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How to Manage Energy and Why You Must

A few weeks ago I started a series of posts I’m calling Recover You. The series is focused on practices and habits that I believe lead to a healthier mind, body and spirit, a healthier business and ultimately a healthier economy.

You can catch the entire Recover You series here.

energy managementBusiness owners lack time more than anything else. And so, they concoct all manner of routine to try to help them manage this most precious resource.

But time can’t really be managed. We can’t make more, we can’t move it, we can’t even restructure it – all we can do is monitor how much we get done as we move through it.

Managing our energy is a more profitable pursuit than wrestling with time. We can manufacture energy, we can channel energy and we can use a variety of tools to remain conscious about the various types of energy we need to draw upon daily to get more done with the time we’re allotted.

Human energy is a fascinating concept.

As any business owner has likely learned it takes plenty of physical energy, or stamina perhaps, to run a business day in and day out. You likely work more hours than most, build up and hold a tremendous amount of stress and never fully come off the stage and out of the performance lights.

So while most acknowledge the drain of physical energy, few truly consider the emotional energy consumption that occurs as well. On top of the energy to get up do the work, running a business involves the need for energy that drives things like creativity, intention, purpose, love, intuition, and innovation.

When we neglect these forms of energy we lose touch with why we do what we do and business becomes a grind. I believe that owning a business is the greatest opportunity for peace, joy and happiness that exists in life, but it’s also the quickest way to have the life and energy sucked right out of you if you let it.

Over the years I’ve developed a few habits or rituals that I adhere to daily in my efforts to manage the energy I need to run my business. I certainly didn’t write this post to convince people to partake in any particular practice as much as to help people start to become more consciously aware of how important this idea of energy is in any pursuit.

Whenever it feels like I’m getting a little stuck in business it almost always because I’ve grown a little sloppy in the area of energy management.

These are my energy tools and hacks.

Meditation

I spend about 20 minutes in a very simple breathing form of meditation first thing. This really wakes me up, allows me to get centered for a bit and focus on my intentions for the day and beyond.

Yoga

I’ve fallen into a 15-minute series of poses that focuses on stretching and involving the organs and glands and just makes me ready to take on the day.

Exercise

I do some form of exercise, running, biking or strengthening, at least five times a week. I may spend as much as an hour or more in each session, but I always, always get this time back in terms of energy and productivity.

Planned interruption

Throughout my day I set a timer and never go over about 45 minutes without getting up and doing something. I keep a few kettle balls in the office and take quick movement refreshers throughout the day. We also have a couple puppies that hang out at the office and taking them out for a lap around the garden is always a great thing to do.

Windows

I’ve learned that I seem to be most productive in terms of creative type work in two very distinct windows of time each day. I suppose there are valid physiological reasons for this, but I plan my days accordingly and use those windows like a maniac.

Naps

I’m terrible at doing this habitually, but a 15-minute nap in the middle of the day is such an incredible thing to do. There’s an amazing amount of research that suggests the many benefits of this practice, but for me it’s such a great way to release the physical stress that builds up unconsciously during the day.

Evening

Honestly, I’ve never adopted a very good way to end the day. Perhaps you’ve got some ideas you could suggest as a way to wrap up, access or simply acknowledge and be grateful for another awesome block of time.

In fact, please share what works for you in this category in general, I’m always interesting learning about what works.

My Secret For Getting More Done Every Day

This post originally ran on American Express OPENForum and it seemed like a good Labor Day post.

Small business ownership is hard work. Physically demanding, stressful, mind numbing work—and that’s on the good days. But, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. One of benefits of owning a small business is that you are totally free—free to work any 80 hours a week you choose.

But no matter how efficient, there’s always more to do than time to do it.

For me, one of the secrets to getting more done each day is to pay attention to my physical energy and do everything I can to enhance, store and build it.

Spending time engaged in daily exercise is an example of an energy building practice that actually gives me time instead of costing time. In fact, some of what eventually turned into my greatest innovations and ideas presented themselves during an early morning run in the neighborhood.

Here are some of my other tricks:

  • Running: I started running for exercise in high school and it’s one of the most relaxing forms of energy creation for me.
  • Conscious eating: Whatever that might mean to you, it is another energy building practice.
  • Meditation and yoga: These are two powerful forms of stress reduction and energy building.
  • White noise generator: Simply Noise allows me to tune out distractions and gain instant focus.
  • Reading lyrical passages of literature: Passages such as those found in Anam Cara by John O’Donohue is energy and focus building.
  • Creating boundaries by shutting down technology: Doing this occasionally is a good energy building practice.

These are just some of the practices I keep in the energy toolbox.

Perhaps a lesson on healthy living seems odd on a business site, but it’s very hard to disconnect the physical you from the creative you in your business.

I suspect everyone knows they can take better care of the physical plant, particularly as we get older, but I wonder if you’ve considered the role this kind of energy building focus plays in helping you get more done, deliver purpose, maintain focus and bring only the healthiest emotions to the game.

Business owners are conditioned to think about assets and liabilities and ignoring your health and energy is one of the greatest ways to move a key asset (you) into the liability column.

I know that every single day I get some exercise, I get more done. Mind you, I don’t do it enough, but I can tell you that investing 30 of the 1,440 minutes I have in a day in energy building activities always doubles up and pays off in terms of increased productivity.

Go out and get a personal trainer, invest in a chef, create technology boundaries, start learning as much as you can about keeping your body and mind well—it one of the best business investments you can make in your business and your purpose.

Image credit: Peter Mooney