It’s been a long time, but I’m back and will hopefully be posting articles at least once a week for the foreseeable future.
I guess I needed some time away from the screen and felt like I wanted to think carefully about what to put out there through my blog. I have been doing a lot of introspective work over the past few months, and in the near future I will probably share some of the things I have been reading and doing, but I felt mentally drained, and believed I didn’t have the energy to muster up blog posts for a while. I’m back with the bit between my teeth and hoping to motivate and inspire at least one person to take action and make their lives better.
The subject of energy is a good one to start with as I think it is something that is regularly mis-understood.
People like to think of energy as something that can ebb and flow due to lifestyle factors, and I believe there is a large portion of truth to that. But I have a bit of a paradox from my own experience that does not correlate.
In theory I should have the least amount of energy now than in any other period in my life. I have two children under the age of four, and I work in one of the most stressful environments there is to work in (teaching and education) I should be destroyed every night.
But, it’s not working that way. In fact I would say that the opposite is true. The more I try to fit things in and tend to all my responsibilities, the more energy I have.
How is this possible when I a running on less than optimal sleep and have spent many nights praying to the God of sleep to come and sort it out?
I believe the answer lies in perception.
Do you see completing tasks as draining or empowering? Do you look at your work and feel overwhelmed or do you feel motivated?
One little trick I have learnt that seems to help change my perception of workload and increase my performance is to break down a difficult task into smaller chunks.
Take for example marking a set of books. If I think of the task as marking a whole set of books from start to finish, then I can’t muster up the energy to get going on the task. What I started doing instead was to think of the task of three sets of ten books. This seemed much more do-able. I would just start with ten books and see how I felt after that. Most times, I would then have the motivation and momentum to tackle the other 20 and get all the work done. The task was not any different, but my perception of the work load was greatly influenced by seeing the task in smaller chunks.
I got this idea of chunking from my workout regimen.
I was not having great success with my training programme. I seemed to be moving heaven and earth in my sessions but had nothing to show for it. This was discouraging and was really getting me down. I was close to giving up on my sessions, but I decided to not do that, but change my approach.
Using the format championed by Pavel Tsatsouline, I decided to reduce my workout to the bare essentials and really drill down on only the essential parts. He said something in his book “Simple and Sinister” that really resonated with me. “Training should give back to you and should never be taking away from you” I took that to mean that I should be benefitting from my workouts in my strength levels, fitness and in how I was feeling. I now use that rule of thumb with tasks in my life as well. Is what I am doing going to result in gains in my life, or is the activity literally a waste of energy.
With this approach, I almost treat my energy level like a budget to be spent wisely on activities that are an investment of my time.
Because I view most of the activities I take part in with this perception, I am usually highly motivated to perform tasks and activities to the best level that I can.
Where I can have energy dips is where this budget is not properly balanced. If I hammer one aspect of my life to the detriment of other areas, I then leak energy and feel less effective in my day to day life. Balancing all your responsibilities is difficult and challenging, but the pay-off is better than feeling overwhelmed and stressed because things are not as they should be.
Think carefully about how you are spending your time. It is the one resource you can never get back once you have spent it.
Have you thought carefully about the things you are doing and what impact they have on your energy level, mood and state of mind?
What is one simple change you could make today that could make a huge difference in your life?
Have you ever tried looking at a difficult task in smaller chunks and tackling them one chunk at a time? It could make all the difference when completing that challenging project.
I wish you the best