Experiencing a burst of energy and a period of high production is common when starting a new task or project. Whether it’s the excitement of a new job or the fresh motivation that is sparked by signing up at the gym, at the outset, it’s often easier to propel your efforts forward. However, success at work and in life isn’t gauged on how strong you start, but how you manage to sustain that strength over time. Here are four strategies to cultivate enduring energy according to time management expert Elizabeth Grace Saunders.
Set upper and lower boundaries
Anyone can set a goal, but not everyone will take the time to write out the steps required for them to achieve that goal. Even fewer people will outline what their upper and lower boundaries are for each goal.
What are upper and lower boundaries? These define both how much and how little of an action you will do in a day or a week to reach the goals you’ve made. For instance, if you want to write a book, then you may tell yourself that your lower boundary is a minimum of 30 minutes of writing per day, but you will refrain from writing for no more than three hours per day to avoid burnout.
This strategy can extend to any project you want to accomplish. For example, if you want to start exercising regularly, you can set your lower boundary to three sessions at the gym per week, and your upper boundary to five sessions. The flexibility of these boundaries allows for a bit of wiggle room. In case you find yourself needing to prioritize other things such as spending time with family, you can stay closer to the lower boundary but avoid feeling as though you’ve “stopped” and need to put forth the extra effort to get the ball rolling again.
Understand your tendency
To maintain your energy levels, it’s important to understand how your personal energy levels fluctuate.
Perhaps you tend to throw yourself into high gear and attempt to stay there until you inevitably burn out. In this case, you must remind yourself that you are not a machine. Give yourself permission to rest and make sure you don’t go over your upper boundary.
You might be more of a low-drive level person who coasts until forced into a mad rush at the last minute. For people who identify with this, then you should be strict with yourself and ensure that you’re at least hitting your lower boundary before taking downtime.
Schedule rest and recovery
Human beings have evolved to function best with cycles of activity and rest. This is why getting a good night’s sleep and allowing yourself relaxing weekends is crucial for maximizing your performance. If you’re a high-drive type of person, then you’ll have to make sure that you carve out time in your schedule for rest and recovery. This may mean allowing yourself to sleep in twice a week or purposefully spending evenings connecting with friends and family without a time limit.
If you’re more of a low-drive individual, then make sure to not reward yourself with undeserved rest and recovery. Make sure you reach your lower boundary at the very least so that you keep your progress levels steady.
Give yourself breathing room
Working at a sustainable pace will help you complete projects well in the long run and will also allow you to reach a better balance in your personal life. Forcing yourself to replenish your energy stores by limiting the time that you work will help you focus on other, non-work-related things without guilt, precisely because you understand that rest will actually support productivity.