How to sustain your energy throughout the year | Fin24

How to sustain your energy throughout the year

Feb 02 2018 14:51
Amanda Visser

Herman Veitch is a business leadership and life coach at Quantum Flow Coaching. (Picture: Supplied)

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Most people feel invigorated after a well-deserved summer holiday and are ready to tackle the year like they would a marathon... only to realise in March that they still have 40km to go.   

Many quickly fall into the habit of working long hours which drains them physically, mentally and emotionally. 

They forget their New Year’s resolutions about eating healthier, exercising more and taking more frequent breaks.  

Herman Veitch, business leadership and life coach at Quantum Flow Coaching, says that you can manage energy levels through practise, much in the same way you would train for a marathon.  

Most people cannot sprint a whole marathon; they have to pace themselves – it’s the same with managing energy levels. 

“Accept that there is an ebb and flow and that you need to catch your ‘energy breath’ every once in a while.”   

Tony Schwartz, CEO of The Energy Project, a New York-headquartered business consultancy, says individuals need to recognise the costs of “energy-depleting behaviours” and then change them, regardless of the circumstances they are facing. It sounds daunting.  

“Most large organisations invest in developing employees’ skills, knowledge, and competence. Very few help build and sustain their capacity – their energy – which is typically taken for granted,” Schwartz writes in an article published in Harvard Business Review (HBR).  

Veitch says an important departure point when talking about energy is to acknowledge that energy, not time, is the resource to manage. 

“The skilful management of energy makes full engagement possible. Engagement is the key to success in the workplace and is also the measurement of energy levels.”

Colin Hall, corporate facilitator at training company Learning to Lead, says human energy is the key determinant of all human performances – whether it is working, cooking, dancing or even sleeping. 

“Because it is as infectious as a virus, my energy affects yours, yours affects mine and ours affects everyone else’s.”  

Sources of energy   

The Energy Project looks at the body as the physical energy, the emotions as the quality of energy, the mind as the focus of energy and the spirit as the energy of purpose.  

Veitch says these four sources of energy are like the legs of a table – if one is missing, the table is not stable. 

It is your responsibility to ensure that these four sources are in harmony.   

“Decide to take responsibility of the four energy sources in your life. Become fitter. Start by walking more. Eat healthier. Start by cutting out sugar. Put your phone down and connect with the important in your life,” advises Veitch.  

The body (physical energy)   

The Energy Project has developed a programme that focuses on all the sources of energy. 

It starts with an energy audit which looks at the body, emotions, mind and spirit.  

People are asked if they skip breakfast regularly, whether they frequently find themselves impatient or anxious at work, if they are easily distracted during the day, or whether their decisions are more often influenced by external demand rather than by their own sense of purpose.   

Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy, senior vice president of The Energy Project, co-authored the much-acclaimed HBR article Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time

Their programme centres around creating rituals for renewing your energy once you have identified what drains it.   

Some of the rituals include going to bed the same time every evening, changing your eating habits, and taking brief, but regular breaks at specific intervals during the day. 

Leave your desk to chat to a colleague or go for a walk.

“While breaks are countercultural in most organisations and counterintuitive for many high achievers, their value is multifaceted,” they write in the article.  

Life coach and blogger Jenny Blake says in a Forbes article that people need recovery time: “Whatever the break you think you need, double it. You are most likely underestimating the toll that all of your hard work is taking on your body and mind – even if you are having fun.”  

The emotions (quality of energy)  

When individuals are confronted with unexpected challenges, they tend to slip into flight-or-fight mode – often several times a day. 

This is associated with negative emotions. As a result, their energy is drained and their relationships become strained.    

Hall says people get their energy from their relationships. The three sources are the energy that comes from the Real Me (positive) and the Ego I (negative); the Real Me and Real You (positive) or Ego I and Ego You (negative); and the Real Me and the Real You, or the egos of who we pretend to be.  

He says that by choosing to be authentic and the real you, you create positive energy and harmony in your relationships.    

The mind (focus of energy)    

People tend to think multitasking is crucial if they want to achieve all their goals – however, it actually undermines productivity, Schwartz and McCarthy point out in the HBR article.   

“It is far more efficient to fully focus for 90 to 120 minutes, take a true break, and then fully focus on the next activity,” they write.  

One ritual to break this urge to multitask is to set aside a specific time for specific tasks – only check emails at designated times during the day. Let people know that your habits have changed.   

The spirit (energy of purpose)  

Many individuals do not even recognise meaning and purpose as potential sources of energy. Uncover your core values and integrate them in your everyday behaviour.   

Veitch says not all companies think in terms of managing their employees’ energy. 

Those that do, make it a part of their business cultures.   

Firms whose cultures encourage “conscious capitalism”, “employee engagement” and “servant leadership”, tend to manage their employees’ energy levels better.

This article originally appeared in the 1 February edition of finweek. Buy and download the magazine here.

energy  |  work and career  |  motivation