If you have your sights set on reaching the top of any organization, executive energy management could be a key to your success. According to a Harvard Business Review study, an investment in learning how to manage your energy will pay off big time by improving productivity and personal satisfaction at work, as well as reduce the likelihood that you’ll experience burn out.
Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, executive energy management isn’t something that most companies focus on, and instead, focus more on developing skills, knowledge and job competence. That means that when work demands increase, many executives increase the time they spend working, instead of managing energy and focus to get more done faster.
However, considering the many benefits of managing energy well, it may be worth the time to learn and practice managing yours. Even iPEC, one of the country’s leading executive coach training programs, focuses significantly on energy management. Their primary assessment tool, called Energy Leadership Index, measures various energy management components.
If you’re sick of feeling stressed out and depleted, or if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and burned out, try some of these tactics to improve your energy.
Many high achievers spend their days glued to their chair, working away at a furious pace, wondering why they feel exhausted all the time. Finding ways to include more movement in your day is a great way to re-energize your body and clear your mind.
According to The Muse, taking a walking break several times a day can improve concentration, increase creativity and boost your mood. Shockingly, exercising for a total of 60 minutes over the course of a day, regardless of how you break it up, can cut your mortality risks in half. Wow!
Add move breaks to your calendar each day. Maybe you walk to the coffee shop down the street at 9AM every morning, or if working from home, you plan a break to walk the dog for 15 minutes. Plan another walking break in the afternoon. The minutes (and energy benefits) add up quickly.
If you can find a way to walk outside, you’ll get the additional energy benefits associated with natural light. Natural light can improve your energy, mood, and sleep so it’s an all-around winner.
Also consider getting in a walk or quick workout at lunchtime. My workout studio offers a 12PM 50-minute class each day, which is perfect for a lunch-time workout.
Even if you can’t get a walk or a workout in, experts say just making an effort to stand up every hour or 30-minutes has health and energy benefits.
You probably already know that strength training can reduce body fat, increase lean muscle mass and help burn calories more efficiently. But did you know it can improve your energy levels as well?
According to MDLinx.com, there are many hidden benefits of strength training, including improving mood, boosting enery levels, reducing anxiety and improving sleep. Strength training provides so many benefits that the US Department of Health and Human Services recommends strength training for all ages.
According to experts, it is best to strength train a minimum of 2 days per week, but 3 days a week is ideal. Your training sessions can be as short as 15 – 45 minutes.
Luckily, there’re lots of options for strength training. Some of the most effective exercises use your own body weight to build muscle, such as pushups, squats, or planks. Simple equipment like dumbells, kettle bells and resistance bands can be used as well.
This is an awesome YouTube video that teaches strength training with no equipment.
Kill the Distractions
Distractions are everywhere all the time, fighting for your attention. This leads to lack of productivity and can drain your energy as well.
One tactic to try is to set a timer for a block of time – such as 60 or 90 minutes – and perform one specific task during that time. Turn off your email, phone, text notifications, call notifications, and any other messaging or notification tools you may have. It’ll be extremely difficult at first to ignore the world during this time, but you’ll likely be stunned at what you can accomplish during an uninterrupted hour.
After your timer goes off, check your messages and respond for a set period of time, take a break, and do it all over again.
Another tactic that Tim Ferriss promotes to reduce distractions in his book The 4-Hour Workweek is to only check email and voice mail at two specific times per day. For example, maybe you check email once at 11:00AM and once at 4:30PM, and otherwise have email closed with no notifications. He recommends you put an automatic reply on your email letting everyone know that you only check email 2 times a day in order to increase your productivity. That keeps the email and voice mail from distracting you all day long.
I find that I’m less distracted first thing in the morning and my mind focuses better. Pay attention to the best time for you to get work done quickly, reduce distractions, and get to work! Regardless of how you do it, reducing distractions is a must-do for productivity increases and energy management.
Yes, sleep more is hardly revolutionary advice. But I always give it to people. Why? Because it works.
Sleep is the single most important thing we need to feel good and maintain energy levels. Sleep deprivation leads to brain fog, irritability, poor impulse control, high stress, and much more.
Need some tips on getting better sleep? Try these tactics:
- Stop eating 3 hours before bed. This will allow your body time to fully digest before you go to sleep, reducing disruptions to your sleep cycles.
- Stick to a consistent sleep schedule as much as possible.
- Stop using electronics one hour before bed or use TrueDark glasses to block blue light.
- Try sleep meditation to relax your mind and body. YouTube has a lot of great guided sleep meditations to try.
So, make it a point to sleep for at least seven hours per night. If you’ve had a particularly stressful day, try going to bed even earlier. You will be re-energized and better equipped to deal with all the issues tomorrow.
Monitor your Emotions
Learning to control your emotions can significantly stabilize and increase your energy levels.
