As many individuals struggle to maintain work-life balance, organizations and academics have become increasingly aware of the emotional, physical, and mental impact a lack of vigor can have on workers. The question arises: How do we manage our personal energy to ensure full productivity in the workplace, at home, and beyond?
Gretchen Spreitzer provided an answer during the 2017 Positive Business Conference, sharing strategies people can use to manage their energy during and after work hours.
During her workshop session, “How Positive Leaders Sustain Their Energy for High Performance,” attendees explored the meaning of energy management, completed an “energy audit” to identify their own trajectory, and learned about research-backed solutions to help them maintain that vibrancy during the workday.
According to Spreitzer, energy is “the amount of vigor, vitality, or zest you have, or the quantity of get up and go.” She explained that too often individuals are so busy juggling work duties and personal responsibilities like raising children, sustaining relationships, or caring for aging parents, that we’re utterly exhausted before the day is over or don’t have the energy to do all the activities we want or need to do.
To help understand where individual trajectories stood, attendees completed a personal energy audit. The audit tracked activities and energy levels during those activities on a typical workday. The audit is based on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being very low and 10 being very high. For each activity, individuals marked where they felt based on the scale. Based on the audit results, they had greater awareness of their energy levels. Following the audit, they were provided with suggestions, or “energy interventions,” to help improve their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual state:
Physical Energy Interventions
- Get a good night’s rest: Lack of sleep can cause slower cognitive and social processing, memory loss, and difficulty concentrating. Aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
- Decrease the sugar, increase the water: Eat a balanced diet, and always eat breakfast and 5-6 smaller meals to increase your metabolism. Drink lots of water!
- Stay active: It’s recommended you do cardio 3-4 times a week for 20-30 minutes (take the stairs instead of the elevator, go for a walk, take a jog around block, etc.) and strength training at least once a week.
Mental Energy Interventions
- Take it one step at a time: We all do it, but multitasking is not the best option. It can slow us down, increases the likelihood of making an error, and even increases our risk of health issues. For important tasks that require full attention, find a quiet space to work and focus.
- Take a break: We need breaks throughout the day. You should aim to take a short break every 90-120 minutes. If you feel fatigued or need a mental break, switch from one individual task to another.
- Mindfulness: Be more fully present in the moment. Mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress and improve our focus, decision-making, and connection to others.
Emotional Energy Interventions
- Be positive: Having a positive outlook on life can help you live healthier and longer. Smiling and laughter have benefits as they can boost your mood.
- Help someone: Whether it’s giving a compliment or assisting a coworker on a project, giving others a helping hand can make you feel better and encourages others to do the same.
- Spend more time with energizers: Find people who also exert positive energy and minimize your interactions with those who don’t.
Spiritual Energy Interventions
- Show gratitude: Research suggests that gratitude is associated with better life satisfaction, increased social support, and may can prevent stress and depression. Get a gratitude journal and write down three things you are grateful for every day.
- Reinforce meaning: Take 20 minutes to write down what’s meaningful in your life. This can increase your overall health and well-being. Have life goals? Write them down. If you belong to a particular faith, add more prayer to your everyday life.