Do you want to know how to you keep your energy levels up for better productivity? When it comes to the effect of energy on productivity, what may first come into your mind is physical energy. But apparently, the notion of energy goes more than that.
In his book, The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working: The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great Performance, author Tony Schwartz makes a pronouncement.
What You Need To Know About Energy
He writes that there are four types of energies that influence your level of productivity.
The first type is physical energy; the second is emotional energy; the third is mental energy; the fourth is spiritual energy.
Physical energy is a measure of how healthy you are.
Understandably, if you are unhealthy, you won’t have the necessary physical level of energy to keep going.
Emotional energy provides you with security.
Security in a sense that you can endure the demands of your work regardless of your emotions.
It’s about your ability to control your day instead of the other way around.
Mental energy provides you with an avenue for self-expression.
Note that in this context, ‘self-expression’ isn’t about asserting your personal traits.
It is about how you channel your current energy level in order to focus on your work and raise your productivity.
Spiritual energy provides you with a sense of significance.
And, though you can’t exactly quantify spiritual energy, you can feel its effects.
That’s because it gives you a reason for doing something.
Why are you even striving? What’s your purpose in doing what you’re doing?
By knowing – and recognizing – your answers to these, you will come to appreciate your efforts.
Now, among all the kinds of energy mentioned above, there’s one that you – and the majority of people in the workplaces around the world – may be unconsciously ignoring: physical energy.
If your body is unhealthy, your mental and emotional states may be affected.
And soon, your spiritual energy drains.
In short, the life of the last three kinds of energy depends on what you feed your body.
Then again, there are ways to increase your energy, which will be discussed later on.
What You Need To Know About Productivity
Know these first: productivity isn’t about working longer hours.
That’s called overtime.
It’s not even about being busy, with piles of paper on a desk waiting to be looked at in view of an upcoming deadline.
That’s called cramming.
And it’s not about dropping the ‘non-essential’ components of your daily tasks.
That’s called time management. Yes, productivity isn’t absolutely time management.
Realize this: you live in a society that propagates the culture of doing more in less time.
And in your effort to achieve such, you’ll notice that there are small things here and there that you ought to have done.
However, because society has placed productivity side by side with time management, you think that you’ve done the right thing anyway.
In short, productivity is treated as being equal to production.
It’s a quota-based idea.
The more tasks you tick off your list, the more productive you are. But that belief may not be applicable now.
Around the world, a movement is ongoing that aims to change the way people high up the authorities of companies look at productivity.
To date, experts, researchers, speakers, teachers, consultants, and other professionals are now making noise about what productivity ought to be: energy and attention management.
The Connection Between Energy, Attention, And Productivity
The basic introduction that experts make about productivity is that you need to be mindful about the food you eat.
That’s because nutrition affects more than just our body shape.
It also affects internal processes that help support a productive workday.
In other words, the type of food you eat helps in increasing your energy level and in turn, your productivity.
Back then, the belief was that carbohydrate intake is a way to keep your energy levels up for better productivity.
That part still holds true but there’s a catch.
As digestion occurs in the digestive tract, carbohydrates are broken down into its components. One of these components is sugar.
Sugar intake is one of the ways to boost your energy.
However, sugar may not be readily used by the body as a source of energy. Sugar needs insulin – the hormone produced by the pancreas – in order to do that.
The thing is, insulin travels to the brain through the bloodstream.
And when there’s too much insulin transported to the brain, it releases two hormones: tryptophan and serotonin.
As you may know, both of the above-mentioned hormones are responsible for causing sleep instead of building high energy level.
Truly, the body needs both hormones to do their magic when we go to bed at night, but not when we’re looking forward to a productive workday.
But that’s not all. Related research shows that the level of sugar in the blood may also interfere with productivity. How?
Everything that you do requires you to spend the energy of some sort.
The same applies to internal body processes.
Most notably, the brain, which regulates bodily functions, uses a high energy level derived from sugar.
