Energy and persistence conquer all things. – Benjamin Franklin
I am impressed with how entertainers are able to control energy levels throughout a performance. They all seem to have a unique way of harnessing the crowd’s energy and integrating it into their show. Similarly, athletes seem to effortlessly call on energy reserves when they are competing. Those at the top of their game seem to be able to turn to their talents in bursts of activity at the exact moment their team needs them. As I observe these professionals I wonder if they have an endless supply of energy or maybe an internal switch that allows them to cycle on or off as they wish.
A few months ago as I struggled to stay awake at my desk, I wondered if there was a better way to overcome the afternoon slump. I spent most of my life impressed by the performers and athletes that seem to have endless stores of energy. I concluded that some people naturally have extra energy and the rest of us are destined to be in awe of their long lasting “batteries”. It was that idea that drove me to try and make up for my lower energy levels with caffeine or power naps. When that did not help I recognized that my habits may have a greater impact on my energy levels than I originally thought. Based on that realization I started a quest to find which combination of choices worked best for me. After some changes I found the following 5 habits made the greatest improvement on my energy levels.
- Get a full night’s sleep – It is very tempting to stay up that extra hour to work on a project and get it just right or to watch just one more episode of your favorite series. However, I found that when I get 6-8 hours of quality sleep each night I have more energy and am more effective the next day. I make it a habit to make sure I am in bed and asleep on time each night so that I am able to apply my energy throughout the next day, increasing my effectiveness.
- Set a consistent wake up time – Your body gets into natural rhythms and a consistent wake up time every day helps you to stay in sync with that rhythm. I especially found that sleeping in on weekends caused me to be sluggish during the first part of the week until I got used to once again waking up early in the mornings.
- Exercise – Exercise gets the blood flowing through our body and the aches out of our muscles and joints. An exercise routine helps the body to recognize where it is in the natural rhythm of your day and well timed exercise can provide an energy boost at just the right time.
- Be mindful of what you eat and drink – I like to snack. If there is food around it is a good bet that I will eat it. However, when it comes to keeping consistent levels of energy not all food is created equal. So, I learned that eating food just because it is available is not the best philosophy. As I paid attention to what and when I ate I realized certain foods and drinks kept my energy levels high while others caused me to become drowsy.
- A day of rest – Work and chores at home can consume the weekend making the idea of taking a day to rest seem daunting. You may feel like you can not afford a full 24 hours where you are not working. But, I found that taking time off refreshes my mind to the point where I am far more productive throughout the rest of the week. Now, I can not afford not to take a day of rest each week.
Over the past few months I adjusted each of these habits to try and see if they really did make a difference, and for me they did. While on a business trip I did not keep up with all five of these lessons: on some nights I got less sleep, I did not maintain the same diet, I missed workouts, and I did not take a day of rest. Even though the trip was short there was a noticeable difference in my levels of energy by the end of the trip. I am now convinced that these habits can help increase my levels of energy but I understand that your experiences may differ. However I encourage you to experiment and see what improvements you can make in your energy levels.
What is one thing you do that gives you more energy?