When you’re bursting with energy, you will be productive and get more done in less time. You will produce higher quality work than before and find more enjoyment in the work itself.
I don’t believe in laziness or lethargy. Energy management is a skill that everybody can develop and improve. This is a comprehensive guide on how to supercharge your life. For everybody that wants to be able to jump out of bed in the morning and tackle sophisticated goals.
You can become a madman, too.
A few maniacs stack up side-hustles, powerful habits, and work at the same time. And there is one thing that they share in common: They manage their energy optimal.
You too can design your life in a way that allows you to have higher and more consistent energy levels. This is achievable by being more efficient with your energy and getting better rest. And while this seems simple, the details matter.
Part I: Efficiency
Your energy might be one of your most precious resources. You don’t want to be wasteful with it. Being efficient with your energy allows you to stay focused for longer periods of time.
This is huge, as your ability to stay focused governs what you can get done.
Mind-control is real and right here.
As Tristan Harris elaborated, media and social networks are designed to hijack your attention and sell it to advertisers. In this business model, you are the product. And media companies spend millions to keep you on their platform.
I am not condemning those platforms, at all. However, I want to point out the importance of being aware and intentional in the way we use this technology. Platforms like Youtube, Instagram, Reddit, or Facebook can be a positive addition to your life, or a black hole sucking up your time and energy.
I remember one time when I wanted to message a friend on Instagram. I grabbed my phone and opened the app. After a few minutes, I noticed that I got lost and was scrolling through my feed — I hadn’t texted my friend. This was alarming. I opened the app with a clear intention and still got lost in the algorithm, without even noticing it.
Become more mindful by observing yourself when using social media. By experiencing and understanding the effects, you allow yourself to be more intentional. Put all social media apps into one folder on the last page of your phone. Practice only opening any one of them with a clear intention. Think about what you are trying to do — and for how long, before you open an app.
Outsource your decision-making.
Every decision you make costs energy. And when decisions are mental battles between emotions and rationality, you have to write big checks. Personal growth, however, will require you to make difficult decisions, repeatedly.
Try to not take decisions in critical moments when you have to decide between taking action and staying comfortable. Your mind will tell you to exercise, but do everything to stop you, too. And pushing past the resistance to leaving your comfort zone will be taxing on your energy levels.
Now, that isn’t a fault on your part. Your brain will always try to stop you from expending energy on actions that aren’t necessary for your survival. This is a fundamental issue, because activities with great long-term benefits, like studying or working out won't be instantly gratifying.
The trick is to make decisions in advance, and then prepare and adjust your circumstances in a way that makes following through more realistic. For example, you can prepare a workout playlist, take out your workout clothes and shoes, pack a banana and headphones, and set a timer. When it goes off, you put on your workout clothes, blast your workout playlist, eat the banana, and then smash your workout.
Ride your energy curve like a wave.
The mental and physical energy required to complete tasks and activities depends strongly on the nature of the task or action. Similarly to that, your energy level fluctuates naturally during the day. By taking action appropriate to your current level of energy, you become much more efficient.
Imagine yourself sitting on a swing— your energy curve. When you lean into the movement and embrace it, you will gain a lot of momentum. If you move against the natural movement, however, you will expend a lot of energy without really getting going.
This translates to the way you handle your tasks. Utilize periods of high energy to complete the most challenging tasks, and do the easy effort, like washing dishes or vacuum cleaning when your energy levels are low.
Try to be a little less upset.
There are those days, where you just want to kick something. And I will sound like a moron when I try to suggest simply not being upset instead. But this is a very important idea I need to formulate:
People spend a preposterous amount of energy on getting upset and being offended. And for the most part, it’s totally understandable.
However, being angry and frustrated not only spreads negativity but is also a total waste of energy. Creating awareness and being able to control your emotions has enormous benefits, even though it’s difficult.
Most situations are predetermined by the attitude of the people interacting, even before someone says a single word. Similar to the idea of making decisions before the critical moment presents itself, preparing yourself mentally before interacting will allow you to control and reflect on your emotions.
Don’t fire from the hip.
I remember being way more irritable in stressful situations because I rarely took the time to take a deep breath and actually think about what to say. Firing from the hip when faced with conflict never worked out well for me.
I’ve noticed that people who delayed a reaction by breathing and thinking had much more success in de-escalating conflicts and in avoiding to get emotional.
There are some people who are rude for the sake of it. However, most people aren’t. Most conflicts emerge from misunderstanding each other or because someone is having a really bad day. If the reason for the dispute won’t matter in a week, forget about it. Grant your opposite some leeway in his way of handling the situation, because you know better. Save your energy.
Can I change something about this?
I try to ask myself this question whenever I notice that I’m getting upset. If the circumstances are out of my control, I will try to move on. Being mad at a traffic jam won’t make it disperse, so I will try to accept it.
However, the situation inside the car is not out of my control. I can blast some music, listen to a podcast, or just take this opportunity to think undistracted.
Change what you can, accept what you can’t.
Self-reflection is the fertilizer for personal growth.
There is no way to avoid making mistakes, except hiding under a rock. And unless you are a lobster, that’s a bad strategy. People who make mistakes, however, have the opportunity to learn from them and do better next time. Do that.
Part II: Better recovery
For me, an even bigger challenge than optimizing my efficiency was improving energy recovery. I would rarely get up in the morning feeling refreshed and energized. And when I did, it made me even more eager to find out the secrets to perfect rest.
Plot twist: You are not resting.
I used to think that not doing something productive was enough to be resting and recharging energy. This made me wonder why browsing social media for an hour or watching youtube videos made my mental energy decline even further. Now, in retrospect, this was silly. Our brains need real breaks from stimulation and exertion.
If you look at a screen, your brain isn’t resting. As hard as it is, practice doing nothing for 10 to 15 minutes when mentally exhausted. Sit somewhere comfortable, drink something you enjoy, and just stare out the window or at the wall. No music, no podcasts, and no visual stimulation from devices or books. Focus on releasing the tension in your body and truly relax. This will refresh you like a double-espresso.
Power-napping can work, as long as you don’t “sleep” for more than 20 minutes. I rarely nap, but when I do, I set a timer for 20 minutes. I never really fall asleep, but I rest and relax for 20 minutes and that’s very energizing. Drink an espresso before laying down to get an extra boost. The caffeine takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes to kick in.
I still struggle with developing meditation as a habit and therefore I can’t speak about meditation from personal experience, even though the scientific literature suggests that meditation is one of the best ways to rest and recharge, apart from sleeping.
Sleep might be the biggest piece in this puzzle. While you are sleeping, your body is regenerating energy and healing itself. However, if you get very little or low quality sleep for an extended amount of time, the negative effects will be devastating on your productivity and physical as well as mental health.
While sleep is a complicated topic, I found that the most practical trick is to get up at the same time each day. I’m closer to being a night owl than an early bird. However, I can still get up early and feel amazing, because I rise at roughly the same time each day, every day. We often underestimate how well our body is designed to adjust to new circumstances.
When implementing this, don’t focus on the time you go to bed. Instead, force yourself to get up at the same time each day. After a few days, your circadian rhythm will change and you will be tired when it’s a good time to sleep. It’s important, however, to keep waking up at the same time even on days where you went to bed late. Stick to your wake-up time and you will see results within a week.
Have something to get up for.
Do you remember how you used to jump out of bed when it was your birthday as a kid? You woke up and had something to look forward to. You couldn’t wait to get started with your day, and open birthday presents, of course. When there is something great to look forward to, you will bolt out of bed.
This is similar to the effect that music has. Good music will release a rush of energy instantly. Now, the interesting part is that this energy originates solely from your mind. What you think and feel at that very moment triggers this reaction. And this means you can replicate this effect.
Before you go to sleep today, think about something you can be excited about tomorrow. Consider something productivity-related, that you are excited to get done to advance your life, and something fun or exciting that you can enjoy afterward.
Now, there is a lot more to energy management than I covered in this story. In the future, I will discuss nutrition, exercise, mental wellness, and other topics that are related to energy in general.
I hope this was helpful. Remember, everybody is different, so results may vary. Anyhow, I am looking forward to your feedback and your experiences with energy management. Leave a comment with your insights and experiences!
Thank you for reading, I sincerely appreciate your time. Consider following me for future content!