Like every entrepreneur working hard to build a company, at times I didn't get enough sleep. And at times, I definitely felt a little overwhelmed and overworked (okay, a lot overwhelmed and overworked).
So, when I had multiple meetings in a row, instead of taking a break in between sessions I ran to the next one.
The team worried about me. They thought I was losing it. I wasn't. Hustling from meeting to meeting wasn't a sign of stress -- it got my heart rate up and left me feeling energized.
Sure, it looked weird, but when you're sitting in meetings all day, generating short bursts of energy wakes you up and keeps you focused -- as well as helps you be more productive and make fewer mistakes. According to a study on fatigue management in the workplace, workplace fatigue costs U.S. businesses approximately $18 billion a year in lost work output, workplace errors and accidents.
Don't Let Fatigue Fog Your Workday
And don't say that fatigue makes you more creative. While research performed at Albion College shows that a certain level of tiredness can help you perform better on so-called "insight problems" (requiring an "aha" moment rather than logic and reasoning), fatigue negatively impacts judgment, decision-making and analysis skills -- all the things you and your employees do throughout the day.
Science is great, but you don't need research to tell you that energy levels start to wane in the early afternoon. Most people lose energy throughout the day and by 2 or 3 p.m. they're starting to fade. Many end the day feeling exhausted and wrung out.
Yet some people--some extremely busy and productive people -- aren't wiped out.
That's because, according to Brendon Burchard, a bestselling author and CEO of High Performance Institute, most people bleed out energy and intention in the transitions: between tasks, between meetings, etc.
High performers, on the other hand, master those transitions. Some meditate. Others give themselves a short mental break to release tension and shift the focus from one activity to another.
And some actively recharge by doing jumping jacks, pushups, taking a brisk walk -- or running from meeting to meeting.
Those "energy breaks" help them recharge themselves throughout the day, in between activities. It's as if they generate energy throughout the day, instead of losing it.
And you and your team can, too.
Walking and Talking
A simple way is to incorporate walking meetings into your workflow. LinkedIn's Jeff Weiner, Mark Zuckerberg, and Google's Sundar Pichai are huge proponents of walking meetings (as was the late, great Steve Jobs). Not only does a walk help increase energy levels, it also helps improve productivity, creativity, and focus.
Or you could go a little farther. Some companies implement contests like a Daily Pushup Challenge. Others track steps, creating FitBit (or other wearable tracker) groups with challenges based on daily or weekly goals.
Programs like those work extremely well at some companies, helping to get the energy flowing while promoting teamwork and camaraderie.
But you can go overboard. At a past company, many people pushed themselves to the max to win those challenges, breathing heavily and sweating hard. The real goal, to get a quick boost of energy, was forgotten as people focused only on winning the competition.
That's why it's your job to ensure you and your team strike the right balance. The activities you choose should get their blood pumping -- but not exhaust your employees.
The goal is to generate a quick boost of energy and focus, not bleed it away.