Manage Your Energy Like The Pope

Energy in hand

 

I was recently reading an article about Pope Francis’ trip to the United States. Part of the article discussed how he managed his personal energy. I was intrigued because how you manage your energy is key to your success as a leader.  His ability to manage his energy evenly throughout the days allows him to work late into the evening without short-changing his duties.

You never know when someone will walk through your door with a major crisis that demands your full attention, creativity and and energy to solve. People count on you as a leader to be at your best and without appropriate levels of energy you will fall short.

Managing your energy comes down to three primary elements.

  1. Provide your body and mind the correct fuel.

If you have ever ridden in a car with contaminated fuel such as debris or water you know how poorly the engine performs. Take it another step, if you put diesel fuel into a gasoline engine or vice versa, it will destroy the engine.

Recently, I was talking to my wife about how exhausted I was at the end of the week when I was a hospital CEO. I would come home on Thursdays, and especially Fridays and have no energy. I was done! I would have nothing to give to my family or home life. It would take me most of the weekend to recuperate to be ready for Monday. She then pointed out that not only did I not have energy I would come home and eat sugary carbs. Or as she put it “ You would come home and eat an entire box of cereal.”

My body was craving something to give me an energy boost. Unfortunately, I was seeking the wrong fuel. These sugary carbs or items such as energy drinks and coffee give us a quick boost, but then let us down even harder placing us in an endless cycle of ups and down.

When we eat a balanced diet of natural items, including fruits, vegetables and lean protein, we can overcome the highs and lows during the day. Eating smaller meals more frequently is also an excellent strategy. This helps keep your blood sugar levels more even throughout the day.

We should also drink a lot of water. Keep your body hydrated. Being dehydrated sends a signal to your brain that you need something, and sometimes this signal is misinterpreted as hunger.

To know how much water you need take your body weight and multiply it by .55. This is how many ounces you need daily. For example if you weigh 180lbs. 180 x .55 = 99. You need to drink at least 99 ounces a day. This does not include tea, coffee, juice or soft drinks.

Exercise also falls under this first category, but I am going to dedicate an entire post about it later this week.

Cut out the sugary processed foods, eat good food and stay hydrated. You will be amazed at how your energy levels will increases and how well you can maintain it throughout the whole day.

  1. Proper Time Management

 If hidden cameras were installed everywhere we went during a typical day and recorded our every movement, we would be shocked at how much time we waste or spend on meaningless tasks.

Everything from incessant email checking, texting, social media, internet surfing or television eat away hours, not minutes of our day.

Research indicates the average worker wastes anywhere from 28%-60% of productive time on the activities listed above. This is staggering.

Another time waster is interruptions. Sometimes these can’t be helped when you are in a leadership role, but often times we are interrupted for trivial items that can wait.

When we are interrupted it takes us 20 minutes to get back to the level of productivity we were at prior to the interruption.

These items not only rob us of precious productive work time, they also rob us of our mental and physical energy. When our mental energy is depleted our creativity, ability to problem solve and our mood are impacted.

Think about the end of a long day when you are tired, trying to complete a task to get out the door and one of your “problem” employees comes in with a trivial issue. Are you more or less likely to be kind and patient? The answer is less, of course.

Often times, when our physical and mental energy are depleted, our filters, will-power and decision making are less than stellar. We are more likely to say and/or do things we will regret later.

The key to overcoming these issues is to treat each minute of our day as a precious commodity. Take time in the morning or evening to plan your entire day. At the end of the day evaluate how well you spent your time and in what areas you could do better.

Limit your distractions and have chunks of time where you shut your door, turn your phone on mute, your cell phone off and log out of your email. Work on a singular task to completion before you return calls and email.

Practice these techniques and before long you will be adding hours to your day.

  1. Rest and Renewal

 Sometimes, when we are on a tear, we get torn up. Rest and times of renewal are key in maintaining our energy throughout the entire day.

Our bodies have natural biorhythms. Most people are familiar with the Circadian Rhythm, which is our sleep wake cycle, but we have many other natural rhythms as well.

Our minds need a break after about 45-50 minutes of focus. A time of renewal. This doesn’t mean to stop and check Facebook every 45 minutes. This is not renewal. This is just bouncing our mind from one thing to the next, which actually depletes our energy more quickly.

When our mind starts telling us we need a break what do we typically do? We grab coffee, energy drinks, chocolate or sugary carbs. This gives us a bump, but then we come down again. What do we do? Repeat the same process. More coffee, more sugar, more energy drinks.

You have to think about our energy like the battery in our cell phones. We have a limited supply, but we can recharge them as needed. The problem is most of us run right through our energy without recharging, and then, at the end of the day, we are struggling to get to our car to make it home. Not to mention, by the time we get home we have nothing left for our loved ones.

I recommend taking micro-breaks throughout the day. Take 5-10 minutes a few times throughout the day to completely unplug and rest your mind. If you are like me, this doesn’t come easy. When my mind gets going, it is hard to shut it down.

The more you practice this the easier it gets, though. Start with shutting your office door or get to a quiet place at work. You may even have to go sit in your car. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Count your breath if this will help you. Start with 2-3 minutes then slowly increase the time as you get better.

If your job doesn’t allow you to do this, then try it at lunch for a longer period of time.

Think of these breaks as recharging your batteries.

I practice these three items on a daily basis and have nearly tripled my energy levels. I routinely wake up at 4:45 AM and get to sleep around 10:00 PM. I have high levels of energy throughout the day, accomplish more, and have plenty of energy for my family in the evening.

If help implementing these, and other strategies, sounds valuable to you, I can accomplish this with a free 25 minute rapid coaching session. In this session we will go through your day and come up with a plan custom tailored to your needs, helping you have more energy than ever before. Just send me an email with the subject “Coaching” to info[at]thenatemiller.com

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