Managing Your Energy to Maximize Your Productivity – Part 4: Spiritually Energy

Over the past couple of weeks, I have written on ways to manage your energy in order to maximize your productivity through physical, emotional, and mindful energy. Physical energy was likely easiest to understand. It is about sleeping 8 hours, eating the right foods, exercising. Let’s face it, if you are hungry or tired, you are not yourself. It is nearly impossible to be the person you want to be under those conditions. Sure you might be able to fake it for a little bit but it is not sustainable. When I wrote about emotional energy during the second week it might have felt a little woo-woo for you. I explained the difference between responding versus reacting and identifying triggers to your negative behaviors. Last week, I pulled out more woo-woo and suggested that you start meditating and developing personal rituals during the mindful energy piece. Yes, I wrote on a professional blog to take a seat for a couple minutes and breathe! If Steven Jobs can mediate and create on the level that he created, there is no reason why you cannot mediate either. Maybe this is where I should insert some hashtags.

#sorrynotsorry #mindfulness #gratitude

closeup photography of cairn stone

This week’s topic is managing your spiritual energy in order to manage your energy to maximize your productivity. Spiritual energy at work? In the office? With co-workers around? YES! YES! YES! In this context, spiritual energy means recognizing meaning and purpose in what you do. It’s about asking yourself the question “What do I want to be remembered for?” You likely do not want to be remembered as the person that was never present for life or the person that was tied up with emails on your phone.

To access the energy of the human spirit, people need to clarify priorities and establish accompanying rituals in three categories: doing what they do best and enjoy most at work; consciously allocating time and energy to the areas of their lives—work, family, health, service to others—they deem most important; and living their core values in their daily behaviors.

Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy

Do not do things that you are good at and do not enjoy doing. For me, I am good at doing journal entries that does not mean that I enjoy them. I enjoy working on large data sets and find that I do well at. On the other hand, I always wished I could work in the medical field. I could barely handle a bloody nose so working in the medical field will not happen for me. We all need to find our sweet spot in work and in life. That spot is where you feel effective and inspired not drained and depleted.

How do you know if you need to reevaluate your work?

  1. Do you feel that you spend more time on work that you least enjoy doing?
  2. Do you find that there is a difference between how you want to spend your time versus how you actually spend you time?
  3. Do you find that others dictate your work?
  4. Do you feel that at the end of the day you did not have the time or energy to make a positive difference?

If you said yes to any of the questions, consider reevaluating your work and your approach to work.

Need a review of how to manage all aspects of your energy in order to maximize your productivity? If so check how all of the articles in this series.

Managing Your Energy to Maximize Your Productivity – Part 3: Mindful Energy

Over the past two weeks, I wrote about managing your physical energy and emotional energy.  The key to managing your physical energy was sleeping, eating a nutritious breakfast, working out regularly, and not skipping lunch or breaks at work.  For mastering your emotional energy comes to deciding to respond vs. react to a situation.  This week I will be writing about maximizing your productivity through mindful energy.  

Mindfulness is not all woo-woo as you might think.  Think about walking into the office where all of the bosses are at a meeting for the day and then a couple of your co-workers are out of the office too.  Overall, the office is very quiet.  Rather than starting your morning at the water cooler chatting, you start with a hard project first.  Two hours later, you realize that not only did you finish that hard project in less time than you expected but also you got it done without any interruptions.  How do you feel?  You probably feel like a total badass and go grab a coffee to celebrate.

Now picture walking into the office with everyone in the office, the phone rings every 22 minutes, emails keep popping up every 3 minutes, and that one weird person that loves to reheat fish from another department wants to show you their pet rock collection.  How long do you think that hard project is going to take you today?  Maybe it is going to take more than a day to complete.  How do you feel?  Worn out, tired?

All of those distractions cost your company at least a day or two of your salary.  Distractions are expensive.  As I have previously written, you are more efficient and productive if you designate time to single-tasking by working one project at a time. 

