In this week’s episode of the Working With Podcast, I answer a question about how to manage your energy levels through the day.
Hello and welcome to episode 72 of my Working With Podcast. A podcast created to answer all your questions about productivity, GTD, time management, self-development and goal planning. My name is Carl Pullein and I am your host for this show.
This week, it’s all about energy and how to maximise your energy for the day as well as managing your energy throughout the day so you stay fully energised all day.
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Okay, it’s now time for me to hand you over to the mystery podcast voice for this week’s question.
This week’s question comes from Sergio. Sergio asks: When I have the energy to do the important thing (let’s say in the morning), I don’t have the time to do it. When I have time (let’s say at the end of the workday) I don’t have the energy. Is there anything I can do to better manage my energy levels?
Thank you ... for your question Sergio.
Managing your energy levels really starts with your preparation. If you are not getting enough sleep, you are not going to have enough energy to get you through the day. Likewise, if you are not taking enough breaks, eating the right foods and getting enough exercise, all these things will compound and reduce your daily energy levels.
So what can you do to maintain your energy throughout the day?
Well, let’s start with sleep. Okay, I know a lot of experts say you need between 8 and 10 hours sleep a day, but in reality, everybody is going to be different. Margaret Thatcher, the former British Prime Minister, famously got by on 4 hours a night. Yet, many people claim they need at least 8 hours. Personally, I need around 6 hours.
When it comes to sleep you need to discover what amount you need. If you are not sure, experiment for a week or two. You will soon find the amount you need. Once you know, make sure you get that sleep each night. This is a priority you cannot neglect.
A lack of enough quality sleep is the biggest reason you will feel a lack of energy towards the end of the day, Sergio. And I emphasise the word quality. Quality sleep is far more important than the total number of hours you sleep. Make sure you go to bed at the right time, your phone and digital devices are on silent and are not lighting up every few minutes and your room is cool and quiet.
Another thing that would really help, but not everyone can do it is to take power naps. I take around 20 to 30 mins mid-morning and that always helps me. If I am working on a new course or an update, I will often take two or three power naps per day. It’s two or three hours of intense work, followed by a 20-minute nap. That always helps and keeps my creativity high as well as my energy. Winston Churchill swore by his naps claiming that they enabled him to do a day and a half’s worth of work every day.
Exercise. Okay, I know a lot of people shrink from the thought of having to do exercise, but exercise does not have to be hours in a gym or pounding the streets in your running shoes. Effective exercise could be just taking a 30 minute walk at lunchtime and in the evenings. It does not have to be strenuous. Not only will regular exercise boost your energy levels it will also improve your overall health. That’s a win win in anybody’s book.
You are going to have a lot more energy if you are doing three or four sessions of hard physical activity each week. But it does not have to be that way. Just spending some time each day walking is going to lift your energy levels enough to get you through the day.
Now during the day if you find yourself feeling tired get up from your desk and find a reasonably sized flight of stairs and walk (or run) up them a couple of times. That act, of getting your blood racing through your veins, will lift your energy levels significantly. Over the years I have been exercising regularly, I would have to say that my regular exercise habit is the one thing that allows me to stay energised all day. Now, I am lucky, I get to schedule my own day as I work from home and I schedule my exercise sessions at 2pm. Doing exercise at that time nicely breaks up my day and gives me an energy boost mid-afternoon so I can continue to work with exceptionally high levels of energy well in to the evening.
What you eat also has an impact on your energy levels. If you eat a carbohydrate rich lunch your energy levels are going to suffer in the afternoon. When your body starts processing all that carbohydrate you will experience a sugar dump and your energy levels will drop.
I often joke that the worst time to do a presentation is between 2 and 4 pm. This is when your audience will be dropping off into sleep. And there’s a good tip for any presenters out there. If you are doing a presentation between 2 and 4 pm make sure your put a lot of energy into your presentation. Slides packed with data and text is a guaranteed way to put your audience to sleep. Just don’t do that… EVER! Anyway.
If you want higher energy levels then you need to eat better, energy giving food. Plenty of fruit and vegetables, clean proteins such as chicken, fish and other lean meats and go very easy on the sugary snacks. I’ve found having a bag of almonds around is a great source of energy giving food if you get those hunger pangs throughout the day. Bananas are also a wonderful source of slow release energy giving foods.
And of course, make sure you are drinking plenty of water. It’s surprising how energy sapping a lack of water is. Make sure you have a bottle of water with you at all times. Keep sipping it throughout the day and you will find those periods of low levels of energy will reduce.
Have a purpose when you are working on a task.
Now I don't mean a life purpose here, what I mean is when you are working on a task you have a clear purpose and end in mind. Knowing what you are doing and why helps to keep your levels of enthusiasm for doing the task up. This mental boost keeps your brain engaged in the task. For many of things we do we think of them as a drudge. We don't know why we are doing them or they are things we feel we just have to do and so we do them without any enthusiasm. That always leads to lower levels of energy.
Instead, think of all tasks as having a purpose. Even if it is you allow yourself to finish work a little earlier if you get the job done by a certain time.
For me, whether I am writing, recording this podcast or my YouTube videos or creating videos for my online courses, the thought of being able to help people become better organised and productive gives me huge energy. That purpose motivates me and always helps me to push through when my energy is wilting.
Find the reason you are doing the work you are doing. Who are you going to help, or who will benefit. Imagine their faces when you produce work on time and with a high degree of quality. That’s guaranteed to pull you out of your energy slump.
Your energy levels are directly linked to your state of mind. Tony Robbins talks a lot of about this and it is true. If you are feeling down and a bit gloomy, your energy will also be down. If you are up and excited about what you are doing your energy levels will also be up. To get your state of mind up, make sure you are taking enough breaks and when I say “breaks” I don’t mean just sitting staring at a computer screen, I mean get away from your desk and move. Move as fast as you can. You need to get your heart rate up. That will boost your energy levels. You can try this experiment at work this week. Towards the end of the day as you are about to move in to you last working hour of the day, go and do a ten minute brisk walk - outside is best, but if you cannot get outside, then find a stairwell and run up and down them for a few minutes. I can guarantee when you get back to your desk your energy will be bursting out of you. The final hour will not drag. It will fly by and you’ll soon be on your way home with the knowledge that you’ve had a fantastic day.
Well, I hope that helps, Sergio. Thank you for your wonderful question and thank you to all of you who are listening. Remember, if you have a question you would like me to answer, just send me a quick email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or DM me on Twitter or Facebook. All the links are in the show notes.
It just remains for me to wish you all a very very productive week.