24th July, 2018
At this time of year conversations with clients often include the topic of our annual holiday and the chance to ‘recharge our batteries’. With our ever-increasing workloads and demands on our time, it has never been more important to look after ourselves and our energy. By doing so we can be at our best for those people and things that need us most. But what about the other 50-weeks of the year? Here are 5 energy-boosting habits to stay at your best for longer, for the rest of the year.
I don’t want to be saved, I want to be spent. Fritz Perls, founder of Gestalt therapy.
I think he is saying that to live a success and fulfilling life, it will take effort and energy. Further more, it is less about attempting to store energy, as you would do with a rechargeable battery. It is more about finding ways, and building habits, that generate the energy we need on a daily basis.
Every one of these five habits is intended to be quick, simple and obvious. I believe this is why they have such a powerful impact on those of us who use them and perhaps, why so often they are neglected or forgotten.
1. Do something physical
Our internal energy is generated on demand. So we can either crash into that comfy chair and wait to see if our energy levels return or we can do something energetic that allows our internal energy-generators to fire up.
Think about your typical working day. How much of yours is spent in a sedentary state? Now challenge yourself to find at least 3 opportunities every day to include some degree of physical activity. That might be a brisk walk around the block in the fresh air, using the stairs instead of the lift or having a walk-and-talk meeting. Everyone’s boundaries and capabilities are different and the key is to find things that can fit into your day and you enjoy doing.
Energy comes from doing energetic things.
2. Focus on energising things
Focus is what we are paying attention to in our heads. The things we are choosing to think about most.
Right now, I would like you to choose something you will be doing or working on within the next month. That might be an important project or presentation, a business trip, a driving test, sitting an exam, or something else. For the next 2 minutes consider all the things that could go wrong with it. Imagine it going badly, just for a short while! Now notice what has happens to your energy levels? What about your breathing, your body language, the speed and tone of your inner-voice, the colours represented in the pictures you made in your head?
Now shake off those imaginary thoughts. Next take the same topic and this time imagine it going incredibility well. Better than you could possibly imagine. Focus on this for a few moments and notice the difference in your energy levels?
We need to adopt the habit of focussing more on the event going right than we do on what might go wrong. It would be naïve not to anticipate the bumps in the road at times. All too often, however, we waste energy focussed on utterly useless thoughts of potential worst-case-scenarios and not enough time focussing on seeing all the ways things can go brilliantly well.
When we think about anything that is in the future and not yet happened, I like to think about it as a plan. Sometimes we make useless plans and other times we make successful plans. One drains our energy, the other builds our energy.
Energy comes from focusing on energising things.
3. Complete one energising task
In the wired-world we live in, we are (or choose to be) constantly interrupted or distracted by so many things. They all take some of our energy as does the process of re-focussing on the thing we were doing.
In the TwentyOne office we are big fans of the Pomodoro technique. Created by Francesco Cirillo, this is a really simple method to bring focus and energy to whatever you are working on. Firstly choose a task that you can achieve within 25mins and give it 100% uninterrupted attention. You then take a 5-minute break. This is one Pomodoro. Larger tasks or projects will be split into a realistic set of Pomodoros. We apply the same principle to team meetings too. If you have never used this technique before, you might be surprised by the way it energises you and how productive you become as a result.
You can learn more about the Pomodoro technique if you click here
Energy comes from focusing on one thing energetically
4. Re-energise your language
The words we use have a significant impact on our energy levels.
Notice the words you typically say to yourself when you are at your most energetic and how your words change when you are low on energy. It is highly likely that you will hear some significant differences. By the way, ‘words’ and ‘language’ apply to those you say to yourself in your head as well as those you say out loud to others.
Is this thing ‘going to be really difficult’ or ‘going to be a challenge to relish’?
Are you ‘feeling exhausted’ or ‘looking forward to a good night’s sleep after a productive day’?
Has your boss ‘dumped their work on you’ or ‘trusted you with an exciting new project’?
Not only does your choice of words impact your own energy, they will impact those around you. When your energy is low, are your words more like the clouds or the sun? Is the day going to be brighter when you speak or brighter when you shut up again!?).
Energy comes from using energising language
5. Remember to fuel your body
So imagine you were about to go on a long car journey and you noticed your fuel-tank indicator was close to empty. It is incredibly obvious that you will need fuel for the journey, the right fuel at that. But all too often we get into bad refuelling habits for ourselves at work. Skipping breakfast, working lunch, grabbing something later? Whenever you feel a little lethargic, stop to consider the quality of your own fuel for today’s journey.
Two things for now, one of the quickest ways to boost your energy is checking your levels of hydration. Have you drunk enough water today? Secondly, avoid the sugar-filled ‘energy’ fixes if you can, “Everything in moderation and stay as close to nature as possible” as my grannie used to say.
We are seeing more and more organisations adding nutrition to their people and well-being strategies. If you want some extra tips, ideas and reminders you can check out our Executive Nutritionist by clicking here.
Energy comes from the quality of your fuel