Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh,
Thursday, June 16, 2016
Updated: Thursday, June 16, 2016
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Contributed by Linda O’Neill, Vice President, Strategic Services, Vigilant
Vigilant is a sponsor of HR West Seattle - July 15, 2016
As business people, most of us know how to work within a budget. We realize our money is limited so we prioritize our needs and spend what we do have wisely. Yet when it comes to energy, many of us fail to manage our reserves, let alone acknowledge that we need to. Like a compulsive shopper who ignores her empty bank account, we continue to overexert ourselves, accepting yet another meeting request when we’re already booked, working long hours without stopping even after our energy has been depleted.
The consequences of this behavior are dire. On an individual level, running on empty can take a toll on us physically and mentally, reducing both our satisfaction and our productivity. And on an organizational level, it can lead to low levels of employee engagement, increased medical costs, and high turnover.
Indeed, studies show that employees who manage their energy are far more productive than those who don’t. For example, a study by The Energy Project found that workers at Wachovia Bank who participated in an energy renewal program brought in more revenue than a control group who didn’t. In addition, 61 percent of participants reported the program had a positive impact on their relationship with clients and customers, while 71 percent said it had a substantial or positive impact on their productivity and performance.
Energy is our most strategic asset. Yet it’s a limited resource that needs to be managed. To be productive, engaged, healthy, and fulfilled, we need to budget the energy we have so we spend it wisely—both in and outside the workplace. We also need to take time to renew our reserves so that we sustain our energy over time.
So how exactly can employees manage their energy more wisely? Here are six tips to take you from energy deficit to high energy reserves:
Understand what depletes your energy. Make the time to quiet down and observe yourself without judgment. This can be accomplished through meditation, a walk around the block, or just sitting quietly. Recognize what makes you feel tired, stressed, anxious, or resentful. And listen when you hear yourself say, “Enough is enough.”
Recognize what gives you energy. Pay attention to who you are, what your values are, and what you want from life. Ask yourself when you’re your most optimal self. Does being around people give you energy? Is it quiet time at your desk? Is it completing a specific type of project? Speaking in front of a group? What gives you peak energy is also most likely where you make your most meaningful contributions.
Set boundaries that help you be your best. Once you determine what gives you energy, you can proactively work to maintain your energy over time. If you’re at your best in the morning, for instance, but lack energy after you eat, schedule your most challenging activities for when you first arrive at work and your meetings after lunch. If you’re an introvert, break up your meetings over the course of the week, and allow yourself time for renewal in between. If you’re an extrovert, intersperse meetings to break up the solo time at your desk. A lot of us have more control over our workday than we realize—and we have the option of saying “no” more than we think we can.
Know what energy you want to be around. Notice how your work environment makes you feel. Does the pace of work energize or drain you? At what pace are you your best? Similarly, do the people you work with make you feel fulfilled or depleted? Whenever possible, surround yourselves with people who leave you feeling uplifted and energized. And ultimately, if the energy of your workplace doesn’t match your optimal self, maybe it’s time for a new job.
Neutralize the effects of second-hand stress. If you work in a demanding environment, chances are there are stressed out people around you. Like the flu, stress can be contagious. Yet while we can’t always avoid stressed out people, we can neutralize the negative effects—in the same way that a strong immune system shields us from sickness. In fact, evidence shows that we can boost our “emotional immune system” by meditating, exercising, writing down the things we’re grateful for, and whatever else helps us to create a positive mindset.
Find ways to renew your energy. Your personal energy is like the gas in your car. Your vehicle won’t take you where you want to go if you use up the fuel without filling it back up. In the same way, we need to constantly refill our energy reservoir to avoid running on empty. Set boundaries both at work and in your personal life. Make time for renewal by giving yourself permission to take breaks, exercise, nourish yourself, and get the rest you need. And don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself to other people. Managing your energy for optimal results will look different for you than it does for the person in the office or cubicle next door. Focus on being the best you can be—because in the end, it’s about each of us making our unique and most valued contribution.
Following these six steps will set you on the path toward optimal energy even in the most demanding work environments. By managing your energy, you’ll be able to accomplish more in less time. Even better, you’ll consistently be able to put your best self forward—one that’s engaged, competent, passionate, energetic, and fulfilled.
About the Author
Linda O’Neill is an executive coach, organizational development consultant, facilitator, as well as an external and internal communication expert. She specializes in the areas of executive coaching, leadership assessment, leadership/team development and meeting, offsite and workshop facilitation as well as communication strategy and change management. Linda is an International Coach Federation certified executive coach and a certified analyst relations professional. Linda is a certified Hogan and Core Value Index assessment consultant. She joined Vigilant in 2013. Connect with Linda on Linkedin.
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