Whether your boss is demanding something, you made a huge mistake at work, or your are arguing with co-workers, all of these situations (and many more) can trigger your body’s fight or flight response. According to psychologytools.com, this response is an automatic reaction to an event that is perceived as stressful or frightening.
The fight or flight response can increase heart rate and blood pressure, constrict blood flow, increase respiration rate, and cause muscle tension. All of these can drain energy and leave you feeling tired and defeated.
Next time you find yourself in a stressful situation, protect your energy by trying the following activities:
- Try deep breathing or mindfulness affirmations. You can also search YouTube for a guided breathing meditation. This can calm your body and help you lessen the fight or flight response.
- Take a walk to clear your mind and relax your body.
- Observe and accept both your body’s response to stress as well as the event that caused the stress. If you’ve messed something up or gotten into an argument, accept that it has already happened and it’s in the past. You can change the future, but not the past.
Stress and your body’s reaction to it can drain energy very quickly, but by being aware of what’s happening and finding ways to manage your response will pay dividends in managing your energy.
Drink Less Alcohol
I know, I know. No one wants to hear this. But the bottom line is, alcohol is bad for your body and if you’re striving for the highest levels of performance and energy, it should be limited.
Alcohol dehydrates and causes inflammation in your body. It can also weaken your immune system, reducing your ability to fight off sickness.
According to bulletproof.com, some alcohols do less damage than others. The best choice is vodka because it is distilled and charcoal filtered, so your body will have to deal with the alcohol, but no other toxins. If you mix it with a sugar, it is a substantially worse choice, so choose a mixer wisely. Other *less* damaging alcohols are gin, tequila and whiskey. The most damaging: Beer.
If you do choose to drink, Bulletproof provides the following tips:
- Choose less toxic types of alcohol.
- Hydrate well with water. Drink one glass of water for every serving of alcohol you consume.
- Take an activated charcoal supplement after you’re done drinking as it binds to toxins and helps eliminate them.
Fuel Your Body
Fueling your body for the maximum energy is one sure way to increase productivity. I recommend two books to dramatically increase your energy. They’ve worked for me.
I loved the bo The Energy Paradox by Dr. Steven Gundry. He believes that feeling low on energy and tired all the time is not normal, regardless of your age or how heavy your workload. The book provides a lot of great information as well as a diet to follow and recipients to use. Even if you only implement some of his suggestions, you will get an energy boost. He also provided a shopping list for foods to buy and not buy.
I’ve also talked about my experience with The Bulletproof Diet by Dave Asprey. This book suggest some of the same types of things as The Energy Paradox, but Dave talks about his experience as an overweight, low energy executive who was experiencing cognitive decline along with other physical and mental issues. Through trial and error, and consulting with some of the best doctors in the country, he developed a diet that boosts energy and focus.
Both books have a list of suggested vitamins and supplements you can take to improve energy, but the one thing all health experts seem to agree on is that we should all be taking a daily vitamin D supplement. In addition to increasing your energy, vitamin D is important for bone strength, immune function, and reducing inflammation in the body.
If you want a quick solution to more energy, take three steps. 1. Reduce processed food in your diet, 2. Eliminate added sugars, 3. Double your water intake. Nearly every health expert agrees that doing these three things will multiply your energy and your performance.
We spend so much of our time working. It’s important to find meaning in your work as it can give you so much more energy and satisfaction.
Some find it difficult to find meaning in their work, but here are some tips:
1. Make yourself meaningful to others
This may seem counter-intuitive, but helping others get their work done or goals achieved could help you find meaning. Mentor someone or find someone struggling with a project to provide meaningful help to. Build relationships with those around you, which can give you a sense of meaning.
2. Connect to the problem your company solves for others
Your company is there for a reason. Is the reason something you can personally connect to and take pride in? For example, if you work for a bank, your work helps people save money, can help them get a home loan, etc.
3. Remember why you are working in the first place
Are you supporting a family? Pursuimg personal goals? Supporting yourself and your desire to travel and experience enw things? Saving for your retirement? Remember all the important things your job contributes to in your life.
4. Be a part of something larger
Most companies give back to the communities they are in. Does your company donate money, give employees a chance to financially contribute to a cause, or encourage employee volunteering while being paid? If so, remember that you are part of a larger organization that gives back to your communigy.
It’s not all about the money. Remembering the resources and opportunities your job brings you and your family, the community and others is important. Finding meaning can energize you and inspire you to bring your best to work each day.
Energy Management Takes Practice
Prioritizing and practicing energy management can elevate your performance, and also increase your passion and energy for life, especially if you’re an introvert.
If you don’t want to spend your hours working away, bringing focused energy to your work will drive outcomes for you and your company. Increasing your energy, while decreasing the amount of time to produce results in a win-win.