think rationally and make decisions. Common deflators of mental energy include distractions (from either technology or people) and multi-tasking efforts. One should prioritize the most important tasks and make time for them when we know we won't be interrupted.
Spiritual energy is fueled by our sense of meaning and purpose. If you love what you are doing, it doesn't feel like work. Consequently, spiritual energy is renewed when we do things that give us feelings of meaning and fulfillment. Identifying what we do best and enjoy most, allocating our time and energy to the areas of our lives that we deem most important and incorporating our core values into our every day behavior feeds our spiritual energy on an on-going basis.
At Interpersonal Discovery, we help people understand their four key reservoirs of energy and build capacity by teaching them how to manage their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energy levels. You can learn these behaviors, along with many tips and tools that help you move seamlessly between spending and renewing your energy. You can attend our workshops and seminars on energy management to gain a high level understanding of the behaviors, tips and techniques, or work with us on an individual basis to address your specific life situations.