As a busy professional, you likely have highs and lows in your week…times when you feel a burst of energy and can get a lot done, and times where you feel lethargic or ready to take a nap. When you add an unusual element into a week (i.e. a business trip) your rhythm and energy level may be impacted even further. Here are some tips to help you plan for those “low energy” times so you can manage them more effectively.
- Acknowledge that you WILL have low energy times. We often expect too much of ourselves and want to sustain at the same pace all the time. That is unrealistic. There will always be an ebb and flow of energy. Give yourself grace. You’re not Superman or Superwoman. The rest of us can see that. 🙂
- Try not to plan activities or meetings that will demand high-energy at days and times when you typically don’t have that level of energy. For example, if you are not a morning person, planning a weekly early morning breakfast meeting may not be a good idea.
- Nourish yourself in a healthy way. Get to know your body’s needs and feed it well. For example, instead of depending on only a piece of candy or a cup of coffee to jazz you up, accompany it with a high protein snack. Keep healthy choices handy at your desk or in a lunch bag. Sometimes I make power smoothies to take with me and sip on throughout the day to avoid the hungries. Take a cat nap a couple of times a week during your lunch hour. Use your break times for true breaks like stretching, getting some fresh air, or reading a book purely for fun.
- Drink plenty of water. Water helps in so many ways and when your body is working more efficiently, you’ll feel more mental energy too. Think of water like you do gasoline for the car–it’s wise to keep the tank full for the long haul.
- Plan cushions. One cushion I often need is the re-entry time after a trip. I love to travel, but a trip with all its elements can be mentally draining and the first day back can be a low-energy one. It’s best if I can have several hours or even better, a full day to ease back into the normal routine. If you can’t have a re-entry day, try to plan a light task/meeting list for the first day back at the office (i.e. don’t dive back into major projects or creative work.) This allows you to catch up on email, refocus on your regular responsibilities, and reconnect with people and news you may have missed.
- Get outside regularly. There’s something about connecting with nature that reminds you that the world is a much bigger place than your little corner of it. This can dissipate those draining mindsets that come from too much self-focus.
- Exercise. You knew this was coming, right? Exercise is a challenge because it may not be something we enjoy. At the very least, find some way to incorporate extra movement into your days. Wear a pedometer and work on increasing your step count. Make a habit of taking a walk at lunch time 2-3 days a week. Incorporate some form of exercise into your morning routine. I have a stationery bike in my master bedroom that I try to use three times a week right now.
How about you? How do you manage your energy levels?