How do you fix this problem?  First, you need to create personal rituals.  Second, you need to communicate your personal rituals.  Lastly, you need to stick with your personal rituals and adjust if they do not work. 

Personal Rituals:

  1. Practice meditation.  If you think you do not need meditation or that it is nuts, you need it more.  Remember that Steve Jobs practiced meditation and he still had time to develop amazing technology. 
  2. Relocate.  Consider going to an empty conference room for an hour or two to complete a project.  Do not take email and phone distractions with you.
  3. Be present.  If you accepted a meeting, be at your meeting.  Being on your phone during a meeting is wasting everyone else’s time.
  4. Schedule e-mail.  Turn off the email pop-ups, dings, and buzzes and schedule periodic time to check emails.  Consider checking email after you complete each project or complete a meeting.  
  5. Tackle hard projects first.  Before you check your voicemail or open your email as soon as you walk into the office, decide to tackle hard projects first.  The night before you should leave yourself a note on what needs to be completed so that you can start immediately. 
  6. Do Not Disturb.  We are more connected than ever these days by phone, email, voicemail, text, internal messaging systems, etc.  Schedule time spots in your schedule to be completely unavailable.

Communicate Rituals.  Listen going off the grid might sound awesome to you.  Your team will be questioning a whole lot of things.  Instead, communicate your rituals.  Explain how long your team should expect you to be unavailable.  Offer an alternative means of communication.  For example, you will not be checking emails between 1-2 pm each afternoon so that you can work on a report that is due by the end of each day, communicate just that.  Offer your team an alternative means of communication for urgent matters via phone.  How many emergencies do you think really occur?  Not many as you think.

If I were to ask you the following four questions, how would you respond?

  1. Do you have difficulty focusing on one task at a time? Are you easily distracted?
  2. Do you feel that you spend more time reacting to fires rather that value added, long term projects?
  3. Do you take time to reflect, plan, and think?
  4. Do you take work home with you on the weekend, nights, and/or vacations?

If you said yes to any of these questions, please consider adding a mindful ritual to your day to improve you personal productivity.

mindfulness printed paper near window

Check back next week when I wrap up this four part series on managing your energy to maximize your productivity, where I discuss how to increase your spiritual energy so that you could be more productive.

Managing Your Energy to Maximize Your Productivity – Part 2: Emotional Energy

Last week I discussed how to maximize your productivity when you manage your physical energy.   The key to managing your physical energy was sleeping , eating a nutritious breakfast, working out on a regular basis, and not skipping lunch or breaks at work.  This week I will outline what impacts emotional energy and steps you can take immediately to improve your emotional energy.  Personally, I believe that physical energy is the foundation for emotional energy. 

We have all been in situations when things appear to be a complete disaster and we have a choice to react or respond to the disaster. 

Unsplash

How to Response vs. React by Lee Colan on Inc.

  • When you simply react, your emotional instinct is in control, with little thought of the long-range consequences.
  • When you respond, your brain is fully engaged, and your self-awareness is high.  You have the long-term consequences in mind.

It is completely appropriate to react by pulling someone to safety if they are about to be hit by a bus.  It is rarely acceptable react by lashing out and yelling during a meeting or at others.

Usually our goal is to respond to a disaster rather than react.  We can typically respond when we feel positive emotional energy.  Identify the trigger.  First, identify triggers to negative emotional energy.  Did you not sleep well last night? Did a news article make you feel anxious or irritable?  Consider personal impact.  Ask yourself does this truly impact my life?  Will the outcome impact my life in 6 months?  Here are some steps to build and maintain positive emotional energy. 

  1. Breathe.  Breathe in for a count of 4 and exhale for a count of 6-8.  Repeat several times. 
  2. Show appreciation.  Express appreciation towards others.  Send an email, handwritten note, or publicly acknowledge your appreciation for a co-worker or friend.
  3. Story re-write.  Did that stranger really see the coffee mug in your hand and purposely slam on their breaks so that you would spill your coffee all over your new pants?  Or is it possible they slammed on their breaks to avoid hitting a pothole? 

