Personal Energy Audit: 5 Emotional Factors
If you want to improve your time management and productivity, start by boosting your energy levels. The healthier your energy levels are, the more you will get from your time.
In this post, I’m going to introduce the first part of a personal energy audit, looking at five areas that can impact the emotional side of your energy. The second part of the audit examines physical factors such as diet and sleep.
The audit is taken from the personal leadership section of Collaborative Project Management: A Handbook, which you can download for free as a PDF copy here.
Emotional Factor No. 1: Career and Work Choices
Are you happy with the career and work choices that you have made?
Some people say to me, ‘Eamonn, work is not that important.’ I am afraid that I cannot agree.
You work from pretty much nine am to five or six pm each day, and many of us probably longer. You do this from Monday to Friday and possibly weekends. You do this for roughly forty-eight weeks of the year. Some people sadly more. You are giving the best hours, the best days, the best weeks and the best years of your life to work. You have no better time to give.
It is madness not to be happy at work. If this is the situation you are in, then you should do something about it. Change the work you are doing in your current job, change jobs, or change career. This may take time – but invest this time.
If you are happy in your career and you are happy with your work choices, what are you doing to invest in your career? What are you doing to make the most of it? What is your career investment plan, and how are you fitting this into your time management approach? A searching question!
Emotional Factor No. 2: Negative Emotions
Do you have a coping mechanism to deal with strong negative emotions?
For a lot of people, strong negative emotions are more regular than they desire due to their personal situation, their work situation and sometimes their personality.
In some cases, fear, anxiety, stress are often necessary to help us move to where we need to be.
What is your approach to dealing with strong negative emotions?
On the one hand, if we let these strong, negative emotions fester, they sap all our energy and we will not be able to deal with the real situation at hand.
On the other hand, if we acknowledge the strong negative emotion, we can then apply our energy to doing something rather than wallowing in the stress and anxiety. I know this is hard, but if we can do this, then we are on the right path.
Some emotions can be so overpowering for us that any rational thought process is unlikely. One way to deal with the immediate effect of such strong negative emotions can be to seek a positive distraction. This can be music for some people. Or maybe keep a list of internet sites that give you positive and healthy energy and go visit them. Perhaps you can find some motivational talks on the internet and save a list and return to them for inspiration from time to time. I myself love music – a great mood changer.
Emotional Factor No. 3: Gratitude and Reflection
Do you take time out to practice gratitude and reflection?
What you do can be very simple. Some people will achieve this with meditation and other people have similar practices. Are you doing something like this?
Here are three simple steps to start this practice:
- Start this process by expressing gratitude for at least one good thing in your day so far – and savor the good feeling of this positive memory.
- Reflect on how the day has proceeded so far, the good and the bad, by rummaging through the day, hour by hour or activity by activity since you got up. As you remember each item, you might move on quickly or you might reflect on some more carefully. Maybe you are happy with how you managed each situation and maybe not. Perhaps with the benefit of hindsight, you could have handled some of the situations better. But you reflect on each item that comes to mind.
- Decide how you want the rest of the day to proceed, mindful of what you are grateful for and what you learned from looking back on today so far.
With this kind of practice, you get the benefits of more energy that can then be brought to the precious time that you have.
Emotional Factor No. 4: Relationships
Do you spend enough time with family and friends in nurturing relationships? Do you have a shoulder you can cry on? Are you a shoulder your friends can cry on? Do you have someone you can talk to? Do you have someone to share your frustrations and joys with?
As humans, there are some things we do really need to talk out. Often we are thinking things in our head and when we say them out loud to another person we have figured, ‘Oh, that is not what it is at all.’ The very act of verbalizing our thoughts is often instructive.
As you are thinking this through – let me ask the opposite question – “are there people in your life that sap your energy – that make you feel down?” You need to be careful to avoid these people if at all possible or if not to have a coping mechanism.
Emotional Factor No. 5: It is Not All about You!
Are there times in your day, week, month, year when you give to others without counting the cost? Where you look after folks that need your help? Are you giving of yourself to others?
Perhaps right now is not the time in your life when you can do this outside of work. Maybe you have young children or a sick relative and every spare second needs to go into them. Don’t worry about it if you cannot do an excessive amount of giving time to others outside of work.
Maybe there are folks at work and you can help them when they are not expecting it. If you are helpful to others, you will typically get their gratitude in return and most likely feel better as a result.
 This simple 3-step practice is an adaptation of the Examen as introduced by Ignatius of Loyola in his landmark book, ‘The Spiritual Exercises’, from 1548.
Editor’s Note: This article is an excerpt from our free book, Collaborative Project Management: A Handbook.