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Manage your Mental Energy and not your Time

For many of my clients (and certainly for myself) working from home over this pandemic, often hours upon hours on Zoom, is exhausting and certainly unsustainable. So today, I want to talk about an energy that we can all tap into, that will help us stay focused towards our goals. That energy is mental energy.

Think about yourself for a moment. Do you feel that you have the mental energy to stay focused and on track throughout your entire week, and the next week and so on? Or do you find that your focus waxes and wanes, maybe succumbing to the countless distractions, such as a ping from a new e-mail, a phone ringing or a request from a colleague etc?

Fundamental to tapping into mental energy is having clear goals and deliberately targeting those activities that will give you the biggest and best return on your time. It is about saying ‘no’ to the meetings, requests and interruptions that will take us off course and that will drain our energy and being very intentional over which few distractions you will accept, ignoring all others in pursuit of these goals.

The chances are if you value the importance of planning, if you are clear on your priorities and you organise your time accordingly, and if you are successful in ignoring any distractions and saying ‘no’ to the less important things, then you will be enjoying a steady flow of mental energy, allowing you to perform at your best.

For many of us however this type of energy comes in fits and starts. We have times when we seem to achieve so much and our day just ‘flows’, we feel on top form, we tick off completed tasks with both ease and speed. However we also have those frustrating days when we achieve so little…and yet we were ‘busy all day’. Does this sound familiar?

The key to success is how well and how consistently you plan and prioritise your time. Right now, those focused days rarely happen by chance. They happen because you have planned it that way, you knew what you had to do and you didn’t allow yourself to become distracted. It’s the difference between being proactive and not reactive. Without a clear plan you are at the mercy of simply reacting to what you feel like doing and what situations and meetings pop up through the day.

To tap into a steady flow of mental energy, consider the following steps:

Step 1:

Your priorities change through time, so you need to regularly reassess what they are. Every week write down your top 3 business priorities. This can act like a compass, keeping you on track and not letting you become distracted.

Step 2

Based on these priorities, On a Friday afternoon, before you stop work for the weekend, plan your week ahead, by writing a ‘to do’ list. Diarise what you plan to do and when you plan to do it. This has two advantages,

  1. Come Monday you are going to know exactly what you need to focus on and achieve that week.
  2. By writing the list on the Friday afternoon, you are then free to enjoy your weekend, without being consumed of thoughts and worries about work.

As well as a plan for the week, also have a plan for your day before you get stuck into work. Remember the clearer you are, the more likely you are to stay on task, achieve more and keep stress at bay.

Step 3

Consider which distractions you will accept and which you will ignore. For example you may be expecting a particular call from an important client.  By deciding up front, you will be ready to reject the steady stream of attempted disruptions and requests and stay focused on the task.

Step 4:

Learn to say ‘no’ to the non-important tasks, go through your diary and remove all the meetings that you don’t need to go to, particularly now that those meeting mean staring at a screen for hour after hour which, in itself, is exhausting. If the meeting is essential, can it be shorter followed by a break? can it be a ‘walk and talk’ away from staring at the computer screen? Can you delegate tasks that are important, but either not to you or that are important to you, but that someone else can do?

If you would like Emma to come in and talk at an event or work with you or your teams please get in touch today.

Emma Turner

Emma is an Executive and Performance Coach, who works closely with organisations around the world to develop incredible leaders, build successful teams, retain top talent and maximise performance.

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