Energy vs. Time: How to Audit Your Energy
Have you ever been driving somewhere and your car seemed to automatically head to work? You notice it when you pass a certain milestone: you stop at a certain stoplight and realize that you aren't actually headed to work but are going to Target. Your drive to work is automatic. You do it every day, so it's efficient. You know times of the day to avoid or alternate routes around schools for pick-up and drop-off times. You don't have to think too much about your drive to work.
But sometimes, efficiency can cause us to get stuck in automatic habits: take the drive to Target example. Once we want to go to Target, we need to bring a little more awareness to that trip. Our days can be like this, too. Automatic behaviors serve us well until they don't.
In the post managing your energy vs. managing your time, I discussed how people work best when they pay attention to these four areas of their lives: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. The goal is to first bring awareness to what gives you energy and what drains your energy. Once you have awareness, then you can be mindful about what you are doing, you can choose what to focus on and when to focus on it, and you can replenish your energy when it is lagging.
I audited my energy to figure out when I focus best and when I should work on something that is a little more routine. I know that I usually have a little to a lot of dip in my energy after lunch. I have played around with what I eat and when I eat. This helps to some extent. But there was still a dip. I try to walk away at lunch - either literally walk or take a 10-minute catnap or some other form of physical restoration. As far as work, this is a good time for me to do things that take less mental energy (checking emails, updating documentation, following up with people). Once 2:00 hits, my physical and mental energy seem to be in sync more. That's when I work on projects and new ideas that need my fresh brain. I also think 2:00 works for me because I like to get things off my desk, so to speak for the next day. Sometimes meetings work for me because I find that connecting with people helps fuel my emotional energy!
Other than knowing that I usually have a post-lunch dip, I realized that I needed to figure out how my energy was shifting throughout the day: the time of day when energy dips and when my energy is high, what I am doing and what projects that I am working on, emotional energy and mental energy that come with various projects, how difficult certain projects are.
Graph your energy
Ask yourself how is your energy at various points throughout your day and make a little graph. I have done this several ways. The first is to make an informal graph and just track how it is through various points of the day. Ask yourself "do I feel more energetic now than I did before"? If you do, trend the graph upwards. If you don't, trend the graph downwards. This is all relative and for your eyes only. This is an example of my energy graph from 2 different Mondays.