The #1 Drain on Your Energy

It’s the holiday season and many are feeling overwhelmed with tasks, gatherings, and other commitments.  Some may feel zapped of energy and perhaps even burned out.  Are the holidays to blame? This YouTube video reveals the answer by identifying the number one drain on our energy.

I’d like to identify some criteria for determining if something is a drain on your energy.

The task, project, or activity does not align with your personal core values. Do you know what your core values are? Perhaps you want to take some time to evaluate your values, priorities, and vision to help you gain clarity and direction. Once you know your core values, make sure that all of your activities align with those values. If they don’t, then reconsider them.

The activity does not feed your soul. There is such a thing as soul food, and that’s doing things that truly give you joy. For some people, it’s as simple as doing something that gave them joy as a child, such as riding a bike, building sand castles, or painting. Figure out exactly what makes you feel happy, and gear your activities to that.

The activity does not allow you to feel like you are making a meaningful contribution. Stimulation and challenge are what make us feel accomplished, and thus, give us energy. Signing papers, filing, and paying bills is a responsibility, but make sure that you don’t spend an entire day doing these kinds of mundane tasks.  Find at least one project or activity that you can do to contribute meaningfully each day.  This will help to stimulate your brain, make you feel good, AND increase your energy.

The activity does not help you to be more productive and efficient. Are you feeling stuck? Do you start tasks and get easily distracted? If you are struggling to get focused on a task, simply eliminate some of the distractions around you. If you are working on a computer and are tempted to look at Facebook or other websites, try disconnecting your Internet connection for a short time. You’ll eliminate the distraction and get back on task quickly.

The activity is a repetitious time waster. There are tedious tasks that must be completed; however you need to decide if this activity is worth YOUR energy or if you can delegate it so you can focus on what you do best. This is similar to making meaningful contributions mentioned above.  If there are minor tasks, such as researching phone numbers, paying bills, or editing correspondence, delegating those will enable you to move on to more energizing tasks.

The activity takes you away from what is truly important to you. Can activities of little importance be outsourced? Do they actually need to be done? Take time to answer these questions, and be honest with yourself about the answers.

The activity makes you feel tired and dull. These activities are a drain.  Whatever you find to be mundane activities will drain your energy levels quickly because you likely aren’t stimulating your brain and feel like you could be doing something else. See if there is a way to delegate these tasks or deal with them in short segments.

The activity is highly frustrating and/or stressful. These activities are likely going to end up falling into the meaningful contribution later, but right now they are frustrating and stressful. Take a break, do some of the mundane tasks and let your brain rest, or go to lunch. The time you take away from the task will help to clear your head and allow you to refocus on the task at hand.

The activity does not use your best talents and skills. Unquestionably, these are the tasks and activities to delegate.  Hopefully, you’ve surrounded yourself with a great team and each member of that team has a different set of skills. Find the person who excels at these tasks and make it his/her responsibility. This will free up your time and also allow that other person to feel useful.

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