I’m thisclose to declaring email bankruptcy. I recently returned from a week long business trip to Asia and, no kidding, I had 700 emails in my in-box–and that’s with an out-of-office notification turned on. To cap it off, I had a pile of mail, dozens of meeting requests to sort through and a laundry list of items I needed to do at home. If you feel whipsawed by a never ending stream of voice mails, endless emails and mile long to-do lists, you are not alone. I have had far too many days where I feel a total lack of control over my time and schedule. So of late I’ve been searching for methods to help me be more effective at home and work. I’ve become a huge fan of Harvard Business Review columnist and blogger, Tony Schwartz, who recently wrote a column that really spoke to me. In it he advises executives to manage their energy rather than their time. Humans are not designed for a steady stream of high-intensity work, says Schwartz. Based on research he has done with his think-tank the Energy Project, he has come up with a short but powerful list of tools to help you better manage your energy and make the most of your day:
- Make sleep your highest priority. This can be easier said than done – especially for moms – but getting enough sleep (at least eight hours) is one of the cornerstones of Schwartz’s advice. He advises going to bed at the same time every night and reviewing and writing anything down that’s on your mind before going to sleep. If you are not still convinced, there is a plethora of research now that underscores the importance of a good night’s sleep.
- Take a renewal break at least every ninety minutes. A short break in 90 minute intervals can help to clear and quite your mind.
- Keep a running list of everything that you want or need to do. I love this one because I am an obsessive list maker. Putting down your to do’s helps free your mind and gives you a sense of control. For resources, check out my friend and fellow blogger, Kalyn Johnson who recently blogged about a great on-line time management tool. Also check out fantastic mom blogger Blessing at Working Mom Journal who has a free down-loadable 24hour to do list.
- Run up your heart rate or take a nap in the early afternoon. This one is probably easier to do if you work for yourself or you work from home. The theory here is that aerobic exercise jump starts your energy. You can go to the gym or take a brisk walk. Alternatively, Schwartz recommends a 20- 30 minute power nap between the hours 1-4 which is when most people start to feel the afternoon energy crash.
- Practice appreciation – and savoring – Banish negative emotions and focus on the positive. Showing appreciation and projecting postive energy, says Schwartz, will make you feel better.
- Develop a transition ritual between work and home. Develop your own way of disengaging from work so that when you walk through that front door, you are truly present for your family.
I’m following Schwartz’s advice and am already seeing and feeling the benefits. How do you manage your energy?