It’s a fact of life: we all have limited willpower. One thing that could make or break your willpower is your energy level. How many times have you avoided doing something that you know would make a big difference in your life, on account of “you’re tired”? Don’t worry I’ve been there too.
Just like time management, there is energy management. You don’t want to be a victim to feeling tired or not be able to perform at your A game when it’s your time to show up.
Here are some steps you can take to direct your energy so it becomes something you can rely upon, written from the perspective of a freelancer who manages her own schedule.
If you have an important task ahead of you, it’s helpful to prep yourself for the work. Ask yourself, does this need to be a marathon or a sprint? Do whatever it takes to get into the zone. That can be a routine or ritual or visualizing yourself working on the task.
Plan to have 20 minutes of buffer time where you do nothing before and after the task. The reason for this is our attention or focus is not so clear cut. If you are working on something and suddenly switch tasks, your attention takes a full 20 minutes to reorient itself.
Put it on airplane mode! “Attention residue” (described above) is not limited to long tasks. Visiting social media one minute, then your email, then the task at hand makes it so it’s not possible for your attention to be solely on the task you need to get done.
Take breaks—really take them. Too often we work through breaks whether it’s straight powering through or light touches. If you don’t let your brain know work is OVER it won’t be able to rest, and you need it rested to be able to manage your energy.
Don’t take on every project or request that comes your way. It’s doing a disservice to your current workload because you’ll have less focus to put on each item.
In the book Deep Work, Cal Newport covers how the most valuable work is the work made while in deep focus for long stretches of time with no distractions. From this you can see why it is wise to do less but for a longer period of time. According to the book, a novice can work for about an hour straight while an expert can work 4 hours with no problem.
Give the item in front of you all of your attention. You’ll get done quicker, and your work will be of higher quality.
Hi, I’m Diana Lopez! I’m a freelance web designer and developer who works with startups and small businesses. I create memorable & effective websites and brand identities. Interested in learning more? See my portfolio at pixelswithin.com →