2013 was an exhausting year for me.
I discovered that I was not exactly a morning person so you can imagine that the love-hate relationship I had with my phone alarm at 5 am. Or maybe it was just fatigue…
As 2013 came to a close, I was inspired by Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy’s HBR article that highlighted the following:
Most of us respond to the rising demands in the workplace by putting in longer hours, which inevitable takes a toll on us physically, mentally and emotionally. That leads to declining levels of engagement, increasign levels of distraction, high turnover rates and soaring medical costs among employees.
…The core problem with working longer hours is that time is a finite resource. Energy is a different story. Defined in physics as the capacity to work, energy comes from four main wellsprings in human beings: the body, emotions, mind and spirit. In each, energy can be systematically expanded and regularly renewed by establishing specific rituals-behaviours that are intentionally practiced and precisely scheduled, with the goal of making them unconscious and automatic as quickly as possible.
Schwartz and McCarthy go further to give tips on how to reform:
Conduct an energy audit: Identify energy-depleting behaviours and recognise their costs.
Identify rituals for building and renewing physical energy: We have been told over and over, the importance of healthy diets and exercise so I won’t belabour this point. In the words of Nike: JUST DO IT!
Our bodies need breaks at specific intervals. According to the article, ultradian rhythms are 90-120 minute cycles during which our bodies move from a high-energy state into a physiological trough. Towards the end of each cycle, the body begins to crave a period of recovery. the signals include physical restlessness, yawning, hunger and difficulty in concentrating…These breaks could include taking a walk, talking to a colleague, listening to music on your i-gadget, grabbing a glass of water at the cooler… Just move away from your desk and stretch.
Appreciating others goes a long way creating positive emotions. One can do this sending random handwritten ‘ Have a nice day!’ notes to colleagues or a simple phone call. You can take this a notch higher by schedule lunch dates with people to discuss issues that you are both interested in. Ensure that you are very specific on the goal of your meeting. This could be to recognise their accomplishments and learn more about their personal lives and aspirations.
Being human, we likely to play the victim when things to do work out as planned. Tha authors of this article encourage us to view the situation from three different lenses. The person viewing from the reverse lens asks “What would the other person in this conflict say and in what ways might that be true?” From the long lens perspective, one asks ” How will I most likely view this situation in 6 months?” while from the short lens “Regardless, of the outcome of this issue, how can I grow and learn from it”
I will let you read the rest of the article from the link above.
But in retrospect, I learnt a lot from the article (and I hope you will too!) and would like to share with you some of the changes that I will be making in my personal life:
I believe in being connected to the Ultimate source of energy. With the craziness of my schedule, I have relaxed on my prayer life and Bible study. I know. It’s never a valid excuse. However, looking back it happened gradually. Procrastinating once, twice until I realised that I had to dust my Bible when I was going to church. I would like to get back into meditatively read and learn from the Good Book. More recently, I have been inspired by Casting Crowns recent release Thrive based on Psalms 1.
I know for sure that there’s nothing as gratifying as working for a particular cause. I get this feeling every time I visit Kajiado’s Children’s Home and Rehabilitation Centre. I am looking forward to spending a whole week with the girls during my annual leave and hopefully make even a small impact in their lives. I have been inspired by blogger and TEDx alumna Hannah Brencher writes love letters to strangers (and is on an energy project of her own) What are you so passionate about that you would not hesitate to volunteer your time and other limited resources?
As much as possible, let US try to correct our emotional faults. Start with avoiding the 7 deadly sins that Gandhi talked about. Let US channel our anger, hate, fear and all those negative feels into perfecting your craft
Planning: As much I love hanging out coffee at Java, I will need to reduce the number of ‘dates’. Obviously within reason. I have come to learn that the concept of having intellectual conversations at a coffee shop has become over-glorified and can also put a dent in your bank or MPesa account. Don’t get me wrong. I actually go solo coffee dates with no apologies. But sometimes it becomes a bit too monotonous. I will be exploring more diverse and (close to) free options like walking in the parks or museums, finally using that gym membership or browsing through a flea market.
I will reduce staleness and monotony in my schedule by consciously blocking out time to do the things hat move me and hang out with people that inspire and love me. Yes. I will not be afraid to say to NO to activities that I either flake on or do things just to please others
Social media has gotten a bad rap for being an energy vampire with comparitis feeding it all the way. Well, I am limiting my hours on social media to during my morning commute (between approx 6.30-8.00am) and after 5pm. No more peeking at my Facebook and IG feeds before bedtime. Yes. I am subsituting that time for more focused meditation, reading, writing and squeezing in a couple more chores so that I can have more downtime over the weekend.
Surviving on caffeine and dreams was a huge contributor to my dramatic weight loss in 2012-13 and….having the doctor prescribe blood builder….and…constantly feeling drained. To avoid this in opportunity-filled 2014. I will ensure that I will have proper nourishment throughout the day. Got me a brand new water bottle, so that’s extra motivation to taking in a litre a day.
Clutter: Dear Reader, if you know of a Bookaholics Anonymous in the +254 area, holla at this sister. If owning more books than shoes is not a sign that I am the geek (at least for a girl) then I don’t know what is. My shelves and bedroom table are overflowing with books, magazines and interesting articles that I would like keeps. Well, before I get to that Bookaholics Anonymous meeting, I intend to participate in Jess Lively’s throw out 100 things challenge. I intend to go frugally green with paper. Yes, I have Bloglovin’ which keeps wonderful track of all the blogs I subscribe but I am still on the hunt for an app or online data store where I can curate all those uber-cool articles. Any suggestions?
There are those days that when you feel like you are in a constant daze and this always seems to happen when you have an upcoming important deadline. I know that you know what I am talking about. Well, Katie suggests the following strategies to tackle the fuzzy brain at work
So, friends, I give you permission to hold me accountable to the goals that I have I have set out for myself.
Did I miss something?
How are you improving your energy levels? I would love to hear your own stories and experiences via the comments section.
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