These processes not only include coordinated movement, and so on, but also includes complex processes such as thinking and sustaining willpower.
What, then, happens when blood sugar is low?
It decreases willpower – that ability to focus on doing something. As a result, productivity levels drop.
The same claim is being made when it comes to the relationship between the food we eat, productivity, and sleep. You know that your body operates through the circadian rhythm, a 24-hour interval cycle.
This rhythm tells us when we’re supposed to go to sleep, when we’re supposed to be awake and to be alert, and when we’re tired and need a break.
But sometimes, the body’s circadian rhythm gets messed up a good deal by an unlikely culprit: Food.
Experts say that one of the keys towards working along the body’s circadian rhythm is being mindful of the food you eat.
For example, experts recommend that if you’re about to engage in vigorous activity, you should avoid fatty foods.
They also recommend not skipping breakfast.
You already know that eating breakfast is one of the ways to boost your energy level and in turn, your productivity.
What about dinner?
Experts say you should eat the least amounts for dinner and give sufficient time between dinner and going to bed.
What Then, Is Productivity?
Based on the above discussions, you may now understand that productivity is a function of three things: time, attention, and energy.
These components are not separate from each other.
In fact, they have to work together in order for you to be productive.
Case in point: if you know that you feel a little slow during the day’s unholy hours – let’s say that’s from 1 PM to 2 PM – and you still eat a lot during lunchtime, then you know that your energy level will take a dip.
And when it does, your ability to sustain your attention over something will also be affected.
What all that does is to make your productivity suffer.
If you know where you should be focusing your attention, it doesn’t matter what task you’re on, who you’re talking to or how long a task takes.
What matters is that you’re devoting your energy in order to complete your work and you know the ways to increase your energy.
Productivity is all about doing the right thing at the right time and for the right reasons.
It’s also about how to maintain high energy levels.
If you put together this opinion of productivity with the goals that you want to achieve, then you know which of your tasks has to be done first and which tasks can wait.
You will also know the people to talk to, when you should talk to them, and how long you need to be involved with them.
Finally, because you know the reason for handling first a task that looks like a non-priority to others, you will be able to establish a reasonable view.
If doing something is reasonable, it is more meaningful.
At the end of the day, you know that you’ve done something right – something that was worthy of your time and your effort.
Strategies To Keeping Your Energy Levels Up For Better Productivity.
Start Your Day By Drinking Water
When you wake up, try pouring yourself a glass of warm water with a splash of lemon and a pinch of salt.
Doing so will help balance your body’s pH and electrolyte levels and improve blood circulation.
This effectively helps in boosting your energy.
In addition, drinking a glass of water before each meal can help boost your digestion, allowing your body to absorb more nutrients.
Watch What You Eat
This has been the focus of the earlier discussions so it can’t be stressed enough.
But try this with a twist by adding superfoods into your diet.
Examples of superfoods are chia seeds, quinoa, wheatgrass, spirulina, maca, and raw cacao.
Also, mind your snacks.
Nuts and dried or fresh fruits are recommended. Eating healthy foods is one of the strategies for keeping your energy.
People with energy find time to work their bodies.
Regular exercise is one of the ways on how to maintain high energy levels.
But there are two things that you can do here.
First is for you to exercise outside and interact with nature. Nature is a natural energy booster. Second, try combining physical exercise with meditation.
No, you don’t have to do both at the same time.
Just think about it: that’s physical and mental power you build in, say, half an hour of each day.
Get Some Sunlight
The sun is a natural Vitamin D source.
Apart from helping build and keep bones strong, Vitamin D also plays a crucial role in muscular function and in protecting the immune system.
A healthy immune system is necessary for boosting your energy.
Get Adequate Sleep
Did you know that insufficient sleep is linked to low energy, weight gain, insulin resistance, fatigue, and premature death?
People with enough energy usually have a good sleeping habit.
However, more people report difficulty sleeping nowadays and that’s mainly because we live in a world full of distractions.
Then again, if you get in tune with your body’s circadian rhythm, you know when you should already be in bed to take a rest.
