Managing My Energy
This post is the fifth and last in a series about my working life
Energy comes in many forms, physical energy, mental energy and perhaps most importantly the elusive proxy for energy, willpower. The relationship between these forms of energy is hard to define, its clear to me though that whilst willpower can drive the body and mind beyond normal levels of endurance, when you are mentally and physically tired day to day willpower is hard to find.
In my life I have other demands on my energy, crushing waves of fatigue sometimes spring from nowhere, brain fog descends upon my usually pretty energetic brain, chronic pain throughout my body saps all forms of energy. So I need to think about managing my energy every hour of the day, a bit like a diabetic thinks about their blood sugar.
My energy management plan is a bit like a data backup schedule, I have a daily energy management plan, a weekly plan and a monthly. Each year I review the last few years, look for trends and improvements to get me through the next few years until retirement.
I often think I am walking a tight rope, managing all the different elements of my life, so I don’t fall off into a flare, balancing:
- the need to keep move with getting too physically tired
- the need do important work so that I don’t get bored with the need to keep stress levels low
- the relief of pain killers with the long term migraines that pain killer overuse stimulates
- filling my days with work and the need to relax, meditate, eat well …
With this context then here’s the strategy that I use:
- Work free mornings – Dedicated to meditation, exercise, reading and research
- Work only in the afternoon – Each day I restrict myself to 4 hours of committed work, sitting at a desk or in a face to face meeting. It’s often quite difficult to stop myself doing more than this because I work with some great teams and we do exciting work but I’m pretty good at it now.
- Rest and relax Fridays – Dedicated to meditation, exercise, reading and research, reviews of the past week, planning for the next week. However I have no expectations for Fridays, they are recovery days.
- Weekends – Dedicated to family time, house and garden, but I also continue to do the meditation, exercise, reading and research first thing in the morning.
- Think Weeks – Once a month I take a Think Week. I don’t do any committed work, but I still work every day. The difference is that after I’ve done the meditation, exercise, reading and research I will do more walking than usual normally listening to a work related audio book and also read a business book. I’ve found that it’s best to travel during these weeks otherwise I just slip into my normal work routine.
- Holiday Weeks – Once a month I take a weeks holiday, I still do my daily meditation, exercise, reading and research, but my focus is total relaxation. I’ve found that it’s best to travel during these weeks otherwise I just slip into my normal daily routine.
So in summary the pattern looks like this:
I Work 4 hours a day, 4 days a week. Every other week I take a weeks break either as holiday or as a Think Week.
Looking deeper into my day, there’s no ‘normal’ pattern but I strive for something like this:
- I wake at 6:30
- Spend 45 minutes getting up, getting ready, meditating and eating a big salad
- Walk 15 minutes to Caffe Nero
- Buy a bottled water and spend 90 minutes on reading and research
- Walk 20 minutes to the Beach Terrace Cafe, doing some press-ups and dips on the park benches
- Buy Bacon and Eggs and and spend another hour on reading, research, blog posts and reading
- Walk 60 minutes along the beach, maybe walking up and down the sand dunes
- Get home, do the chores, make another big salad
- Drive the 45 minutes to the office
- Have three, hour long meetings with breaks in between
- Drive the 45 minutes home and stop off at a supermarket
- Make dinner, meat and 5 veg
- Go out for an evening walk
- Sit in my recliner and scan my information sources for reading material for the next day
- Do some chores and make supper, a berry salad with cream
- Watch TV for an hour with my wife
- Take a bath and read fiction
- Get to bed by 10:30 so I get 8 hours sleep
There is however a huge amount of variability in my day, depending on how I’m feeling, who I’m meeting and where.
The picture is of one of my beloved beaches, this one at the lovely Cleveleys