How To Manage your Energy instead of Managing Your Time
For years I had been focusing on ticking things off the list; I didn’t give much thought on if I was enjoying the journey, or if I was fulfilling my life purpose.
To give you an example, before becoming a mum, I would wake up at around 6 am, exercise, get ready for work, work all day, go back home, have dinner (home or out), spend some time reading or watching TV, and go to sleep. Something was nagging at me, but I didn’t know what it was.
Then I became a mother and life changed dramatically; fewer dinner out, fewer restful nights, lots of breastfeeding and cuddling moments. But I was still somewhat ticking things off an imaginary list that I had created; take my baby to an “exercise” class, clean the bathroom, cook the muffins, write an article.
And, by the end of the day, as a mother or a non-mother, I would end up feeling utterly exhausted, and somewhat spent.
Until someone asked me a question that revolutionise my whole way of thinking:
“Are you managing your time, or are you managing your energy? How much energy do you have at the end of the day?”
What do you mean? I asked. Isn’t it normal to feel completed deflated by 8 pm?
This is when I got in touch with the theory of energy management, instead of time management.
Everyone talks about managing the time, although Einstein had taught us in 1915 that time is relative. Some moments last forever (the queue at the shops while you are holding a crying bub), and some that go too quickly (watching your little angel sleeping soundly, tucked in under a warm blanket).
Although we know that time is relative, we still want to control it, and for some reason, we always feel that we don’t have enough time, or that we are running out of time.
On the contrary, we have plenty of time, as soon as we tune in with our body and our energy, and as soon as we modify our expectations.
A woman has 4 cyclical phases that repeat themselves every month: the follicular phase, the ovulation, the luteal phase, and the menstruation.During those stages of life our bodies, hormones, energy levels change dramatically. Yet, every day of our life, we dismiss our feminine body and we power through as if we were men, demanding our body to achieve tasks there are not meant to do.
Do you resonate with that?
Moving from time management to an energy management perspective have overall changed my life, but has in particular:
• Lowered my stress level
• Reduce injuries and bodily pain
• Improved my sleep quality
• Assisted my digestion and absorption of food
• It allowed me to enjoy the present moment with my family.
How did I do that?
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And make parenting (and living) a joyful experience
I started by paying attention to my menstrual cycle
Why would I ask my crampy, pain-ridden body to go to a HIIT class on the first day of my period? And at the same time, why would I isolate myself and do all the kitchen work (editing, website changing) while I was in my follicular phase, brimming with ideas and creativity? As soon as I got in sync with my cycle, I noticed that life became much easier than expected. All of a sudden it was fine to rest when tired, and to pull an all-nighter when filled with energy.
I identified the leak
If you are feeling exhausted and overwhelmed by the end of the day (or even the beginning of it), there is a leak where all your energy falls through; my biggest leak was skipping breakfast, having 3 coffees a day, and thinking I was in charge of parenting my child. When I started introducing a nourishing breakfast, I cut down my coffee intake to one a day, and as soon as I realised that my husband had the same amount of responsibilities I had when it came down to raise our child, I felt that my leak was fixed.
Before it felt as if I was trying to pour water into a broken bucket: pointless and exhausting. After sharing the load and nurturing my body, the bucket fixed itself.
I became gentle toward my body
Forcing myself to do something I didn’t have the energy to do, made me feel miserable. I didn’t realise it straight away, but when I would focus my time doing things that bored the hell out of me or that I really didn’t want to do (ex: going to an event dinner when I craved the comfort of my family), I would always end up frustrated, anxious and sad.
That’s when I introduced gentleness into my routine.
Some days I feel like a rock star, other times I just want to stay in the house and away from society. You can do that, and no apologies are needed. A pretty revolutionary concept, right?
I value my strength instead of punishing my weaknesses
I’m fully awake and creative in the morning, and quite useless at night; when I stopped looking at it as a weakness, but as a strength, life unfolded. I now know it is important for me to focus on creative, urgent or demanding tasks in the morning, while I can do all the editing and the email answering at night when my brain is on energy-saving mode.
I also know that family time recharges me, and I will never be that businesswoman that works 80 hours a week and achieve a million-dollar revenue in less than 6 months; I’m fully aware and fully ok with it, and I feel in balance as long as I align myself with my values.
I allow flexibility
Packing my calendar to the brim has always led to the same problem: crippling anxiety, digestive issues, pain, and poor sleep filled with vivid nightmares.
As soon as I started focusing on what is important, instead of losing my energy in completing menial tasks (for me it was tidying up the house every time my baby went down for a nap), my productivity has increased exponentially. I have realised that I don’t have to do it all, I can outsource, ask for help, and say no.
At the same time, I also started accepting that “surprises happen”; my child gets sick, my husband comes home late from work, or I have to deal with a crippling flare-up.
I now allow myself time for “surprises” (unpleasant or not); for days when I feel glittery and I just want to work, meet people, and enjoy life, and for days when the only thing I can do is staying home with a sick bubba that just wants to be held.
Having flexibility in my weekly schedule, allow me to have flexibility in my life, and I don’t feel anxious anymore when I don’t feel as productive as I would, as there will be time for that, as soon as things go back to normal.