There are days when you wake up early, get ready for the day, and knock out a few important things off of your to-do list all before mid-morning. And while you take a moment to give yourself kudos, “Wow, I’ve gotten a lot done this morning!” there’s probably nothing too special about it, you just get things done. 

On the flip side, when you are having a tough day, a stressful day, or one that stirs you emotionally, each little thing adds up sucking your energy away. You may find yourself struggling to pull out enough energy to make it through the day.  

It can be difficult to balance the ever-changing starting balance of your energy as well as all the surprises that pop up through the day that further impact your energy. Today we’ll look at sugar, containers, and spoons to help you understand your energy and how to manage it. 

A spoonful of energy

Think of your day like a clear container in your kitchen that holds something like flour or sugar. The container is your actual day and the item represents the amount of energy that you have in a day. A great day may mean that your container is fully or nearly at the top. A challenging day may mean that your container is only half full….. or even less.

Your activities throughout the day are represented by a spoon. every time that you do an activity, you reach in with your spoon and scoop out a little of what your container is holding. That’s your energy being depleted for the day, bit by bit. Some things like getting out of bed or taking a shower, may only an even spoonful out of the container while your upcoming 2-hour meeting on camera about a stressful topic may take a heaping spoonful out. 

It’s important to realize two things; 1) What the starting volume is in your container. Are you starting off with a full container or do you already know that it’s a half-full kind of day? 2) That unexpected things happen throughout the day that pull from your energy reserve. That could be an unexpected ask from your leader to present a project later that day or a difficult conversation that needs to happen when you get home. 

It is also important to communicate your energy levels, as much as you are comfortable with, with your co-workers, family, and friends to manage expectations. If you are going out for dinner after work, you may let them know that it was a long day at work and you are worn out. Letting the other party know when you’ve hit a low spot in your energy level helps manage expectations for both of you as you interact. 

Keep track of the spoons

To gain a better understanding of your energy levels and what impacts your reserve, keep track of your spoon patterns and pay attention to what contributes to a lot of use. What adds energy to your reserve? Did you hang out with your friends? Did you spend some dedicated time on your hobby? What on your to-do list energizes you?

What contributes to removing a lot of your energy in a day? Do you have a heavy meeting day that involves you being on camera for long periods? Family members have a tough day at school or work? Rehashing a recent personal conflict in your head over and over?  The National Safety Commission lists the time of day, sleep deprivation, time on tasks, work, and personal factors as the top five categories that deplete your energy. 

Having a good understanding of what adds to and takes away from your energy reserve helps set expectations for yourself and as you interact with others as well. Again, communicate those low moments to others, and if they aren’t getting the hints that you are laying out there, be blunt and tell them that you don’t have the energy or capacity to take on more at the moment. If you find yourself in a long season of low energy reach out for professional help or seek medical attention. 

Additional ways to boost your energy

Harvard Health has a short list of four ways to help boost your energy throughout the day. 

  • Eating a protein-rich diet. The study says that increasing your protein intake helps tremendously in increasing your energy. Also splitting your meals into smaller snacks throughout the day can help as well. 
  • Drink your water. For men, the recommended fluid intake is 15 cups a day, and 12 cups a day for women. The study does call out certain fruits as a way to get your liquids including melons, strawberries, and citruses.
  • Sleep. One we all probably need more of. 
  • An exercise routine. We all know exercising boosts our energy among its many benefits. Along the same lines, a good morning routine (Show 236) can give you a boost as well. 

Managing your energy can be hard, but having a good understanding of what contributes to your reserve in a positive and negative way can go a long way in helping make sure that you aren’t running on fumes. 

Make a better tomorrow.