Even the best jobs have their good days and bad and can sometimes become tedious. Keeping your energy level up is about more than getting a good night’s sleep and smart fueling at breakfast. It comes from your internal attitudes as well as from the people around you. Take a preemptive strike against burnout with these ideas to enjoy high-energy and enthusiasm each day…
BOOSTING YOUR ENERGY LEVEL
Energy is not the same as motivation. You might be motivated to tackle a project, but you need both physical and emotional energy to achieve success. Here’s how…
Connect with your purpose. Just as you can view a glass as half full or half empty, so too can you look at your work. Tune into your true purpose and you may see your work in a new light. Doing this is called “cognitive reframing”—and it’s the way to see the greater good in what you do. Consider the story of three bricklayers laboring on a cathedral in Milan. When visitors to the site asked them what they were doing, the first one replied, “I’m laying brick,” the second one replied, “I’m laying brick,” but the third one said, “I’m building a cathedral.” See your own work in broader terms. You’re not just a financial adviser, you’re changing the quality of retirement for clients…you’re not only a nurse, you’re saving lives.
Stay challenged. Don’t let yourself become complacent in your job. Volunteer for a new project…take a night class to learn a new skill…reach out to someone in a different department. As you broaden your horizons, you may find a new goal or skill that appeals to you. And taking on challenges will energize you and bring you a new source of satisfaction. Remember, the more energy you have, the more likely you are to get noticed and even promoted.
Focus your attention on the task at hand. Do you pride yourself on your ability to multitask? You actually might be draining your energy! Instead, try using your calendar to allot separate chunks of time to each key task. Some may get only 15 minutes, others two hours, but while you’re doing each one, don’t let your focus wander to other things, including the relentless checking of e-mails—a drain and a distraction. In fact, a study done at University of Vancouver found that checking just three times a day reduced stress and increased well-being compared with people who checked without limits. A study done at Duke and Georgetown universities on checking cell-phone alerts found similar results.
Adjust your workflow. Energy ebbs and flows throughout the day, but whether you’re an early riser or a night owl, you likely have more energy at certain times rather than others. Being aware of your unique daily rhythms can help you time high-priority tasks. Rank each day’s objectives by importance—working on a project with a tight deadline might be at the top, while making follow-up calls could be at the bottom—and schedule them accordingly. Try to match your most pressing and important work to your high-energy hours. Leave less difficult chores such as doing an expense report for lower- energy times.
Take meditation breaks. Yes, getting up from your office chair to take a walk is a great energizer, but a five-minute meditation break right at your desk also can clear your mind for the next task and elevate your emotional energy. It can be especially helpful before a meeting, creating positive energy to share. At first you may think that there’s no place for meditation at work, but it’s actually the perfect antidote when you’re in a high-stress environment. Simply find a quiet space, close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing for those few minutes. You’ll feel better and be more productive.
Rebalance your tasks. Let’s face it—some parts of your job are especially exciting to you while others can be a drag. Consider “job crafting,” changing some aspects of your job to make it more rewarding. Write out a list of the tasks that energize you and a list of the ones that don’t…then look for ways to do more of the ones you like. See if you can team up with a coworker with complementary strengths—he or she might welcome the opportunity to take on some of the tasks you’d like to off-load and vice versa. For instance, if you love researching but don’t like translating information to PowerPoint presentations, seek out someone who’s a formatting pro. If he/she isn’t a fan of public speaking, offer to give the presentations he creates.
Engage with coworkers who energize you. In every workplace, there are energy makers—people who share your enthusiasm, look for new ideas and solutions to problems and boost your spirits—and there are energy drainers—people whose negative or even ho-hum attitudes or incessant complaints can suck the energy right out of you whenever you’re in contact with them. Go out of your way to partner on projects with energizers…seek out their opinions when you’re looking for ideas or feedback…ask them to join you for a walk when you take breaks so that you can be energized by the camaraderie. You also might look for a mentor—someone in your organization who you can learn from—who’s energizing and who encourages you to challenge yourself.
Of course, it’s almost impossible to completely avoid people who sap your energy, but you can counter a negative experience with a positive one. Immediately after a bad interaction, return to a project you’re particularly enthusiastic about or engage with someone on the team who moves it forward.
EXTENDING YOUR ENERGY TO THE TEAM
You’ll have even more energy if more of the people you work with are energized, too. This happens when you all share an inspiring vision, make progress toward goals and have high-quality connections with one another. While managers usually do the most to energize a workplace, you don’t have to be the boss to effect change. Most higher-ups and team leaders are open to creative suggestions that benefit the group. The problem is that many people are too shy to speak up and offer them. Here are actions you can take to create better connections, no matter where you are on the corporate ladder.
Engage coworkers with respect. Each person at a company brings value and deserves the chance to express his ideas. People become de-energized when they don’t feel appreciated. There are simple ways to show coworkers respect, such as putting down your cell phone during conversations and giving them your full attention…or making sure that each person in a meeting has a chance to voice an opinion. And don’t underestimate the power of a simple thank-you e-mail for a job well- done.
Help others excel without worrying about payback. This is called task enabling and means that if asked, you offer feedback and brainstorming to help your coworkers be successful without expecting anything in return. It sounds like it should be a given in every workplace, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking, What’s in it for me? before you act.
Get social. Find ways to inject fun into the workday—yes, those birthday celebrations do build energy in companies. An easy activity to suggest within your immediate department is a monthly potluck lunch. Each person brings in a dish, and everyone eats and chats for a half hour. This doesn’t take any more time than lunch normally would, but you’re using that time to engage with people in a more casual way, allowing people to get to know one another beyond the day-to-day work tasks.