The energy economy

Energy is not a zero-sum game.

I used to think that energy was a finite resource: you woke up in the morning with some quantity of energy, then spent it (wisely or unwisely), til you ran out. Then you went to sleep and when you woke up, you had energy again.

But this isn’t true. There are some things we attempt that drain all our energy in one shot. And some other things which light us up, give us energy from inner stores we didn’t realize we had.

Try keeping an energy log for a few days. Keep a notebook or sheet of paper by your workspace. Every time you switch activities (read a book, call a friend, attend a meeting, work on a project, solve a problem) log the activity and a + or a - next to it. Did the activity give you an energy boost? Or drain your energy?

After doing this for awhile, you’ll have a pretty good idea of which of your daily activities have which effect on you. You might discover an unexpected pattern. Either way, you’ll be armed with more information about how you function to help you plan your days better. Perhaps you want to balance a - activity with a + activity right after it. Or you’ll find out that you can do only 2 activities a day if they’re both -’s, but for + activities, you can be busy all day and still feel great!

Knowing what amplifies and drains your energy will help empower you to make better choices about your day-to-day. But there’s more.

When enduring draining activities, you eventually hit bottom, and you can do no more. You’re toast.

But energizing activities often give you the power to do more: more work, have more ideas, feel more inspired. And rarely do they inspire you toward draining activities; no, they give you ideas for more energizing ones.

By following the trail of what fuels you, you’re getting closer in tune with the work you’re meant to be doing. Hard work is hard, but when you’re doing the right work, it should also feel good. It should get you jazzed to do the next piece, and always be helping to grow, not diminish you.

Pay attention: what is feeding you? What is sucking your energy? What will you do about it?

Gillian BenAry