1. Know what you want out of life
This is a very important first step.
Because if you don’t know what you want to do each day, there’s no point in spending the time to manage your energy.
You’ll be like a bouncy ball going all over the place, and you’ll end up bouncing off a wall and rolling into a pile of mud–or worse.
Before you can protect your energy, you need to know what you want your energy to go towards.
Do you want to have energy to spend with family and friends?
If so, which ones?
Or maybe you want energy to put into a business pursuit.
So ask yourself what you want out of life.
Ask questions over and over until you get to the core of the core of what you want.
Only then can you take the next steps to protect your energy.
2. Perform an energy audit
This sounds really technical and boring, but it’s the best way I can describe what you need to do next.
By energy audit, I mean take some time to assess your energy levels.
And then document where your energy is going each day.
On any given day, how do you spend your time?
Who do you spend it with?
Are there certain tasks that are more draining than others?
Why are they more draining?
You’re probably noticing that I love questions.
Ask better questions, and you get better answers.
It doesn’t really matter how you do this energy audit.
You could write down all of your daily activities on a piece of paper. You could type up your energy audit. Or you could have a conversation with a friend who will give you unbiased feedback about how you’re using your time.
Whatever you do, just make sure you’re capturing as much as possible.
Before you can protect your energy, you need to know where your energy is going in the first place.
3. Group your energy into energy buckets
What on Earth does this mean? Energy buckets?
More like, I’m confused, Charlie Bucket!
What I mean is this: Once you’ve documented what you’re doing throughout the day, I now want you to consider how your various activities impact how you feel.
Here are some energy categories to consider as you’re doing this:
- Positive energy
- Negative energy
- Healthy energy
- Toxic energy
- Spiritual energy
- Replenished energy
This is not an exhaustive list, but it should give you plenty to start with.
Think about the ways you spend your time. And then think about how these activities impact your energy levels and how in which bucket they fall.
Are there certain things you do that always drain your energy?
What about people? Are there people in your life that you consider toxic?
The goal is to get rid of the bad activities and people and add more of the good.
Your energy is valuable, and it’s yours.
You need to protect it.
4. Find the people, practices, and places that boost your energy
Only after you’ve done the work in steps one through three should you move on to this step.
This is where most people start, but if you’re not interrogating the way you spend your time, you’re likely going to miss something.
The final step consists of choosing what’s good for you.
Who are the negative people in your life?
You should know that by now.
And you should know that spending time with them is draining you of your precious energy.
How can you avoid them and spend time with people who boost your energy?
Do you need to change your friend group?
Do you need to join a group, club, or organization that has people who are more like you and share your values?
If you’re a bubbly person, you might want to spend time around bubbly people.
If you’re an altruistic person, maybe you need to join a nonprofit or volunteer your time doing something you deeply care about.
What you don’t want to be is a difficult person, and that is probably what you’re going to become if you spend time with people who bring you down.
I start with people because we are energized beings.
We need each other for health and happiness.
But there are other things you can do to maintain or boost your energy.
For me, I love walking.
Walking around always gives me more energy. I do it whenever I’m feeling down. I walk until I feel better.
But I also like to write. Writing is a form of meditative energy for me.
You might have a meditation habit or time you set aside for prayer and reflection.
Choose practices that you will actually do. Don’t pick something that you hate.
If you don’t like going to the gym, don’t go to the gym. Choose practices that you can maintain over time.
A simple practice is always better than a complicated practice.
We don’t often think of places as energy-giving, but I’ve absolutely found that to be true.
I moved back to Montana after going to Virginia for grad school because I missed how it made me feel. Virginia was killing me inside. People were so concerned with how they looked and what they did for work. No one seemed to want to have meaningful conversations.
My wife and I consider Montana our spiritual home.
We can look at the mountains from our house and feel grounded. I actually feel energized being in nature.
What about you?
Are there places that give you energy?
Do you like the bustle of an urban environment, or are you more of a rural animal?
Just like people and practices, you need to be ruthless about the environments you spend your time in.
Where you are plays a big role in determining how you feel.