How many times in one day do you use the word “time”?
- I don’t have time to do it now.
- Let’s talk about it when we have more time.
- How much time do we have left?
- I’ve run out of time, or OMG look at the time!
Time is our new 4-letter word. We never have enough of it because demand for it exceeds our capacity. Trying to do more than we can possibly fit into the 24-hour time frame given to us, leaves us running on fumes.
Managing energy not time
The answer isn’t to better manage our time; no matter how we manage it, we’ve only got 24 hours each day. So instead of managing our time we need to better manage our energy. (This is what Think Productive refers to the new concept of “time management”). Unlike time, energy can be renewed, and therefore, sustained. So the more energy we are able to renew through the day, the more fuel we have to stay productive, healthy and passionate about what we are doing. We’re not just talking about physical energy. We also derive emotional, mental and spiritual energy from how we live our lives and where we focus our attention.
So consider the following suggestions as your new energy boost: 1) Ways to create energy, and 2) ways to renew energy.
- Okay, we’re starting to sound like “mom”. But she was right about eating a good breakfast. Studies show that those who start the day with protein and a complex carb packed breakfast (think oatmeal) keep up their energy throughout the day.
- When you need a snack to give your body immediate fuel, opt for something low in sugar and saturated fat: e.g. a handful of almonds, an apple or banana with nut butter, veggies and hummus. Chocolate is another option. Flavonoids found in cocoa have been shown to boost cognitive skills and improve mood.
- Oxygen means energy, so get your blood pumping through exercise. Exercising in the morning is particularly good for kick-starting your metabolism.
- An alternative (and perhaps more entertaining) way to get oxygen pumping through your blood is singing! According to various studies, singing also significantly increased energy levels.
- Stay hydrated. When you skimp on water, the cells in your body shrink, so they can’t function as efficiently, triggering feelings of fatigue. So instead of reaching for another coffee, first try a glass of water.
- Keep on a regular schedule when you get up, sleep and go to bed. When body rhythms are disrupted, the body responds through fatigue in order to adjust. And when you do get up, open up the curtains. The sunlight that comes in gives you an immediate energy boost.
- Most importantly, respect your body’s need to take a break. We are big advocates of the Pomodoro technique – working for 25 minutes, followed by a 5 minute break. When elite performers, including musicians, athletes, actors and chess players were studied at Florida State University, it was found they typically practice in uninterrupted sessions that last no more than 90 minutes. They begin in the morning, take a break between sessions, and rarely work for more than four and a half hours in any given day.
- Go outside when you need a break or are feeling sluggish. Just being outdoors has proven to boost mood as well as energy.
- Take cold shower—three minutes is enough to fight fatigue. Even splashing cold water on your face makes a difference.
- Turn off for 5-10 minutes! Walk, run or just sit and breath deeply to calm the mind and yes, meditate (or whatever you’d like to call it). Your brain “on silence” can be tremendously renewing.
- A short power nap (10-20 minutes) renews your energy without interfering with nighttime sleep.
- Laughter’s a proven stress-buster, but studies suggest laughing can boost energy levels, too. You may not have enough jokes to last the entire day, but it’s worth a try!
By Beth Parker
Beth Parker is a Canadian author and ghostwriter engaged in a continual struggle to balance the needs of her business with the welcomed chaos of five children, a husband and various pets. She has a BA (English), University of Toronto, and an MA (Journalism). In her fictional spare time, she paints pictures.