How many of you feel like all that you do is work? Do you ever feel that you struggle to find time to spend with your family and friends? When you are with your friends and family are you really there? Is your quality and/or quantity of sleep less than you feel is adequate? If you answered yes, then you are not alone! In many organizations that we work with, it has been interesting to see how high-energy some employees appear to be , achieving so much with a seeming zest for life, while others seemingly work all of the time and appear to be exhausted. What accounts for these individual differences in energy, work-life balance, and overall getting work completed?
McCarthy and Schwartz were recently highlighted in the Harvard Business Review for their exceptional work on managing energy and NOT your time. In fact, organizations of all sizes and in all industries are expecting more work from their staff and as a result, their employees are working longer hours, burning out, getting sick, and finally, in worst cases, turning over. McCarthy and Schwartz pointed out that one may work longer hours at the office but there is a limit – it is finite! One’s personal energy is renewable and there are ways that the organization can support their staff in revitalizing this energy (Schwartz & McCarthy, 2007).
Although there may be other categories to consider, McCarthy and Schwartz elaborated on four energies to maintain (McCarthy and Schwartz, 2007).
• You can take small steps to maintain your physical energy by engaging in regular exercise which is defined as at least three to four days.
• Breaks are also important! Take small breaks; go for walks perhaps as frequently as every 90 minutes especially when you notice that your concentration is wandering.
• Ensure that you are getting adequate sleep – plan earlier and regular bedtimes.
• Breathe to the center! Yes, this deep breathing activity which extends down past your belly button can help diffuse negative emotions including stress and frustration.
• Appreciate others and yourself! This is an important one to keep in mind and is an easy one to get too busy to get to. When you have a small accomplishment, celebrate it! When someone does something nice or thoughtful, thank them!
• When facing a disappointing or unfortunate situation, try to look at it from another angle. How can you learn and grow from this situation?
• If you notice yourself being easily distracted by e-mails or phone calls, eliminate this distraction during high-concentration tasks and designate times to return these calls and e-mails.
• Reflect on your day! What went well? What didn’t? What do you want to accomplish tomorrow? Some may journal these.
• Engage in enticing and fulfilling activities! These differ for everyone! If you fall into the “too busy and don’t have time” category, put these activities in by design. This might be scheduling one hour per night for reading, catching up with friends, or community service activities.
Dani Kimlinger, MHA, PHR, Consultant, BizPsych
Schwartz, T., McCarthy, C. (2007). Manage Your Energy Not Your Time. Retrieved July 7, 2012, from Harvard Business Review website: http://ldr-rc-msgcu.org/wordpress/webcontent/uploads/2012/03/HBRs-10-Must-Reads-on-Managing-Yourself.pdf