Why Productivity Is the Key to Managing Your Energy (Optimize Your Energy, Part 2)

Managing your energy is a lot like managing your finances.

If you want to be in good financial health, learn how to budget your money. If you want to do the things you desire, learn how to manage your energy.

But now that you’re in quarantine, it’s so easy to be wasteful with your energy.

Hitting the snooze on your alarm five times. Scrolling on your phone throughout the day. Staying awake past midnight. Watching TV as a couch potato, instead of exercising.

We’re experiencing a new phenomenon where coronavirus-related stress is affecting our energy and motivation. 

Behavioral health therapist Dr. Jane Pernotto Ehrman calls it coronavirus quarantine fatigue. “This kind of fatigue drains our motivation,” she says, “We just want to go lie down on the couch and do nothing. Because of these difficult situations, we’re in a kind of shock and we don’t know what to do.”

Being stuck at home makes you more vulnerable to these energy sappers. And although they may seem minor, they can snowball into a serious problem. 

Because if you don’t get a handle on it, you’ll encounter more than a dip in your energy and productivity. You’ll experience:

  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Appetite changes
  • Racing thoughts
  • Poor focus
  • Signs of burnout

Poor energy management keeps you from creating and living the life you want. Last week, we learned how self-care can boost your energy. Now, I’ll show you how to budget your energy levels with a few productivity tips.

(And yes, all these tips can be done at home!)

Ready? Let’s begin.

How to Manage Your Energy Using These 4 Productivity Tips

#1 Master Your Environment

Ever tried focusing when your desk is in shambles? How can you work when piles of paperwork and unwashed mugs sit on a light coating of dust?

It’s more than distracting. It’s inefficient.

Each time you look for an unfiled document, you lose energy.

Each time an unwashed mug grabs your attention, you lose energy.

Each time you have to shuffle your clutter around, you lose energy.

Don’t let unnecessary clutter sap your focus, energy, and creativity. 

Before you sit down to work, take a few minutes to declutter your space. If you’re now working from home due to coronavirus, a dedicated workspace that is clutter-free is even more critical to preserving your focus. When your space is free from distracting elements, you can better focus on the task at hand.

#2 Understand Your Peaks and Dips

Ever notice how at certain times of the day, you’re ready to conquer the world? And then at other times, you’re ready for a power nap?

That’s because your energy levels fluctuate throughout the day — understanding how they rise and fall is key to optimizing your energy. You can do this by listening to your circadian rhythm.

Your energy levels fluctuate throughout the day — understanding how they rise and fall is key to optimizing your energy. You can do this by listening to your circadian rhythm. Click To Tweet

“Your circadian rhythm,” according to the National Sleep Organization, “is basically a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals.”

Everybody’s circadian rhythm is different. It’s why early birds feel most productive in the morning and night owls work better during the evening.

Understanding your circadian rhythm helps you learn how to manage your energy levels throughout the day. You’ll want to save your cognitively demanding tasks, like writing or planning, for when your energy is highest. Similarly, you’ll want to save your less demanding tasks, like answering emails, for when your energy dips.

What does your circadian rhythm look like? How can you use it to structure your workday for maximum energy and productivity?

#3 Clean Up Attention Residue

If you still believe that multitasking is efficient, think again. Studies show that multitasking is actually wasteful with your energy and productivity.

Dr. Sophie Leroy observed that each time you switch between tasks, your focus experiences a type of lag. “This is what I call Attention Residue,” she says, “when part of our attention is focused on another task instead of being fully devoted to the current task that needs to be performed.”

Let’s look at an example.

You’re working on a project, but you’re notified of a new email. You check it out but reread it a few times because your mind is still stuck on the project you were just working on. After you respond to the email, you return to your project. You take a few moments, however, to figure out where you left off and your next step before getting started.

This is just one example. If you’re transitioning from working in the office to working at home, you’re exposed to even more distractions — laundry, dishes, and children just to name a few. Switching back and forth between tasks is often tempting but it wastes bits of your energy. To help you clean up attention residue, use task batching and time blocking.

Task batching is when you group similar tasks, like answering emails or editing a paper. Time blocking is when you dedicate a slot in your calendar to complete a specific task. 

These strategies will help you be more mindful of how you’re spending your energy and where you’re directing your focus.

#4 Start Outsourcing or Delegating

Here’s the reality: there’s no way you can do everything yourself.

Trying to do everything yourself can lead to coronavirus quarantine fatigue and feeling overwhelmed with life.

Your time and energy are limited. But that shouldn’t discourage you from getting your priorities completed. Instead of doing everything yourself, start relying on others.

Outsourcing or delegating your responsibilities is an efficient way to manage your energy while getting things done.

