Yesterday, I shared 3 tips to find and maintain your focus, even when you feel fatigued. Today I’m sharing 4 more tips to help you plug energy leaks and boost your productivity.
(1) Eliminate Decisions
Energy is contagious. The energy you spend in one place impacts every other area.
Have you ever noticed that when you’re wrestling with a big decision it impacts every area of your life? Decisions are a huge energy drain because they take up cognitive energy. We make thousands of tiny decisions each day. Big life decisions — especially around the core areas of home, career, and relationship — also use a lot of emotional energy.
Before I started my Fitness First ritual several years ago, I would often fall into the trap where I would wake up and feel tired. Then I would play the “should I exercise or rest?” game.
That game is enough of an energy drain on its own. But it got worse: if I didn’t exercise, I spent the rest of the day playing mental chess with my schedule, trying to figure out when I could fit in my workout “later.” Here’s what I’ve learned about “later” — it never comes.
And running that process in the background drained me of energy I needed to be productive and focused. I’m exhausted just thinking about those days.
Now, I put fitness first no matter what. Even if I wake up exhausted, there’s no decision to make. I get out the door and move my body.
You can apply this to any area of your life, including your work (work is a part of life, not separate from it), by creating and applying systems. Whether it’s a complex workflow or a simple checklist, having a system eliminates the need to decide what to do next.
When you eliminate energy drains you free up that energy to be more productive. Make sure you’re not wasting energy on unnecessary decisions.
(2) Be Lazy
I realize that doing anything when you feel tired already feels like the opposite of laziness. Here’s what I mean: don’t do more than you need to do.
Some of us try to do too much. We are over-givers and over-preparers, and often perfectionists. Use your fatigue as an opportunity to practice doing only what you need to do and not more. Embrace minimal effort.
My trampoline coach constantly reminds me to “let the trampoline do the work” to drive me back up into the air. The concept is to get back the energy that I put into the trampoline. When I do that, I get more airtime. This makes it easier to execute my skills with less effort.
Sounds like a dream, right?
When I’m feeling tired, I am forced to allow the trampoline to do more of the work. As a result, I actually make more progress on my skills.
When it comes to your work, invest your energy in building systems and structures that will be able to support you. Then allow yourself to receive that support. Train your team well and create solid systems, then step back from micromanaging everyone. Create ways of delivering value that are scaleable. Learn to go with good enough.
(3) Play Full-Out
When you’re fatigued, it’s often wise to cut out some activities or tasks. You need to know your limits. But whatever you decide to do, do it fully.
Harness the focus and energy you do have to execute at 100% effort. This may mean that you do fewer reps or you work at a lower intensity, and that’s ok. But don’t half-ass it.
In a physical activity, doing something half-assed exposes you to the risk of injury. In your creative and intellectual work, it makes you look sloppy and unskilled. This can cost you business opportunities or damage your reputation.
On the positive side, when you can execute well even at a depleted capacity, you gain confidence in your ability. You know you will execute even better when you’re at full capacity.
When you commit to doing something in your work or any part of your life, show up fully. Don’t use your fatigue as an excuse for why you delivered substandard work. If you can’t give it 100% of what you have, or if you know that 100% of what you have isn’t enough to do it safely or well, then don’t do it at all.
Be all in or all out. Don’t straddle the line.
(4) Get Constructive Rest
When you’re feeling fatigued, it’s important to rest. Obviously, good sleep habits are important, but sleep is only one part of the equation. You might get sufficient sleep and still feel exhausted.
In our 24/7 culture, we often don’t get constructive rest — the type of rest that restores and replenishes our energy levels. Many of the things that we think are rest actually deplete us further.
- laying on the couch scrolling social media
- pretty much anything in front of a screen, including watching movies and television
- listening to music or podcasts
- reading books (even physical books)
All of these activities use our brain. Constructive rest is about resting your brain.
Developing rituals that help you replenish your mental, emotional, and spiritual energy will help you find focus even when you feel physically fatigued.
Share: Which of These is Your Biggest Challenge?
All of these tips are easy enough to apply, in theory, but many of us resist them. There are many reasons why we find these tips difficult to implement.
Which tip feels most challenging for you to implement? Please share with me in the comments.
The Ritual Revolution is a movement I started to help creative entrepreneurs and agents of change create sustainable practices. Maintain your focus amidst chaos. Join the tribe for more wisdom on how to serve without self-sacrifice.