Last week I woke up with a weird feeling in my body. I recognized the feeling vaguely, from the distant past, but I couldn’t pinpoint what it was. I tried to analyze: I felt relaxed, lazy even, satisfied? It was like all my cells were yawning and smiling. And suddenly I knew: for the first time in ages, I felt ‘fully charged’, just like the battery of a phone. All my cells were saturated with sleep, fully energized. It was a very fulfilling, lazy, satisfying feeling.
For years I have been struggling with managing my energy. Apparently I’m finally getting some results, so I would like to share my best tips for energy management with you!
Can it be this simple?
Focus on one thing only
It was just a few days before leaving for Thailand and renting out my apartment for the winter, so I had a lot on my plate. The past few days I had felt a bit stressed and overwhelmed, but that morning, with that strangely familiar feeling of having a fully charged battery, I decided to start an experiment. What if I only focused on one thing that day? I had to facilitate an event, so would not have time to do anything else, anyway. So why not be fully present and not stress myself over things I could not influence or do? So I took a deep breath, blocked all other things on my to do list and focused only on delivering the best facilitation for the event.
And guess what? It worked! I did not feel stressed. And at the end of the day I had a satisfied feeling, knowing that I had completed what I had to do, and I still had some energy left.
Management lessons from monkeys
The event was about education and took place in a zoo! One of the speakers was a primate specialist who taught us what we can learn from monkeys. His main message was: “the most important task of a leader in nature is to minimise waste of group energy.” Monkey leaders make decisions on when and where to eat and rest. They avoid -or break up- fights. They make sure there is a clear hierarchy, so group members don’t waste energy on tasks or positions that are not theirs. If energy management is so important that it is the sole task of a group leader in nature, then shouldn’t we pay much more attention to it?
We all know that you can train your mind to focus on a particular thing. What you focus on, directs your energy. Meditation is not always easy, but you can train it, like a muscle. I found a great app: Headspace. My favorite meditation ‘pack’ is called appreciation. It helps you to cultivate the sensation of appreciation so that it becomes something you feel, not think. It gives me space and opens my heart.
* Time *
Coincidentally the next day I read an article about time perception. There are three types of time: 1) clock time: this is fixed, and the same for everybody. 2) perceived time: this is what we agree on and what drives our days; appointments, business, tasks. One minute waiting for an elevator might feel much longer than one minute spent with a loved one. 3) your body time: we hardly even get/take the time to feel when you actually feel tired, hungry, lazy etc.
Feel your own body time
The next Sunday, I did another experiment. I created one day without any appointments or obligations. That day I was living on my body time. I slept until my body wasn’t tired anymore. Had a lazy breakfast and then felt like going back to bed. After another lazy hour, I felt like going outside, even going for a run. It feels so different when you do these things because you feel like doing them, instead of ‘having’ to do them, because they’re scheduled. Also I did not bring a phone, so when I went for a cup of tea and a bite after the run, I was – for the first time in a loooong time – without the distraction of social media or the internet. At the end of the day I felt so relaxed, more connected to myself.
Even so-called productivity gurus realize that procrastination is important to give our busy minds some rest. “Put doing nothing at the top of your to do list” they advise, or “I plan 1 hour per day for the unexpected…” These are some of their ways to approach the topic. Yet to me this is using the same tools that created the problem for trying to solve it.
DO try this at home… 🙂
– Be more aware of your body time. What do you feel? What does your body try to tell you?
– Plan a day (or longer?) without any appointments
– Spend more time without your phone
– No screens (phone, TV, laptop) one hour before going to bed.
– For me, sleep is very important. Test how you feel when your body is saturated with sleep.
How to light your fire
…without a burnout
All these experiences and insights and tips are part of my new book. I feel like it is growing inside me as the time to write it comes closer. During the writing week in Thailand and ‘Cruise your business’ from Barcelona to Buenos Aires I am finally putting it on paper. No deadline. The story is writing itself. It is evolving over time. If you want to know more… sign up here
I have a ‘love/hate relationship’ with this Dutch Caribbean island where I have lived for 7 years. I have not been there for a year and suddenly I meet long lost friends, dream about the island, instantly longing for it’s energy. A few weeks ago I just booked a ticket: the entire month of March I will be on Curaçao. I have rented an amazing villa and am inviting a select group of friends and entrepreneurs to join a writing retreat or boost your business.
Write your book in Curaçao?
March 5th – 11th
Boost your business in Curaçao?
March 11th – 17th
P.S. all my retreats are business trips and thus tax deductible… 🙂
One year to freedom
Where is Esther?
My Australian virtual assistant of 2 years, Lesley, will fly in from Vietnam and we’ll meet for the first time ‘live’. We’ll be ‘getting shit done during a productivity sprint in Chiang Mai.
Then I head back to Amsterdam for two weeks to prepare ‘Cruise your Business’ from Barcelona to Buenos Aires.