How to manage your energy at work
Work has changed. How we think about it, how we approach it and how much it is a part of our lives. It has changed due to the pandemic, but this only accelerated change that has been coming for decades. You may now be working from home, or back in the office or perhaps a combination of both. Regardless, the working day is still present in one form or another. We all still have deadlines, targets and other everyday pressures that we must achieve and tackle. It is easy to get fatigued, lose focus or simply be working on autopilot doing the bare minimum. Keeping energy up has always been a challenge, no matter where you are working from. Here, we will look at some ways to help keep your energy up.
You are what you eat. Well, at least the old saying goes but we know now that this is not necessarily true as diets and individual nutritional needs vary greatly, but fundamentally you must remember that food is fuel. It is what creates energy in your body and should be your first consideration when you are feeling fatigued daily. Ideally you should be eating foods that release their energy slowly throughout the day and top up when you need too. This means food high in proteins and (yes) fats. A whole grain breakfast, high fibre veg’s and nuts throughout the day will release their sugars slowly, so are ideal for setting you up and getting you through the day. Of course, this is a general guideline, and you should research further your own dietary needs.
Getting a proper night’s sleep is essential to living. It helps to reduce stress, helps the body and mind to heal, improves productivity and improves memory retention. A proper night’s sleep means getting the right amount of sleep, getting too much is as bad as getting to little. It can be hard to fall asleep, there are many distractions like our phones, housework or simply wanting more ‘me’ time but it is so important to maintain a discipline about sleep. You will find simply following this and an improved diet will go such a long way in making you feel better at work or at play. For more check out the following: https://www.intheblack.com/articles/2013/08/01/are-you-losing-sleep-over-work
Focus on your priorities
I wanted to include a section on reducing stress at work, which I will talk about a little bit later, but when someone is stressed, it is very hard to tell them not to be! Stress has to be managed and broken down, it cannot just disappear. Only a change in habits and a control over your own expectations and what others expect from you can do for those around you will help reduce this burden. What I mean is that we can only manage so much at any one time. Likely you have a huge list of tasks to complete and many people asking for them yesterday. You cannot do them all. At least not at once. Follow the 3 things rule. This is simply that you only list 3 things you must complete that are of absolute priority. Forget the rest. Once one of the 3 things is complete, replace it with the next most important. Eventually you will complete your tasks. Alternatively you can follow the 1:3:5 rule.
As you can see, this is one big thing, 3 medium things and 5 small tasks. By alternating between these it is also a good way to break up your day!
Take a mini vacation
A great way to manage stress and improve focus is to practice mindfulness: https://www.mindful.org/take-a-mindful-moment-5-simple-practices-for-daily-life/ – however this is a vast topic for its own blog. It is rich in ways to help deal with all types of mental health issues. However, one part of this that is a great little thing to put into your day is the mini vacation. This is the idea that you simply take a break to do something that you enjoy but treat it like an actual vacation. That means allotting a certain amount of time to it and then returning to your work when it is over. But that time you allot to it, it is all yours to do something that you really enjoy. This can be anything from having a coffee with no interruptions, watching a YouTube video or taking time to chat to a co-worker.
Exercise is great for the mind but it does not have to be strenuous. I admire people that can go out and run for their break but I also cannot see myself doing it. But I walk and that is enough. Simply going outside to get air, seeing other people going about their daily lives and enjoying being outside no matter the weather reminds us that there is more to life than work but work is what we must focus on right now. If you are in a habit of taking breaks at your desk, this is a quick way to get fatigued, uninterested, and depressed about what you do. Going outside helps break up the day and adds variety to your work day. A simple walk can do so much to clear the mind or help you to solve that problem that you have been working on all week.
There is no one size fits all when it comes to helping energy at work. Your body and mind are first and foremost the most important thing to pay attention to and you can help it by eating right and getting enough sleep. What you find to help you cope throughout the day will change from the next person, but I hope that some of the tips here will help improve your workday!