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Use the Energy You Have Efficiently

Don't write when you should be filing

by Heather Mundell  |  1853 views  |  4 comments  |        Rate this now! 

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:

About the Author

Heather Mundell is a mother of two daughters and life and career coach. Visit her online at and

Read more by Heather Mundell

4 comments so far...

  • Selene, I'm glad that this article inspired you to look at your energy levels and see what you can figure out! As for 4am, if it works for you and you can somehow remain standing at the end of the day, good for you.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Heather Mundell on 20th March 2008

  • What a unique approach! I'm always reading articles on productivity and trying to schedule your tasks, etc. But none have really touched upon mapping your high and low energy times of the day.

    There are a few times that stick out in my mind... Athough I hate getting up early, I find that once I'm actually awake, I have the most amount of energy and am most productive in the obscenely early hours (ie 4am).

    I often hit a tired slump mid-afternoon, but that is also the same time as my daughter's nap, and thus a good time for me to get work done, too, lol.

    It will be a fun experiment to really map my energy levels, then match certain tasks to the different times.

    I'm looking forward to doing this - it can only make me that much more productive! :)

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Selene M. Bowlby on 19th March 2008

  • Yes, one thing that can be challenging for me is to wait to tidy up until it makes "sense" to from an energy-perspective, because it really bugs me to see the house in chaos. I'm learning not to see it until I've gotten the more important stuff done.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Heather Mundell on 10th March 2008

  • Great suggestions. Thanks! You are spot on when you observe that there are optimal time for certain tasks. Personally, I have quit doing any easy yet mundane tasks around the house (tidying etc) while my daughter is napping. I either use that time as good "real" work time or I take it easy and rest up. We're often alone together ALL day and I have to pace myself.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Diane on 7th March 2008