September 10, 2013 / Stress / Work-Life Integration

How to Keep Up

Sandra asks: I’ve been in my new role for about six months and have been working at a frenetic pace. I have global conference calls late at night and early morning with my team and am working long hours so I don’t miss aggressive deadlines.  I’m not eating the way I used to, and not sleeping well either.  By the time the weekend comes, I’m so tired, I barely see my kids.  How can I better manage my time and still keep up?

Tawny Lees, COO, responds:

The demands of a fast-paced environment can be stressful enough without considering you’re also in a new role.  Working long hours to meet these demands ends up taking a toll, as you’re already experiencing.  Our advice is to focus on managing your energy.  Why?  Because energy is renewable, but time is not. Engaging in practices which recharge your energy will help you meet the demands of work more effectively. We love Tony Schwartz’s advice in this arena.

Everyone has four energy centers.  Here are some tips you can engage in to renew each energy center:

  1. Body/Physical Energy:  SLEEP is most important. Working while continuously sleep deprived is like driving drunk. Seriously. Make 7-8 hours a night a priority. Try to engage in some kind of regular exercise routine – short bursts of intense is best, doesn’t have be long.  Eat high-protein nutrient-dense foods on a regular cycle, not letting your blood sugar and energy crash.
  2. Emotions/Quality of Energy: Try deep breathing exercises, 5-6 second exhale in the abdominal area.  Express appreciation often.
  3. Mind/Focus of Energy:  Carve out time to get your work done without distractions – shut off/down email and phone, for example. Focus in increments, take breaks.
  4. Human Spirit/Energy of Meaning & Purpose:  Determine what you do best and enjoy most at work and figure out how to do it more often.  Create rituals that allow you to allocate time and energy to an area of your life that’s important to you, such as your kids.

Read more about this in Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time, by Tony Schwartz (2007), Harvard Business Review.