If you’re a business owner, there are several business operations you can outsource:

  • Administrative tasks
  • Bookkeeping
  • Copywriting
  • Customer service
  • Human resources

Outsourcing these processes frees up your time and energy for things that you enjoy, like serving your clients or business development.

You can even delegate or outsource at home. Your spouse and children can help out with the household chores. Or instead, you can hire a housekeeper to tidy your home while you’re at work or a cleaning service to come in periodically.

Your energy levels are finite. But when you start outsourcing, you tap into the energy pools of other people. This neat productivity tip gets your priorities done without overextending yourself!

Productivity is Only One Part of the Equation

As I mentioned above, this article is part two of a two-part series on energy optimization. (Link to Part one at bottom of article.) The productivity tips I shared help you better utilize your energy. But productivity tips do little when your energy baseline is low from exhaustion and stress.

Productivity is only one of two keys to optimizing your energy. The other key is self-care.

As you work on better managing your energy, remember to take care of your body. Regular self-care can expand your energy baseline, improve your mood, and protect you from coronavirus quarantine fatigue.

To help you build self-care into your daily routine, take advantage of my “From Burnout To Balance: A Simple 10-Minute Daily Self-Care Practice.”

This practice has been shown to:

  • Increase mindfulness, well-being, self-confidence, and personal power
  • Increase your ability to concentrate
  • Cultivate a greater resilience to stress, a positive mindset, and a sense of hopefulness and calm
  • Decrease stress and stress-related symptoms like frustration, mood swings, feelings of overwhelm or lack of control, anxiety, depression, low energy, headaches, body aches and pains, muscle tension, chest pain and rapid heartbeat, insomnia, and frequent colds and infections
  • Reduce or even stop worrying

Click here now to claim your free gift of my “From Burnout To Balance: A Simple 10-Minute Daily Self-Care Practice.”

Go here to read Part One: Feeling Tired All the Time? Try These 4 Self-Care Tips (Optimize Your Energy Pt. 1)

Feeling Tired All the Time? Try These 4 Self-Care Tips (Optimize Your Energy, Part 1)

It’s 2:00 and you’ve hit another afternoon slump. You wonder if you can make it to the end of the day.

“Why do I feel so tired all the time?” you ask yourself.

Even if you’re working from home due to coronavirus, it feels like another exhausting day in the office.

You consider pouring yourself another cup of coffee. You might even have an energy drink waiting for you in the fridge.

Yet there lies the problem. You rely on sources that offer temporary energy boosts. However, the problem — and solution — is deeper than that.

You’re having a new and different experience — life in quarantine. And with the added stress and anxiety, you may be experiencing coronavirus quarantine fatigue. “It’s just overwhelming,” says behavioral health therapist Dr. Jane Pernotto Ehrman, “and part of the fatigue is the uncertainty, unpredictability and the unknowns in all of this.” 

That’s why it’s time to put away the caffeine and sugary energy drinks and practice a healthier response to feeling tired all the time: self care! 

Self-care is free, easy, and can be done at home! 

How Self-Care Can Optimize Your Energy

Energy is like a battery. Ideally, you’re waking up at 100%. 

But what happens when you don’t get enough sleep? Or your diet is lacking nutrients? Or your life is all work, no play?

You might wake up at only 80% or 50%. These are only a few causes of low energy in women that can lead you to suffer from signs of burnout.

And if you’re experiencing exhaustion from coronavirus, you might be feeling any number of the following symptoms:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Low motivation
  • Appetite changes
  • Insomnia
  • Racing thoughts

That’s why I created this two-part series on optimizing your energy, especially in these uncertain times. In this article, I explain how self-care can boost your energy. Next week, I’ll show you how to budget that energy with productivity tips.

So, why self-care? you might ask.

Everyday presents its own stressful challenges and the coronavirus outbreak has introduced new ones.

Yet, imagine starting every day at 100%. Your mind feels sharper. You have more bounce in your step. Your goals are clear. You know what you need to do. And you take action.

Yet, imagine starting every day at 100%. Your mind feels sharper. You have more bounce in your step. Your goals are clear. You know what you need to do. And you take action. Click To Tweet

“If we don’t take action and recharge,” says Dr. Ehrman, “We will remain stuck. So, it’s important to relieve stress to re-energize and be more present.” Self-care helps you optimize your energy so that you can create and live your best life. 

Here’s how you can do it.

Feeling Tired All the Time Because of Coronavirus Quarantine Fatigue? Here are 4 Self-Care Tips to Optimize Your Energy

#1 Clean Up Your Diet

Your body is like a car and the food you feed it is the gas you pump.

Without gas, you’re running on fumes. With poor-quality gas, your car starts experiencing some problems.

It’s the same way with food. Some foods are low-quality and do little for your body. They’re usually high in calories and low in nutritional value — think chips, candy, and fast food.

If you want to boost your energy, look at the food you eat. If you discover your diet could be better, try planning your meals in advance. This encourages you to be mindful of what your body is taking in. The following tips will keep your diet healthy and your body energized:

  • Consume more complex carbs (like fiber-rich vegetables and whole-wheat grains)
  • Avoid simple carbs (like cookies and dairy products)
  • Increase your intake of dark, leafy vegetables (like spinach, broccoli, Swiss chard and kale)
  • Reduce your caffeine intake to avoid energy crashes (like coffee, energy drinks and soda)
  • Drink enough water (the Institute of Medicine recommends 9 cups each day for women)

But if you’ve been to your big chain grocery stores lately, you probably noticed that some shelves are picked clean. You may need to explore other options for buying nutritious foods. 

Now is a good time to support your local businesses by visiting a nearby mom and pop store. Or you might even want to start a garden and grow your own produce!

When you feed your body high-nutrition foods, it rewards you with increased energy and longevity.

#2 Cultivate Better Work/Life Balance

As a modern woman, you wear several hats: mother, businesswoman, caregiver, spouse, and more. But one that you might forget to wear is the woman who practices self-care.

You spend all of your energy on other people and obligations, but forget to save some for yourself. You suffer from poor work/life balance. Your other obligations — whether professional or personal — dominate your life and your health begins to suffer.

Show yourself how much you love yourself by putting your own self-care first. 

Try creating and maintaining a morning routine. Before you give your time and energy away, give it to yourself first. Exercise and meditation are great ways to kickstart your day. I enjoy greeting the morning with meditation and words of affirmation, followed by quality time with my pen and journal. 

If you work from home — which many of us are doing in these crazy times —  set a cut-off time for the end of your workday. Clean up your workspace and shut down for the day. Unless you’re a doctor or firefighter on call, work can wait until the next morning.

Your home should feel like a sanctuary. Don’t let coronavirus ruin it!

#3 Schedule a Well-Deserved Staycation

Daily self-care is critical to your health and well-being, but sometimes you need more.

Even when you’re maintaining a morning routine and getting enough quality sleep, you can still feel over-extended. If you’re still stressed, it may be time to take an extended break.

With what’s going in the world, now may not be ideal for traveling. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t relax and play! 

Instead, schedule a staycation as soon as possible. Stepping away from your responsibilities, while staying home can do wonders for your health. A staycation gives your mind and body the time and space needed to declutter and unwind.

After a relaxing break, you can return to your daily responsibilities with renewed energy and focus.

#4 Cage Your Monkey Mind

Have you ever heard about monkey mind?

“Monkey mind is a term that refers to being unsettled, restless, or confused,” says Dr. Diana Raab, “It is also the part of your brain that becomes easily distracted.”

Has this ever happened to you?

You might be working on a task, but your mind veers instead to the latest COVID-19 update.  There are many changes happening within your community. You might be checking your local news or social media to stay informed.

Each time you get distracted, you squander valuable time and energy.

Cage your monkey mind with meditation. Monkey mind often feels like you’re swimming in cluttered thoughts. Meditation pulls you out of the water by inviting your attention to the act of breathing. Many people remark on how clear and alert they feel after a meditation session. 

If you’re new to meditation, try using guided meditation apps, like Insight Timer or HeadSpace. Their sessions will teach you the foundations of meditation and intentional breathing.

Do you have any energy-boosting self-care tips that I didn’t mention? Share them with me in the comments below.

Make Self-Care a Habit

“The holy grail of habit change,” says James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, “is not a single 1 percent improvement, but a thousand of them.”

Waking up with a fully charged battery will support you when you feel coronavirus quarantine fatigue creeping in. But this happens only when you commit to making self-care a daily habit.

You might not notice a difference in your energy levels at first. But if you maintain a self-care routine, you will notice higher energy levels over time.

And daily self-care doesn’t have to be a two-hour routine. It can be as simple as 10 minutes every day with my “From Burnout To Balance: A Simple 10-Minute Daily Self-Care Practice.”

This practice has been shown to:

  • Increase mindfulness, well-being, self-confidence, and personal power
  • Increase your ability to concentrate
  • Cultivate a greater resilience to stress, a positive mindset, and a sense of hopefulness and calm
  • Decrease stress and stress-related symptoms like frustration, mood swings, feelings of overwhelm or lack of control, anxiety, depression, low energy, headaches, body aches and pains, muscle tension, chest pain and rapid heartbeat, insomnia, and frequent colds and infections
  • Reduce or even stop worrying

Click here now to claim your free gift of my “From Burnout To Balance: A Simple 10-Minute Daily Self-Care Practice.”

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