Being the CEO of growing companies, I spend a lot of time and energy in the realm of both strategy and implementation.
The only way that I'm capable of accomplishing this much while keeping burnout at bay – and staying in the world of fatigue that is reasonably easy to recover from – is by being extremely intentional about managing my energy.
So, as leaders, what can we do to better manage our energy?
For sure, managing our energy involves a lot of aspects. But there are three top areas that I pay the most attention to.
What does it mean to “be aware of planned elevated levels of required energy”?
It's about all of the big growth pushes that we cycle through. Growing a business requires a lot of momentum. It requires us to be that force that will move things forward. To dig in and find that energy that will propel everything forward. That energy that will inspire and create change. That will move us closer to our goals. And that is demanding.
Therefore, we need to pay attention to how many of those pushes we do in a row.
During growth, there are usually many moving pieces and an increase in unexpected challenges. Dealing with all of those requires tremendous energy.
Which is why it becomes essential to pay attention to how many quarters in a row we sustain that intensity. Otherwise, we risk overwhelming our team as well as ourselves.
Of course, there are times when we must push. When we simply must figure out how we're going to sustain that energy and even potentially increase that energy for an extra quarter. There are times when it is crucial for the business.
But if we're able to find a way, and maybe it's not an entire quarter, maybe it's even a month in that quarter, or a couple of weeks where we can dial it back a little bit, take a moment to breathe, it will make all the difference.
There are many things that are out of our control. Especially as leaders, we are constantly having things thrown at us. To the point where at times, we end up going from one crisis-of-the-day to the next.
Which is why trying to manage our schedules requires a firm hand. This includes ensuring that, as much as possible, trying to add breathing room in the schedule. Leaving room for the unexpected. I actually build a buffer in my schedule. And guess what? It always ends up getting filled to catch up on something. I have yet to have a day when my scheduled buffer time arrived and I have nothing to do. That has not happened yet. Leaving room for the unexpected helps manage your energy.
Another aspect to managing your schedules is giving yourself some breathing room between meetings. For many meetings, I started making them 45 minutes instead of 60 to build in transition time. This allows me to make notes about the meeting that just ended, to prepare for the upcoming one, to stretch my legs – although I do take most of my meetings standing up – or just get the flow going in the legs again.
Even a 10-minute meditation between two meetings will help calm the mind.
Part of managing our energy involves re-energizing ourselves. There is the looking after ourselves aspect where we focus on eating well, exercising, taking time off, going outside, etc. And there is the aspect of re-energizing ourselves where we do activities that revitalizes us.
For example, it could be a weekly golf game where you play with some friends, share some laughs, perhaps walk the course, and focus on hitting the ball as well as possible. It could be playing video games and becoming engrossed in that world. Or taking the time to cook a special meal. Not just rushing to make dinner but enjoying the creativity of whipping up something different.
The idea is to be involved in something that will take us out of that organizational and strategic mindset.
By managing your energy in this manner, as a leader, you are role modeling what that looks like. If team members are exhausted or if they suffer from decision fatigue, they won’t be able to perform at the level that they are capable of.
So if you're demonstrating to the team members that it's important to be able to function successfully at high levels, long term, that means managing your energy.
As for most things, yes, there needs to be a balance. We need to stay accountable and ensure that the work gets done. But if it's not possible to both manage the energy and accomplish what is needed, then there may be an issue that needs to be examined more closely. If no one has the time to manage their energy, that's a problem. The team will burn out. You will burn out.
In my experience, by managing my energy in this manner, I found that I'm able to accomplish so much more and do so effectively. The quality of the output when I manage my energy is exponentially better than when I try to go all out for too long. So if you're struggling with managing your energy, start with re-energizing yourself. Find those things that reinvigorate you and tackle the rest as your energy levels increase once again.