5 Unexpected Signs You're Draining Your Own Energy
Sign 4: Your ability to crush it—non-stop.
Every day, you zoom into work, plant yourself at your desk and power through! You work eight hours straight—no breaks for lunch, coffee or even a walk. By doing this, you get everything done and can leave right at 5 p.m. (Stay-at-homers, you do this, too—for longer! You power through 10 hours: laundry, check; music class, check; shopping; check; march, march, march until 7 p.m.).
How this drains you: You're not giving your body time to rest. This causes you to be less productive and resourceful, meaning that you get less back from every hour you put in.
How to fix it: "Work in 90-minute blocks," says Tony Schwartz, energy-management consultant and author of Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys To Transforming the Way We Work and Live, who says that our natural daytime rhythms are made up of more-wakeful periods, followed by those that are less wakeful, during which our bodies rest and restore energy. At the end of a 90-minute block, advises Schwartz, stop, eat a meal, exercise or just rest. Then go back and do another block. "No one works at peak performance for more than four-and-a-half hours per day," he says. "You can work more than that—but gradually, you're working at less and less and less of a peak level until eventually, you're losing energy and working more."
Sign 5: Your efficient use of time.
There are two ways home. The long way adds 20 minutes to your drive, through a forest. The shortcut takes you through grimy industrial wasteland—full of factories and highways. You take the shortcut. It gets you home faster, which means more time with your husband and kids—and a few minutes scanning Facebook on your tablet before dinner.
How this drains you: You're saving time, yes. But robbing yourself of environmental happiness, robs you of energy.
How to fix it: Consider the heart surgeon profiled in Clawson and Newburg's Powered by Feel. The surgeon had two routes to his operating room. One took him through a dark hallway filled with empty boxes. The other, more time-consuming route took him through the main area of the hospital where he passed windows, plants and co-workers. The latter gave him energy, the former did not. If he were your heart doctor (i.e., the man opening your chest) ask yourself which route you'd rather him take before he operated on you: Fast and discouraging or slow and uplifting? Now slap this question on your own life. How can you be your best for the people you love? Going a little slow may be the quickest route to walking through that door and being calm and kind with everybody—even if dinner is boiling over and nobody let the dog out, by the look of the hallway rug.