As working moms, we wear a lot of different hats. Some of them -- such as "Director of Innovative Ideas" or "Manager of Difficult Situations" -- require a lot of energy. Others -- like "Sandwich Maker" or "Routine Memo Writer" -- are far less taxing.
I dream of having just the right amount of energy to devote to any given task at hand at just the moment I need it. What's exciting is that, with a bit of introspection and planning, I know that I can get very close to realizing this dream -- and you can, too.
Most of us have energy levels that vary wildly throughout the day. There are times and situations when we feel creative, energetic, productive, happy, or persistent, and there are times when we feel sapped, irritable, lazy, or defeated.
When we try to do something that requires a lot of energy during a time of day that we feel drained, it doesn't go so well. For me, this would be like trying to write an article at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon. Really I should be filing, or folding laundry, or just staring out the window.
Conversely, if I use my most creative time to make appointments or pay the company bills, I've wasted a great opportunity to move a step ahead with my goals that require a lot of thinking.
The good news is that most of us have a fairly predictable energy pattern during the day. For example:
I know that 5:30 a.m. is technically a time, but it's not one that I personally choose to experience.
If I work after 9:30 p.m., then I have a hard time getting to sleep.
I love to walk the dog briefly in the middle of the day.
I pray that my kids' big emotional issues will occur between 4 and 4:15 pm on weekdays (or any time on the weekend!)
Which brings me to the bad news: Our energy cycles may be predictable, but there are a lot of situations in our day that aren't. We get the irate customer call when we're feeling exhausted. We have the great idea about a new product line at midnight, keeping us fired up into the wee hours.
When we recognize and understand our energy sources and cycles, we have a lot more control over our productivity and how we feel during the day. With this awareness we can plan ahead to match what we do to the energy available to us. If we practice this often enough, we'll feel better during those times that really test us. This is because we'll have an overall experience of feeling “in tune” with ourselves.
Here are five essential steps to using your energy wisely: