How to reconnect with what energizes you.
Try this simple, 5-minute exercise.
If we don’t know what gives us energy, we are likely to wear ourselves out doing things that are depleting instead of energizing.
Energizing activities are those things that we can lose ourselves doing. For me, that includes writing, designing and leading planning retreats, engaging in strategic problem solving, singing and a list of other things. But please please don’t make me figure out how to change the login for the Netflix account or set up a new document management system on Google Docs.
Here’s a simple exercise that will help you shine a light on what energizes YOU.
Step 1: Using Post-It Notes ®, write down all the activities that occupy you during the day — one activity per note.
Step 2: Separate them into two groups, those things that energize you and those that deplete you. You’ll likely have a neutral group — things that don’t really fit into either category. For example, making my bed every day doesn’t energize or deplete me, but having a made bed gives me a sense of order that lets me focus on more important things. This neutral category may be things that help you set the stage for doing what is energizing. Not having those things done may be depleting.
Step 3: Once you’ve done this, ask yourself some questions
What percentage of my time do I spend on energizing activities?
What percentage would I like it to be?
What are some ways I can decrease the amount of time I spend on depleting activities?
Just building awareness is a great first step.
Next steps: Identify What Gets In the Way
What keeps you from doing the things that energize you? Is it a systemic issue that can be “fixed” — a noisy workplace, an old computer, or even an uncomfortable chair?
Too many times we keep tripping over the same thing but never take the time to fix it! As Nike exhorts, Just Do It.
Sometimes what gets in our way requires multiple steps to solve. We can tackle that by asking ourselves a series of “what would it take” questions.
For example, imagine your computer runs slow and you can’t use the software that would make the work easier and more exciting. Yet even when you say you want a new computer there are other potential obstacles.
What will it take to get a new computer?
• Know what kind I want — Do I need expert help on this? Or, do I want to do the research myself?
• Money to buy it — Do I have it? Do I need approval? How do I get approval? And so on…
Once you identify what it will take get that computer, you can focus on removing the blocks and getting on with your energizing activities
A Few Tips…
Have your foundational pieces in place. Do you need a neat desk to get started? A made bed? A cup of freshly sharpened pencils? Whatever it is, create enough order or disorder to do what’s energizing — and remember you don’t have to have everything in apple pie order.
Know when you do your best work. Are you are early morning creative or do you need more coffee and hours up before you are in high gear? If you must handle those neutral or depleting activities, when is it easiest for you? For example, I love writing first thing in the morning and handling organizing tasks in the late afternoon but don’t ask me to reverse them!
Still Stuck? Get Help.
Identify people who are energized doing what depletes you! You can delegate to them, hire them or barter with them — you do this for me and I’ll do this for you.
You deserve to know what gives you juice and what doesn’t. I’d love to hear your ah-ha moments in the comments below!