With this, you will also know when to turn off the light, and to put away those gadgets you bring to bed.
Habits That Boost Productivity
Know Your Procrastination Triggers
We can say a lot about procrastination.
In fact, it’s become a complicated topic.
However, researchers have finally managed to bring in six triggers that account for procrastination not only at work but daily activities in general.
These are as follows:
- Being bored at the task
- Finding the task difficult
- Finding the task frustrating
- The task isn’t personally meaningful
- The task isn’t personally rewarding in a unique way
- Finding the task or the method lacks clarity or that it is unstructured
Face it: Access to social media on your work computer is definitely a tempting distraction which can unknowingly lead someone to procrastination.
What Then, Can You Do?
The key is to find ways of managing your energy.
Management in a sense that you know what to do, where to go, or who to talk to when you recognize that your procrastinating side has been triggered.
For example, if you feel that a task is too difficult, you may want to break it down into its actionable components.
Learn More About Your Biological Prime Time
This is straightforward.
Although they move certain TV shows around the prime-time slot in order to attract more viewers, your body has its unique prime-time slot as well.
In his book, The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy, author Chris Bailey coins the term ‘Biological Prime Time.’
Chris explains in his book that knowing your Biological Prime Time or BPT is one of the ways of managing your energy.
You may know this already but Chris Bailey’s book offers a conceptual standpoint.
Knowing when you’re most energetic throughout the day can help you boost your productivity.
What Chris did was to make a daily graph where he plotted his Energy Level on a scale of 1 – 10 on the y-axis and plotted his work hours by the hour on the x-axis.
This exercise is self-reporting in nature where you need to assign a score of your energy level as you go about the hours of your workday.
As you do this daily, you’ll begin to notice a pattern of high and low energy.
The hours where your energy levels are at its highest is your BPT.
For Chris, who is a writer, his BPT is from 10 AM – 12 PM and from 5 PM to 8 PM.
Then again, the challenge here is that the majority of the people in the workforce following the 9-5 grind.
What becomes of the low-energy hours when everyone has to leave by 5 PM? The answer lies in how the workforce is changing.
Some companies permit people to work on a flexible schedule; most still do not. So it’s all about policy-making.
Create A ‘Waiting For’ List
Having a ‘To-Do’ list is a nice habit. It helps you stay in control of your day. But having a ‘Waiting For’ list can be as nice.
In his book, Getting Things Done, author David Allen says that a ‘Waiting For’ list helps you learn about the things or people that you’re waiting on.
While waiting, you can divert your energy and your attention to another important task.
Project management applications such as TeamworkPM, Agile, and so on, neatly include the concept behind the Waiting For list.
If you’re familiar with these apps, you know that they make use of the word ‘Dependency’ in order to identify things in a project or task that are outstanding.
So if you’re waiting for your manager to sign-off on your proposal, for example, you cannot proceed with the task until that happens.
In the same way, you cannot mark your task in the app as ‘Complete’ because there is an outstanding dependency.
It reminds you to follow things up or chase some people if you will.
It helps you stay on top of things.
Drop The Routine; Randomize Instead
Big companies – at least now- are fond of routine.
They don’t realize that such a routine leads to perceived or even practiced bureaucracy.
That’s because routines are accompanied by rules.
Employee A must be in at 9 AM, has to have finished forwarding emails by 9:30 AM, must be in the meeting room by 9:45 AM, and so on.
Startup companies, on the other hand, can be fun. T
hey can shake up their routine and approach things differently, effectively randomizing things.
That’s because the culture of bureaucracy is still not there. So what can you do when it comes to boosting your energy?
If meetings are an essential part of your operations, try changing the time and place where you meet.
If you’re used to meeting inside a room with white walls and a centralized air conditioning system which is really cold, then try meeting at a nearby café.
The feeling of less to no bureaucracy or less routine helps improve people’s energy levels and their productivity as well.
Have you been able to take away one or two things from this article? Do leave us your comments!