Americanos, Red Bull, diet sodas, caffeinated chocolate bites…there is a reason that so many of these products are a common daily consumption: our energy is finite. All too often we demand and expect more of our minds, emotional beings, and bodies than we have to give. Leaders often leave all of their energy on the field at work and have very little when they get home. Is it possible serve well in both places? Even on the same day?
On a recent trip, my phone battery was draining as I listened to music, scrolled through social media, and played a quick game of MiniMetro. When I realized I left my charging cable at home, I put the phone in airplane mode and threw it in my bag. The call to a friend when the plane landed was much more important than a few minutes of mindless entertainment. Maybe I have low-battery anxiety or perhaps a strong dose of nomophobia when that battery dies, but keeping a keen eye on the percentage of phone battery remaining seems to be part of my daily routine.
We often think about the hours we work in a week or how late we work into the evening, but what could change if we considered our daily energy like a limited battery and managed it accordingly? We have a limited amount of energy; let’s steward it well.
Join me in thinking through an average demanding day and your energy output and input emotionally, physically, mentally, etc. On that day, what gives you the most energy? What depletes your energy? What are the things that are neutral? Create a list, then consider how you can manage your schedule and responsibilities with the goal of being fully present at home, in the community, or for that late night workout?
In At Your Best, Carey Nieuwhof said, “If you don’t declare a finish line to your work, your body will.” Whether it is daily, weekly, or yearly, we need breaks to restore our energy and we have control over those finish lines. Schedule breaks in your calendar. Plan meetings that tend to drain you during times of lower productivity, and finish your day with something that brings you new energy and life that you can share with others at home. After all, I don’t have fond memories of the times my dad took a nap or worked from home, but I do remember the time and energy he stewarded for me to play catch, get outside, or eat a meal together at the end of the day. Life balance is just that; it doesn’t mean home or work must lose, it means we take control and authority over our output in order to win in both.