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The Energy Factor

sleeping-catBeing truly organized requires a balance of three limited resources:  space, time, and energy.  The first two are pretty obvious, but “energy” is often overlooked.   You may be working in a comfortable, productive space and you may have what seems like a well planned out schedule, but if you haven’t budgeted for your energy levels, it can all come unravelled.  Here are some simple tips to manage your energy levels.

The Weekend Myth.

It’s Monday morning again and you’ve blown another “golden opportunity” to assemble your photo album from your trip to Europe and to read that great novel all your friends are talking about. Forgive yourself. This is an example of the weekend myth we tell ourselves. The myth is that a weekend is an open-ended stretch of time to catch up on things. In reality it’s only two unscheduled mornings and two afternoons, which tend to evaporate into activities like doing the laundry, mowing the lawn, sleeping in, and going to the beach, the movies, or the ball game. The key to finding peace with yourself Monday is not to be overly ambitious Friday. You need this opportunity to do house chores, enjoy friends and family, and recharge your batteries. Maybe you schedule an hour Sunday afternoon to start that photo album.

Know Your Natural Rythms.

Some people’s energy levels peak first thing in the morning, others really get going after dinner.  Don’t fight these natural rhythms.  Make adjustments to work WITH them.  For example, if you are required to be in at work at nine and you are not a morning person, see if you can take the train into work instead of your car, so you can some extra winks on the commute.

The “Rainy Day” Plan.

The “Rainy Day” plan is fundamentally flawed.   I have seen no evidence that anyone is ever more acclimated to organizing their old playbills during bad weather than during fair weather.  Furthermore, MOST projects need to be done indoors anyway.  In fact, given the weather this year, it would make sense to plan for “sunny day” projects! The “rainy day” plan is simply false energy relief.

Sharpen Your Saw.

Exercise, rest, and proper nutrition are more than just nice ideas.   They are essential tools to fuel your productivity.  If you’re working from home and you’re in a daze, a 10 minute nap can do wonders to your energy levels.  Always running 10 minutes late to work?  Take a 15 minute brisk walk first thing in the morning.  This seems counterintuitive, but it gives you enough energy to make up for the 15 minute walk PLUS the 10 minutes you are late.  Invest in energy, YOUR energy, and it pays major dividends.

Allow Flexibility in Schedule.

An overwhelming schedule is one of the surest ways to drain your energy.   The problems with schedules and to do lists is that they are unrealistic.  Why? Because they don’t factor in flexibility and perspective, both essential to working with time, not against it.   Solution:  I use a computerized system to print out a daily schedule, but it is ONLY for fixed appointments, not to-dos.  Those I put on little post its, some of which I get to and cross off, the rest I move to the following day or days.  This helps manage your priorities and leaves openings for crucial moments to stand back and reflect.

Live in the Moment.

If you are spending all your energy cataloging your past and sacrificing for the future, it’s hard to enjoy the here and now and this drains your energy further.  Living in the moment is not only essential to staying organized, but is essential to finding happiness.  You can get some great advice on finding happiness at Zen Habits.

TODAY’S KEY TO UNLOCKING CLUTTER:  Don’t set out for an ambitious destination before factoring in the size of your gas tank.

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