Three “Energize-Rs” of Time Management – Rhythms, Rituals, and Routines
Energy is powerful. Energy is also subtle. We feel it, but we can’t always measure it easily. Personal energy management focuses on you and the inner resources available to you to accomplish whatever you need to do. Your energy levels correlate with what you do and most importantly, how you feel about it. When you choose to be present and create meaning and value for your actions, the distractions disappear and you enter the state of complete engagement, “being in the zone,” or “flow.” It is a very joyful state when you are completely immersed in the experience and don’t want to get distracted. This is the high energy and high vibration state. Imagine what it feels like to be so absorbed by the task that nothing else matters. Picture the power of the focused energy and how it could transform your days. It takes practice to be present but it can be done with any activity, no matter what it is and how mundane it may seem. Paying attention to the changes in your energy patterns throughout the day is a first step towards bringing more energy into your life. You can do it with the help of the three “energize-Rs”: Rhythms, Rituals, and Routines.
Most things we do in life have a rhythm. Our hearts pump blood through our bodies rhythmically. We breathe, walk, talk in a rhythmic fashion. If you were to design your ideal day, what kind of rhythm would it have? The following questions may help you discover your natural rhythm:
- What kind of flow does your typical day have? Do you feel rushed all the time? Are you exhausted by the end of the day? How often do you feel bored? Does time fly by or does it drag?
- What times of the day are you at your best? When is it easier for you to stay focused?
- When is your energy at its lowest? When do you usually feel like you need to take a nap?
- Do you first complete the easy tasks or the difficult ones? Why?
- Do you like to work on one project for a long time period or do you switch between projects and tasks to get more variety into your day?
- How often do you take breaks when you work or study?
A ritual is a set of actions that has a special symbolic meaning. I am talking here mostly about personal rituals that you can devise and perform just for yourself. Rituals give a signal to your brain to prepare for something, shift focus, or recharge, depending on the meaning and purpose of your ritual. For instance, you may have a ritual to start your day on a good note. Here are some examples of rituals and their possible purposes:
- Reading an inspirational story or listening to a motivational podcast in the morning to get yourself excited about the day.
- Meditating for 15 minutes to quiet your mind before a challenging task.
- Taking a brisk walk when you feel stuck and want to recharge.
- Doing a visualization exercise to calm your mind before an important presentation. Try this, for example: close your eyes and imagine that you are near the ocean. As you are walking by the shore, bare feet on the white sand, you feel the softness and warmth of the sand. And with each step you take, your worries and anxieties just dissipate into the sand. You feel peaceful and relaxed.
Rituals can give you a sense of security and control in a challenging situation. If you have a recurrent challenge in your day, try devising a ritual for it. What energizing rituals do you have?
Routines can give a healthy rhythm to your day, support its natural flow and give you enough energy for all the things you need to do. Once you determine your natural energy peaks and lows throughout the day, start grouping and ordering your tasks and activities around those time periods. It may require some experimenting before you come up with your optimal day structure. For example, you may discover that you can focus better and be more productive in the morning if you I stop checking your email the first thing after you turn on your computer. As you create your routines, consider the following questions:
- What tasks should you be doing when your energy is high?
- Which activities do you reserve for your low points?
- If you like variety, how can you break up your projects to stay motivated and efficient at the same time?
- How should you order your activities to process information faster and remember and use it better?
- How can you ensure uninterrupted time for the tasks that require concentration?
- How well is your work or study schedule coordinated with the rest of your daily routines?
- How can you safeguard your well-being and meet the essential needs for a healthy diet, sleep, and exercise? Too often, people sacrifice those needs only to discover too late that their immune system is compromised, they feel run down, or they are just simply unhappy.
Once you’ve planned your day, make sure you protect your routines. It may require setting some boundaries with people and making a few unpopular decisions, but ultimately, you may discover that you are more productive, energized and enthusiastic about your life. And learning to live well is no small accomplishment!
Anastasia Pryanikova, M.A., J.D. is a wellness coach, author, and learning catalyst. She is the founder and principal of E-Studio, LLC, a company devoted to helping busy professionals build healthier life and work habits. If you liked this article, you’ll love Anastasia’s interactive and dynamic coaching programs that will empower your mind through awareness, reflection, insights, accelerated learning, and consistent action. You can learn more at http://www.selfhelpbookmuse.com
Anastasia also publishes Lawsagna blog, which offers “alternating layers of thoughts, tips, tricks, and other ingredients to live and learn well in law and beyond.” Please visit it at http://www.lawsagna.com