Re-writing the story might be the most important step to building and maintaining positive emotional energy when you start with asking your self “What are the facts?”

Check back next week when I discuss how to be more mindful to be more productive.

Managing Your Energy to Maximize Your Productivity – Part 1: Physical Energy

Show of hands, how many of you feel exhausted?  Feel guilty by not balancing work and life?  Wished you didn’t miss that spin class last week because you worked late?   Can’t remember the last time you slept a full eight hours?  If you said yes to any of these questions, you are not alone.   There appears to be this sense that we must continue to work longer and longer hours at work.  Some bosses may judge performance based purely on the number of hours you were at your desk in order to determine promotions and raises and rarely consider the actual work that you accomplished.  Others are in an industry with shrinking returns and a constant threat of job eliminations. 

What happens when you work longer and longer hours without replenishing your energy?  Engagement declines.  You are easily distracted.  Productivity decreases.  Companies see high turnover rates.  And medical costs, those increase.  Just think about the need for sleep aids, high blood pressure, and anxiety medicine.  Your personal relationships may suffer.  You might just look like an extra in The Walking Dead.  Well maybe a Walking Dead extra but with better style, but still the Walking Dead.  Even though we don’t know each other personally, I feel that it is safe to assume you want more from your life.  You want to enjoy your job, work hard at your job, feel healthy, and have strong personal connections outside of work. 

During this four-part series we will explore how to increase your energy physically, emotionally, mindfully, and spiritually so that you can be the most productive versions of yourself.  The Energy Project case study at Wachovia Bank in 2006 proved how invaluable sleep, healthy food, and strong relationships are to our overall well-being.  The case study focused on executives and high-level management in different industries.   While technology has changed over the past 14 years our need for sleep, healthy food, and strong relationships has not changed.

Based upon the case study by The Energy Project at Wachovia Bank, there are four sources of energy.  Our four sources of energy are the body, our emotions, our mind and our spirit.  The body represents our physical energy.  Spend a little time at your office coffee bar or water cooler and you will notice some patterns.  At least one person will comment that they didn’t get enough sleep last night, forgot breakfast this morning, feel overwhelmed by their to-do list, and cannot focus on one task at a time, or wish they had more time for *insert a fun personal hobby here*. 

I remember a few years ago, I slept less than 8 hours a night on a regular basis, I had no idea which state I was in at times because I traveled often, rarely worked out, gained a bit too much weight, and constantly felt hangry with eating less than desirable food choices.   Maybe you need to change jobs.  Maybe you just need to establish routines.  If you find yourself envious of someone with boundaries that support their physical energy, maybe it’s time to look inward. It took me a little bit of time to establish a routine that worked for me.  Your routine should include sleep, taking breaks throughout the day, eating well, and exercising. 

Are you still skeptical about the benefits of caring for yourself?  Unsure if all of this stuff really stands up to the hype?

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, sleeps 8 hours a week.  His net worth is $120.9B in 2020.  Bezos is quoted in the Business Insider as saying the following:

  • “I prioritize it,” Bezos said of sleep. “I think better. I have more energy. My mood is better.”
  • “As a senior executive, you get paid to make a small number of high-quality decisions,” he said. “Your job is not to make thousands of decisions every day. Is that really worth it if the quality of those decisions might be lower because you’re tired or grouchy?”
  • “If you shortchange your sleep, you might get a couple of extra ‘productive’ hours, but that productivity might be an illusion. When you’re talking about decisions and interactions, quality is usually more important than quantity.”

Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor in chief of the Huffington Post, collapsed from sleep deprivation exhaustion and broke her cheekbone, wrote the Sleep Revolution after she personally realized the benefits of sleep.  Huffington is quoted as saying:

  • “We take now better care of our smartphones — we know exactly how much battery remains in our phones. If you had asked me the morning I collapsed, ‘Arianna, how are you?’ I would have said, ‘Fine.’ Because being perpetually tired has become the new normal.”

Do you want to hear why Bezos finally agreed to come out and talk about sleep? Arianna Huffington explains in her weekly Thrive Global Podcast.

