Managing Your Unique Energy Matrix
24th July 2018
— The Importance of Managing Energy and Not Time —
Science understands that individuals are made up of whirlpools of energy, a collection of atoms, constantly spinning and vibrating, with each one of us radiating our own unique energy signature. But how much do we consider our physical make-up when structuring our week? How can we optimise our time and energy at work?
Words: Evelyn O’Toole, CEO & Founder, CLS
Respect the ebb and flow of energy
Did you know that research has shown that judges and interviewers tend to make more favourable decisions in the morning compared to the afternoon? This can be attributed to when they are at their peak energy level during the day. While we all have the same 24 hours in a day, not all our hours are created equal. By considering the peaks and troughs of our energy levels throughout the day, and by working on harnessing our unique cycle of productivity when tackling our to-do lists we can maximise our unique energy matrix throughout the day. For example, I know I am typically more productive in the morning time and tend to experience a dip in energy after lunch and therefore schedule my day to prioritise client meetings or financial reviews that may require a lot energy and focus in the morning time.
The energy of procrastination
Tomorrow (noun): a mystical land where 99% of all human productivity, motivation and achievement is stored. I don’t know many who are immune to the plague of procrastination, never more so than in the workplace. A simple coffee break leads to a chat with a colleague about their recent holiday, and before we know it we’ve whiled away half an hour weighing up the differences between living la dolce vita on the Amalfi coast and sipping Cuba Libres in Havana. It can be helpful to look at why we are procrastinating when beginning a task – do you think of all the ways it could go wrong? Do you subscribe to the idea that “if I do well, then others will expect more of me”? Do you find it difficult to persist when things aren’t going just as you had planned?
Rather than laziness, procrastination is often a result of perfectionism, a fear of failure, or even a fear of success. Procrastination is also a huge energy sapper, and can negatively affect your mood. And while it can be tempting to berate yourself for hesitating, it’s important to accept that distractions are inevitable – human beings have a limited attention span, and can only focus on a single task for so long. If a serious bout of thumb twiddling sets in, I’m also a firm believer in productive procrastination. Make the most of distracted periods by ticking less-taxing items from your to-do list, such as catching up on emails and filing paperwork.
A Sunday well spent brings a week of content
. . . Or a Thursday, or a Friday for that matter! I’m a firm believer in carving out time from a busy schedule for self-care to help with managing our energy so that we can perform at our optimal levels. It is a very real and tangible way of improving and maintaining good performance at work. For me, this means taking a walk on the beach in my native Clifden, sharing a meal with loved ones or simply pottering – one of my life time favourites. For others it might mean taking a dip in the sea, going for a massage, or simply curling up with a good book.
When it comes to energy it’s important to note how our unique energy matrix works, to identify what our energy sappers are, to establish boundaries around them, and to seek support when we need it. Too often people can compromise wellbeing for the sake of work, but it’s important to remember that our professional and personal lives are two sides of the same coin, each one dependent on the other.
Let us always try and keep perspective, measure our difficulties with their true value in life and not sweat the small stuff.
Evelyn O’Toole is the Founder and CEO of Complete Laboratory Solutions (CLS). She is a 2018 WMB Diversity Ambassador and a previous recipient of the WMB Businesswoman Award.