Managing your energy and engagement
So stop trying to be superman! No matter how well you want to perform, a conscious management of your resources is key to keeping your engagement. Otherwise, you risk losing your energy or even your health. If you still believe that you can’t afford to feel “overstrained” and that you always have to go all-out…
…then think of a marathon runner. Does he run a 26 mile race every day? Obviously not. After the marathon itself, he recovers from his peak with periods of rest and progressive training. Needless to say, it’s impossible to maintain a 100% energy level all day long or even throughout a career.
If you look at the energy quadrant, you’ll see four basic energy levels. These are responsible for our mood and our engagement with our organisation.
With a high level of positive energy, you feel happy and dynamic. This is the ideal state for you and your company. You’re fully engaged, ready to change the world. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to maintain this state forever.
Its counterpart is a high level of negative energy which comes mostly from ongoing frustration or too much pressure. Negative emotions are the result. In this state, people are not feeling at all engaged. If this attitude spreads over to others it poisons the whole atmosphere.
A low level of negative energy can originate because you’ve been trying too hard to maintain your high level of positive energy. You’ve ignored the warning signs and your good efforts have been reversed. Now you’re exhausted, close to burning out. Once you’re in this state it’s difficult to overcome weariness or feelings of being trapped. Your engagement is broken and the way back is hard. So it’s better to remain in the “green zone” and to avoid entering this state.
We’ll always encounter obstacles which put our energy at a risk. This is something we can’t change while we’re part of the corporate world and human beings. What we can influence however is to deliberately enter the low level of positive energy by allowing ourselves to slow down. This way we respect our natural resources and prevent ourselves from slipping into the dangerous red zones.
Today, the most common way to intentionally disengage is to take a holiday, which certainly helps… and it’s not enough! If you want to maintain your good energy while having packed days, you have to make daily micro-decisions and actions which help you to take care of yourself. Here some tips:
Do you work from nine to five and have lunch at your desk? If so, stop doing this. Short pauses and longer breaks are essential if you want to stay focused. It also helps you to not feel frustrated at the end of the day (I’m a modern working slave). Instead: I’m the one who’s in control of my working day, not the other way round.
When tensions and to do lists become stifling or when you come back to your desk after long meetings, it’s time to get out and concentrate on yourself. A short breathing meditation helps you to get back in the “driver’s seat”: Happiness Challenge meditation
A HBR article says that we spent 9.3 hours a day sitting and only 7.7 hours sleeping. From health studies, we know that too much sitting is harmful whereas movement reduces tension and makes us feel better. So try to combine your lunch time with a walk, take in the outside world and think about something different. In Silicon Valley some companies already practice a walking-meeting culture. If you want to think outside the box, then get out of the box, literally.
You love your electronic gadgets and you need them close to you. Try to have pauses to keep your distance and avoid a constant message flow. Disconnect at certain hours and learn to enjoy your “loneliness”.
Sleep is one of the first things we’re willing to sacrifice in busy times. We believe we get one more hour of productivity when we sleep one hour less. In reality, sleep deprivation is unhealthy and impacts our mood and brain power negatively.
There’s also a risk of waking up during the night when you’re worried about unfinished to do lists and unresolved issues. So just before you go to bed, write down what’s on your mind. This way you free your mind and it will be easier to fall asleep. Don’t work with your laptop sitting in your bed before you want to sleep. Instead, create your own rituals to help you rest (drinking a cup of herbal tea, yoga exercises, listening to music or reading a novel).
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