Updated: Sep 10, 2020
As leadership coaches, our clients often seek support to show up fully at the office, navigate roadblocks in their career paths, and manage tricky workplace relationships. For many of us, our work is an enormous part of our identity, and challenges at work can impact our ability to feel our best. Anytime there is uncertainty or change, our work environments can feel complicated and even harder to manage.
Luckily, the key to increasing our effectiveness and our fulfillment at work starts with managing something entirely within our control — our energy. By focusing on managing our energy at work, we can learn to weather the ups and downs of our work lives and keep moving towards our career goals.
To get you started or to reset if you're feeling stuck, focus on these four tactics to better manage your work energy.
1. Take Care of Yourself First
If you're feeling stuck, burnt out, or bummed out over a work situation, the most important thing you can do is give yourself some self-compassion and care first. Two ways to do that are 1) instilling morning routines that set a tone for the day and 2) having a toolbox of small practices you can do throughout the day to reset. Ask yourself: what are you doing each day to release low energy and recharge? Can you make a list of things to do when you need to change your energy? Maybe, for you, it’s exercise, meditation, and journaling. Or perhaps it’s taking a nap, going for a quick walk, or listening to new music. All of these ideas can help you feel recharged — so take the time to notice what works best for you.
It's also worth remembering that your career is still only one part of your full and vibrant life (no matter how important your work is to you). So regardless of how busy work can be, try not to lose sight of other interests and relationships that can give you a fresh perspective. As you look at your schedule for the day or week ahead, are you spending enough time on things not related to work? If not, can you shake it up? As it turns out, you may get your best idea while disconnected from your job.
2. Focus On Things That GIVE You Energy
It's easy to think about energy management as a zero-sum game. It makes sense, right? There are only a finite number of hours each day, along with an endless to-do list. So we think, “I must rush through as many tasks as possible before my energy runs out.”
Luckily for all of us, that's not the way our energy works. Our energy levels rise and fall. And, if you pay close attention, you'll notice that certain things increase your energy. Do you ever notice that time can fly while you're brainstorming with colleagues or writing copy for a new product you’re excited to launch? You can usually tell you're doing energy-giving work when you're feeling in flow or in the zone. You may even be able to zoom through tedious tasks after a few hours of energy-giving work.
Try identifying at least three tasks, activities, or things about your job that give you energy. From there, consider how you can prioritize your schedule around those tasks. Can you make sure you're doing at least one thing each day that gives you energy?
3. Be Mindful Of The Energy Of Others & Take Ownership Of Yours
When it comes to feeling good at work, our relationships with our colleagues are critical — regardless if you’re in the office or on Zoom. As you increase your energy management skills, it can feel frustrating to experience low or negative energy from those around you. Yet it's essential to remember that we all move through different energy levels all day. So start by getting curious about energy levels at work. For example, is your teammate in a bad mood this afternoon, or does she always seem to bring negativity? Is there a go-to person you seek out for a pep talk when you need a boost? Identify the energy that each coworker typically brings to the table (or Zoom call).
At the same time, don't fall into the trap of blaming your low energy on others. Unlike what you may think, our energy is attracted to similar energy (like attracts like). So if that angry colleague is always calling you first to vent, it's worth considering your energy to see if you may be leaning too hard into anger yourself. Stay focused on owning and raising your own energy at work, and you'll be amazed at how the energy of others naturally shifts around you.
4. Let Your Vision Pull You Forward
We all have a different vision for our career success. Consider when was the last time you wrote down your vision for your job? What does it feel like to show up for work every day? Who are you working with, and how do you spend your time on the clock? Why are these things important to you? Take at least 15 minutes to journal on these questions and come back to them as often as possible — just like our energy changes, or visions can too.
The more comfortable with it you get, consider talking to your teammates about your vision and theirs. Vision exercises allow us to break through feeling stuck, find the motivation behind our goals, and see new options and creative possibilities. As you elaborate and explore your vision, allow it to pull your energy up and forward. Consider what you can create or build while operating from that energy. What if all that you imagine is possible? What if it's already in the works? Of course, we're always here to remind you that it is.