If high net worth business leaders find value in getting sleep, why not prioritize sleep for yourself today?  Once you prioritize sleep, other healthy habits will appear.  You will become more productive.  Be able to make better decisions without being fatigued.  Respond rather than react.  Here is an overview of what I do to prioritize sleep and increase my physical energy.  I am one of those American’s who does not run on Dunkin’ yet start the morning with a smile. 

  • Before Work: Wake up at 5am, drink a full glass of water, practice yoga for 30 minutes, and make a homemade breakfast. 
  • During Work:  Have my phone send me three reminders each day to stand up and stretch.  I have lunch with some awesome co-workers and bring a health homemade lunch daily. 
  • After work: Meet with a personal training two days a week and run two additional days after work, no phone after 7pm, and go to bed at 9pm

If you are still not convinced, review these questions.  If you answer yes to any of the following questions, consider establishing or adjusting your routine to support your physical energy. 

  • Do you sleep less than 8 hours and wake up tired?
  • Do you skip breakfast or eat something less than nutritious for breakfast?
  • Do you skip workouts (cardio 3 times a week and strength 1 time a week)?
  • Do you skip lunch, eat at your desk, and/or skip breaks throughout the day?

Check back next week when I discuss how to improve your emotional energy to be more productive.

Endowment Effect

What does HGTV’s Buying and Selling, Hoarders, and business all have in common?  Some where the endowment effect is clouding someone’s judgement.  Someone is overvaluing and holding on far too long. 

What is the endowment effect?

Part of behavioral finance, the endowment effect explains a situation in which a person places higher value on something that they already own than if they did not already own it.  Maybe this happens to you or someone you know.  The value placed on an object is full of emotional or sentimental feelings.  At the end, the owner often places the value above market price or reasonable expectations. 

Turn on HGTV and watch an episode of Buying and Selling with Jonathan and Drew Scott AKA the Property Brothers.  You can see the endowment effect occur in real estate.  The person or family selling their home is increasing the value of their home based upon all their memories rather than strictly looking at the market, location, comparable homes in the area that are either on the market or recently sold, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, condition, etc.  When Drew Scott appraises the house, the homeowner(s) are general in shock.  Have you seen it?

The endowment effect occurs in your personal and professional life with material possessions and, I argue, your ideas.  Think about something that you personally created.  You likely place a higher value on your own personal creations rather that the creations of others.  It is your creation.  You know about all the blood, sweat, and tears that went into your creation.  The value on your creation matches your effort, which not always is close to the market value. 

How does the Endowment Effect apply to your personal life?

Have you ever looked at your closet and realize that you only wear 20% of your clothes about 80% of the time but cannot bear to donate the 80% of your clothes you rarely wear?  Have you ever posted something on Craigslist at the price you originally paid for that item only to hear crickets?  Have you ever watched Hoarders the TV shows and saw people with an emotional attachment to broken junk? 

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you have witnessed the endowment effect.  You own that pair of pants that no longer fit your body or your image but there is no way you are selling them for anything less than what you paid for them originally. 

How does it apply to your professional life?

Years ago, I heard an executive tell me how their built this one particular department.  It was their “baby.”   Their department started with this executive as the single employee and now look at it.  That department has 10 people working within it!  You can sense the executive’s pride in what they have achieved.  Honestly, they should be proud of their hard work.  However, after getting to know this executive a little more I noticed a trend.  If anyone recommended changing a process to gain efficiencies, that executive became visibly upset and shut down regardless of the reasons given by their employees and/or source of the recommendations.  This executive took it personally rather than seeing that if their team gained efficiencies that same team could perform more work. 

At times, a  manager or leader cannot grasp that if they delegated word to their staff, they would have more time to complete other work or new work.  Instead the manager or leader gets burned out trying to do it all.  Or when they delegate, they find a reason why they needed to redo the work of their staff.  This just frustrates the staff even more. 

Is this really the Endowment Effect?  I argue that it is the Endowment Effect.  We are placing a higher than reasonable expected value on our work. 

How to minimize the affect of the Endowment Effect? 

  • Self-awareness.  Knowing that the Endowment Effect could be causing your behavior and choices allows you to recognize this pattern. 
  • Decide the item or work no longer belongs to you.  If that pair of pants or report you built, not longer belonged to you, is the power or spark gone?
  • Determine how much would you pay today.  Think about how much you would pay for this item or work you are holding on to right now. 

Resources:

  • Article:  Endowment Effect: A Guide to The Emotional Trigger That Influences Your Customers’ Minds by Tomer Hochma
  • ArticleHere’s the psychological reason most people overvalue things they already own by Shana Lebowitz
  • Podcast:  Beware the “Endowment Effect” When Clearing Clutter and a Deep Dive into One-Word Themes.

Did Your New Year New You Fizzle Out? 8 Tips to Building Habits that Last

According to some studies, about 40% of Americans set New Year resolutions each year.  Those that succeed with their resolutions is even smaller.  Some estimate that between 10-40% succeed with their resolutions.  Doing the math that means out of 100 Americans, about 4 to 16 people succeed.  Ouch.  Some resolutions fail because they are too broad and un-measurable.  Other resolutions fail because they are a stretch goal’s stretch goal.  Then there are resolutions that fail because there is no plan or steps to achieve the goal. 

Here are some tips to build habits that last. 

  1. Create a one-word theme for the year.  By creating a one-word theme, you make all decisions through the lens of your theme.  Each day, each decision is an opportunity to reset.  Some of my themes have been sleep and family.  During the year of sleep, my priority was to get 8 hours of sleep each night.  For the year of family, each decision I made, I thought about the impact to my family.  I did consider the personal impact to myself. 
  2. Focus on one single daily habit.  It’s great to have grand plans of changing multiple habits.  However, we only have so much willpower to go through the day.  The more resolutions you have, the more your willpower is spread out.  Ask yourself “what is one single daily habit you want to create or eliminate?”  Whatever single daily habit you choose, do it daily.  Remember:

“What can be done at any time is never done at all.”

English Proverb
  1. Pair your new resolution with an established habit.  Just like peanut butter and jelly, ham and cheese, and pickles and a deep fryer go together, new resolutions stick when you pair it with an established habit.  A reward after you complete your new resolution goes a long way too. 
  2. Start small.  Habits are like snowballs.  They grow over time.  If your goal is to run a marathon this year but you haven’t run a single mile in years.  Start with goal to run a 5k. 
  3. Refuse to skip a day and NEVER miss two days in a row.  Accidents happen.  You will eventually miss a day.  Things happen.  When it happens, do not wait to restart your resolution.  Just like habits are like snowballs, missing days turns into weeks that turns into months.  Restart it immediately! 
  4. Monitor. You cannot measure what you do not monitor.  Humans have the tendency to exaggerate the truth.  Remember that fish you caught when you were 8?  Eventually it became the size of a whale, right?  Try the “Don’t Break the Chain” method, use a habit tracking app, or mark it down in your calendar when you complete your habit. 
  5. Refuse to accept excuses.  A few years ago, I start training with a trainer because I couldn’t stick with a workout plan on my own.  I gave myself very strict rules on when I could cancel on my trainer.  #1 I felt like death because I was sick. #2 It was preplanned because I would be out of town.  Often, we say things like “it’s too cold or hot outside to go for a run,” followed by “I can run at the gym,” followed by “but do I have time to run and go back and forth from the gym?”  You see where this is going.  Do not accept excuses.  Trust me.  They will come up. 
  6. Break down barriers.  Sometimes the biggest barrier is time.  Did you sign up for a gym across town when there is one down the street?  Did you create an overly complicated process?  Did you add unnecessary extra steps?  Review your resolution and see what you could do to make it easier to achieve. 

For more suggestions check out my article I wrote about becoming more productive

Courage doesn’t always roar. 

Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day saying,

‘I’ll try again tomorrow.’

Mary Anne Radmacher & Jonathan Lockwood Huie