Mental energy management – the key to doing more

Are you the type who absolutely kills it at work, but as soon as you reach home, all you can physically manage to do is to sit on the sofa and scroll through your phone or watch TV?

Even if you know you need to start on your side hustle, or drag yourself to the gym you feel like you’re all out of juice.

The solution? Becoming better at managing your mental energy levels.

What is mental energy?

Firstly it’s important to distinguish between mental and physical energy.

If you lack mental energy you might feel like you’ve been pushed to your limit the whole day or even that you need to sleep for a year. But if you were somehow teleported into the gym, in your workout gear, chances are you can still get a decent session in.

This is because while you still have a decent amount of physical energy left, your mental energy levels are initially depleted. Making it hard for you to take action.

The low energy state can make moving your body out of the comfortable position on the sofa seem almost impossible, but once you’ve done it, it doesn’t take much mental energy to continue with whatever task you’re doing.

Conversely, if someone has completely exhausted their body physically but they still have plenty of mental energy, they’ll be able to head straight home, jump in a cold shower, make some food, start their work and whatever else they need to do without a second thought, as long as it’s not physically taxing.

So how do you become the second person? The person who accomplishes their goals and makes time for the important things after work.

Read on to find out.

How to boost your mental energy

Detach yourself from your work – You don’t need to be completely detaching yourself from your work in order to improve your mental energy, especially if you want to do well in your workplace.

However, there are a few key things you can do in order to detach yourself without affecting your performance.

For a start, you need to be able to psychologically detach from work as soon as you get home. Bringing workplace stress into your home is a recipe for disaster.

If it’s the first few months of starting a business, then I understand that you have to do what’s necessary. However, eventually you will have to be able to leave your work behind, or your mental energy will start to suffer.

Not only that but being able to detach yourself from work, once you leave, leads to higher overall productivity as well as better resilience in the face of stressful work conditions.

The other way to detach yourself from work, is during work. This doesn’t mean you should be completely detached throughout your entire day, but only when it’s right.

Whatever your line of work, there’s almost definitely tasks you do which don’t affect your job performance. For example, if you’re driving to meet a client, the five minute gap is the perfect time to detach. Don’t be worrying about how the last meeting went and how you could have done better, instead allow your self to recover mentally and enjoy the drive.

Slay a dragon everyday – Unless you’re reading this blog from Westeros, you might be wondering what the heck I’m talking about.

So when I say slay a dragon, I obviously don’t mean literally. “Slaying a dragon” is a term I use which means to do something challenging.

I understand that this can sound counter-intuitive, if you’re spending mental energy doing something difficult, then surely you’ll have less mental energy after?

To your brain, however, it recognises that you’ve managed to complete a task that you thought was difficult. Not only does this put you in a higher mental energy state, but it allows you to take on the day thinking “If I’ve done this, what can’t I do?”

Slaying a dragon doesn’t have to be something intense, just something you find challenging. My dragon? An ice cold shower every morning.

Meditate – Not only does meditation help to reduce stress and anxiety, but it also promotes emotional intelligence. If you truly want to combat low energy, you need to know yourself, and your emotions well. Meditation is the best way to do this.

If you’ve never done meditation before or don’t know how to, the headspace app is a great place to start, with an free trial you should definitely check out. There are also some great youtube videos on the topic, so you really have no excuse not to start.

Practise emotional intelligence – meditation brings us onto our next tip, emotional intelligence. Being able to be aware of and control your emotions effectively is the key to avoiding low energy emotional states.

The trouble is when you talk about emotional intelligence, people don’t really know what it is? Is it knowing what other people are feeling? or is it knowing how you’re feeling?

Emotional intelligence is actually a combination of the two, it starts with understanding yourself, your emotions and feelings. This often helps people to understand how others are feeling as well. In short, it’s ones ability to process emotions.

This is why meditation is an important part of emotional intelligence, as it allows you to understand your emotions and thoughts.

If you want to start improving your emotional intelligence, this blog post by Mark Manson is a great place to start:

Have fun! – This final tip may seem a bit obvious but trust me, there are a lot of ambitious hardworking people out there who don’t know how to do this.

Almost everyone knows that at the end of the day, you need to wind down, and do something apart from working. The problem is, not everyone knows how to do this.

They think that scrolling through your phone or watching TV is a good way to do this because they’re not working. The problem with this is, you’re not going to properly relax your brain, as your phone or TV drives your focus towards it.

In order to properly relax you need to be doing something that doesn’t do this and helps you to enjoy yourself. Good examples include spending time with loved ones, playing sports, having an alcoholic drink (having one small drink a day is fine as long as you don’t overdo it) or going for a walk.

Finally, if you think this advice is too much relaxation and not enough work, that’s fair. It’s all about you.

Not everyone can find time after work to play a game of football. Especially if you’re reading this trying to increase your productivity after work.

But the whole point of this post is to tell you that it’s all about balance. Sometimes to do more, you actually need to do less.

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