Your Work and Your Energy — Managing the Flow


Your work rhythms matter.

More time to spend on your work — isn’t that what you’re always looking for?

And do you give away sleep time, leisure time, family time, and exercise time (to name a few) so that you can find more work time?

Think about it.

And if you’re stuck, here are a few questions to jog your memory:

  • When’s the last time you went to bed later than you’d intended to because you were working from home on a project?
  • Are you ever late for dinner or family events because you stayed at work to finish something up?
  • Do you skip going to the gym and get to your desk early many mornings so you can answer e-mails?

Your particular story may vary in its details, but the theme is the same. You’re giving short shrift to other things in your life in order to work more.

So, does it sound familiar?

The big, underlying illusion (and it is an illusion) is that the more work time you find, the more efficient, effective, and successful you’ll be.

The truth is different. The fact of the matter is that working beyond a certain point yields diminishing returns in terms of productivity and efficiency.

Work Time and Your Energy

When it comes to your energy and your ability to work effectively, here are two considerations to keep in mind:

  • Your energy level is variable, changing throughout the day. This means that your effectiveness and efficiency also fluctuate; and
  • You, me, all of us are finite beings. That means that we don’t have inexhaustible energy. Try thinking of your work activity the way you do about physical activity. That makes the point pretty vividly.

Research shows that, for many, a shorter workday helps increase productivity. It’s simply not true that adding more hours leads to comparable increases in productivity. This is especially true for work that requires focus and/or creativity.

Respect Your Rhythms

When it comes to work time, what seems to be optimal is establishing a rhythm that alternates activity and rest.  Your particular rhythms are going to be unique to you. But it’s indisputable that we humans have rhythms. Just think about your breaths, or your beating heart, if you aren’t sure about that.

And the other fact about work time that appears to be indisputable is that the more you push yourself beyond your physical capacity, the less effective you will be.  So working long hours, going without sleep, not giving yourself adequate food or exercise — all of these things that our culture actually encourages us to do — will substantially undermine your productivity.

Instead of pushing yourself, what really helps (and this is counter-intuitive for most of us) is to give yourself a break.  This is especially true when you are MOST stressed.

It requires great discipline – and might even feel risky – to follow through on this.

Work Time and Recovery Time

Again, what helps here is if you think of yourself as an athlete.  To train and perform at your peak you need to work your muscles AND give them time to rest and recover.  It’s the same with your brain.  You enhance your energy and attentiveness when you break up your work time with periods of rest and recovery.

The Pomodoro Technique is one very popular tool for doing this.  But it doesn’t address the length-of-the-work-day issue; that is something that you’ll need to make a separate decision about.

The bottom line is that, as you treat yourself better and give yourself the self-care and recovery time you need, you’re going to be more productive.

So I highly recommend that you take the risk of stepping back and thinking about decreasing your work time in order to increase your efficiency and effectiveness. And here’s to your time success.

Want more help?

Do you ever feel like you’re running on empty and there are no gas stations anywhere to be found? That’s what it’s like when you aren’t taking care of yourself.

It’s an awful feeling and one that’s all too familiar for many of us. In fact, if I had to guess, I’d say that finding time for self-care is one of the biggest challenges going. And I’ve created an E-Guide that addresses this challenge and offers you a path to creating your own, rejuvenating self-care routines and rituals. It’s titled “Self-Criticism or Self-Care? How Your Choices Define You, Your Time, and Your Life.”

This E-Guide gets right down to business as it offers questions, insights, and exercises aimed at helping you come to a deeper understanding of:

  • What gets in your way when it comes to taking care of yourself.
  • How your capacity for compassion is connected to self-care.
  • The activities that are most nurturing for you, and how to include them in your schedule, EVERY day.

To begin your self-care journey and claim your copy of “Self-Criticism or Self-Care? How Your Choices Define You, Your Time, and Your Life” click below:

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