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Have you ever imagined how freeing it would be to work for yourself and work from home?
While it’s true that not having someone else looking over your shoulder at work can be a big relief, running your own business is a lot of hard work. It requires dedication, responsibility, and incredible self-management skills. And working from home presents its own set of challenges, like not surfing YouTube or deciding to go shopping when you’re feeling stuck.
But I think the biggest productivity booster in my business life didn’t come from a planner or a calendar, but rather from finding ways to feel energetically balanced.
Balancing your energy (no crystals required)
I realize it may sound a little New Age to talk about balancing your energy to be more productive, but it’s been an essential part of my productivity and business strategy. For me, feeling productive is less about time management and more about energy management.
I’ve blogged about time management before, and if you find yourself spending hours on Facebook and before you know it the day’s over, then you definitely need to look at your time management. But that’s never really been my problem. I’m pretty good at sitting down and doing the work when I need to. But some days, I found I was so exhausted at the end of the day, it was as though I’d put in 20 hours instead of 6 or 8.
In my experience with my own business and through coaching others, I know that starting and running a business is tough, and you can’t just keep at it all the time. Some tasks will drain your energy much more than others – launching your website, speaking about your business, being on video, sales conversations, anything where you are breaking new barriers will require more of your energy than just answering email or posting to Facebook.
The first time I stood up and spoke about my business, and it was only briefly, a very wise lady told me to rest the next day because I had expended a lot of energy. When I first did sales conversations, I wouldn’t do any other client calls on those days. Even now, certain activities take it out of me more than others.
That sounds woo woo but it really is true. Some parts of business drain your energy. Which parts those are will differ from person to person. Some people love to blog, while other people find it incredibly draining. Some people get energized working with clients in a group setting, while for others that would be a nightmare.
I find managing my ENERGY to be much more important than managing my time. We can only take on so much in a day, we only have so much bandwidth, so don’t beat yourself up about not being able to keep at it.
Some practical ways to manage your energy
Managing your energy is about being aware of and open to understanding when your energy is high and when it’s low – and then tailoring your days and weeks around that knowledge. It’s also about checking in with yourself regularly and asking “Of all the things I have to do what makes sense for right now?”.
Here are some examples:
- Eat the frog. For a lot of people, addressing unpleasant or uncomfortable tasks first will help them have better energy throughout the rest of their day or week. I do this by doing all the little annoying tasks on Mondays so I don’t have anything hanging over me.
- Listen to your needs. There may be days when you need a nap, or an episode of your favourite TV show, or a walk in the park. Listen to and honour that need! If I need to rest, I rest. On days when I video I pretty much don’t do anything else, because even though I’m learning to love video right now it’s still energetically draining for me.
- Pay attention to your natural ebb and flow. I try and manage my tasks when I have the right energy for them. For example, I work best in the mornings and the evenings so that’s when I work. I find (bizarrely) I can do tasks that require more concentration in the evening. If things need to get done and some are easier than others, I’ll check in with myself and see which of them I can handle right now. If you’re a morning person, you might schedule intense tasks like sales calls, content creation, or similar for the morning hours, and handle answering email later in the day.
- Change your perspective. I also move rooms, work with my laptop on the sofa, in bed at times, just so I can feel like there is a change of scene and change of energy. Plus, if I have an outdoor task to do (going to the post office or something) I use that to break up the day so I come back fresh.
I want to hear from you.
How do you manage your energy?
Are you aware of tasks that are more energetically draining or ones that pump you up?
Do you know what time of day you’re most energetic?
This business of starting a business is hard work, and we need to be kind to ourselves and work with our energy flow, not against it. I’d love to hear your thoughts, and if you’d like to read more about energy and workflow, check out The Power of Full Engagement.