How much do you think about time management? If you're like most busy professionals, the answer is, quite a lot. You're always trying to squeeze the most productivity you can out of every minute you spend at work. You hate being limited by the 24-hour day.
Managing our limited time is well and good, says Sandja Brügmann, serial entrepreneur and founder of the Passion Institute, a conscious leadership, strategic purpose, and sustainable business consultancy for executives and entrepreneurs. But we should all be focused on something even more important--managing our limited energy.
While time is finite, Brügmann says there are things we can do every day to give our energy a boost and be more effective and productive at work. "It requires you to be self-observant and become aware of which behaviors increase your energy, and which zap you in a zip," she says.
Here's her advice for upping your own energy quotient:
1. Be choosy about who you spend time with.
"Spend time with people who leave you feeling energetically uplifted," Brügmann says. Paying close attention to how you feel after spending time with friends and colleagues will help you figure out who makes you feel energized--and who doesn't. "Set healthy boundaries surrounding how much time you spend engaging with people who drain your energy," she says.
2. Choose energy-boosting foods.
"See food as your source of energy and fuel, not something purely for pleasure," Brügmann advises. "Get to know your body and see how it reacts to different foods." In general, she adds, organic and whole foods, and vegetable-packed juices, smoothies, and salads support energy and vitality.
3. Give yoga a try.
Few things refresh both your body and mind as completely as a regular yoga practice. And while some people (like me) appreciate the communal quality of attending classes at a yoga studio, others prefer the quick hit they can get anytime by following online or television yoga classes. Either can be highly beneficial. "Your body, mind and soul will thank you for the stretching, detoxifying, centering and strengthening that occurs through yoga postures," Brügmann says.
4. Make time for meditation, or stillness, and solitude.
"Scientific evidence shows us that meditation is good for performance, clarity, inner peace and contentment," Brügmann says. "Phil Jackson, a top ranking NBA coach with 11 NBA championships under his belt, has been using meditation for years with his players."
Proven benefits of meditation include not only stress reduction, but also better focus, the ability to better manage emotionally difficult situations, increased empathy, greater resiliency, and an improved ability to deal with fear. All those factors should be enough to persuade you that it's worth making time for meditation in your busy schedule--and even five minutes a day, or a few moments' meditation at your desk can make a big difference.
But if it's just not your thing, Brügmann says, "You can still find your own way of tuning into yourself in stillness, silence and solitude by making an intentional and mindful effort to take part in your favorite and most nurturing activities, such as walking, being in nature, swimming and gardening." All these activities are meditative in nature, and they all will help you rebuild your energy level.
5. Get some exercise.
It may seem paradoxical, but it's really true that--even though it takes energy--exercise gives you more energy than you had before, especially the kind of mental energy most professional jobs require. So, Brügmann says, "Make sure you find ways to exercise and move your body in ways that feel energetically uplifting to you. If you dread the gym, then maybe dancing is more your thing. If you have a difficult time self-motivating, get a workout group or buddy."
What if you just can't get yourself to want to exercise? "Consider changing your mindset from 'I have to do this,' to 'Because I love myself, and I want to ensure vitality and health for myself and those I love, I will maintain a healthy body.'" It's an attitude adjustment that's well worth it.
6. Make sure to get the sleep you need.
It's so tempting to try and get more hours out of the day by sleeping for fewer of them. That's a bad, bad idea, Brügmann says. "Sleep research from NASA shows that employees who nap for a minimum of 30 minutes every day are up to 35% more productive than their competitors," she noes. "When we are rested, we can see the big picture and lead from a better place."
7. Make time for play.
"It has become a cultural coolness factor to be extremely busy, serious and hard working," Brügmann says. "However, we have that all wrong. Play and laughter builds energy, contentment, connection and productivity. Research shows the easiest way to increase productivity is not more vacation, bigger paychecks, or improved benefits. Instead, you and your employees should play more."
8. Follow your passions.
Ideally, your work is already something you're passionate about, especially since it likely takes up such a big part of your life. If so, Brügmann says, "You have thus found your purpose and you are spending the majority of your work life in your passionate zone of genius."
Whether that describes you, or whether you are still trying to find work that you really enjoy, she adds, "it is important to spend time doing things you love."