I specialize in working with high performing leaders, people who have high expectations of themselves and won’t settle for less. When work gets really demanding, a high performer often responds by working longer hours, sometimes to the point of getting sick or disillusioned.
Research shows that proactively managing your energy can increase your capacity to get things done and improve your well-being (see HBR article: Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time). This is a lesson I learned the hard way a few years ago at Deloitte when I was leading a high stakes, high visibility initiative for the firm. Since then, I have helped many leaders develop strategies to renew their energy on a daily basis to avoid burnout and get better results.
To understand how well you manage your energy, look at each statement below and note whether it is True or False for you.
1. I rarely get 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
2. I exercise less than 3 times per week.
3. I often skip meals or eat unhealthy food.
4. I constantly deal with interruptions at work, leaving little time to focus on what I need to do.
5. I have little time to reflect so I can be more proactive at work.
6. I have difficulty shutting work off after business hours and on weekends.
7. I feel stressed out and irritable, especially when I'm under pressure.
8. There is a gap between what I think is important and how I actually spend my time.
9. When I do spend time with my family, I'm not fully there.
10. I don't spend enough time doing what I really enjoy or find fulfilling.
The point of this exercise is not to depress you, but rather to give you a quick snapshot of how you are doing. From the list above, choose one area that you would like to improve and identify one action that you will take this week to get started. Take a look at the examples below:
I am going to leave my desk for lunch today.
I will exercise today, even if it is just for 15 minutes.
I will go to bed 20 minutes earlier than I usually do.
I will listen to some good music on the drive home instead of taking another conference call, so I can unplug from work by the time I get home.
I will not check email after 6:30 PM today.
Hopefully these examples will provoke some simple ideas for you. Just get started and you'll notice that your energy level and results improve. Remember, small steps can lead to big results.