Saving your own energy

We are continually being urged to save energy, but what about our own energy? Managing your own energy wisely can be more important than managing your time. Even if you are good at managing your time, you may still arrive home too exhausted to enjoy your own time and your work-life balance will be impacted.

As with time management there are habits and practices many people slip into that affect our energy usage and balance.

The first is not taking sufficient breaks, such as cramming in working lunches. For a break to be a break it needs to be a “switch off” for our minds.  Putting ourselves into “standby mode” or simply doing a different type of work as a substitute for a proper break doesn’t do it. Working through breaks has a similar affect to drinking too much coffee or eating too much sugar – it makes for more dramatic peaks and troughs in our energy curve. The more we rush from one activity or event to another the more this is the case. The ideal is to have a short break in between each type of activity you do. The right type of break generates refreshment and energy - just like sleep. Any athlete knows this, and it’s the same in business – you simply cannot work at peak performance all the time.

This leads to a second consideration – when is the best time to do particular tasks? It’s best to undertake tasks that require your maximum creative and mental energy when you are at your peak in a day. When you’re low in energy, that’s the best time for more routine tasks. Obviously you can’t control this all the time, but if you do it when you can it will pay dividends.

The third consideration relates to interruptions and distractions. Thinking you can multitask and write a report at the same time as handle lots of phone calls and incoming mail is folly. Every project manager knows that it take a lot more effort to complete a task on a part-time basis than when the task is done in a concentrated time-span. They even plan for the fact.

The advice is to dedicate concentrated periods of time. Too many distractions and interruptions blur the focus and waste energy. After all, many great authors and composers would never have completed their best work without a summer retreat.

As a final thought, the biggest drainers of our energy are negative emotions. Excessive worry, unresolved conflicts, too much indecision; these are all big energy burners. I often wonder how much energy and time is wasted over endless unproductive speculation about organisational change, mergers, take-overs and competition. If you can’t influence it – don’t worry about it.

A successful economy means being economical. It’s worth remembering that your emotional energy is valuable – use it wisely.


To contact Nick Woodeson, please email him at