Posts Tagged ‘energy management’|
Monday, June 21st, 2010
The Energy Management blog this week is for the G in ENERGY that stands for Goals and Planning. I think because we are all so busy it is imperative that we are planning not only our time but more importantly our priorities.
Life as we know can get so crazy that unless you actually schedule something to occur it is unlikely it will ever get done. I have found since the birth of my son, Nicholas, it has been even more difficult to get things done. I used to get discouraged because I had many ideas or plans that just never seemed to get off the ground. There was never enough time to take action on these ideas and I was always looking for big chunks of time to work on them. I am here to tell you that the big chunks of time almost never materialize. The dreams I had for myself were always being put to the back burner because of more urgent matters that were sometimes dictated by what others wanted.
A big part of managing our energy is getting clear on what is really important for us. We talked before about embracing our values and making sure we are living a life congruent with these values. A big part of the goal setting and planning is to make sure that what we plan fits in with what we truly want for ourselves. A great way to do this is to write a personal philosophy statement.
Robin Sharma discusses this concept in much of his work (such as The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari and Discover Your Destiny with the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari). I also recently heard him talk about the “Big 5”. These are the 5 things you would want to have happen before you die so that you could be truly happy with your life and your accomplishments. I think all of us could benefit from thinking deeply about such questions. What are your big 5?
Another practice that has done so much to move my life to the next level is the weekly planning session. Over the last number of years I have had a ritual that every Sunday night I take 1 hour and plan my upcoming week. I break it down into all my businesses and all the other areas of my life such as financial, fitness, relationships. For each I put an ultimate goal on the top of a blank sheet of paper. Such as to be the most amazing eye surgeon and impact the lives of my patients dramatically… Then I write what I need to do that week to bring me closer to that goal. Maybe it is to email someone, maybe to have a staff meeting, maybe to research a technique for surgery etc…. whatever it is I write it down and then schedule it in Outlook.
Then I get small incremental progress in every area and every business every week. Even if it is only one thing in a given category of my life, as long as things are moving forward and improving I will not stress. I am doing what I can, when I can and enjoying the journey on the way. This also gets me by the mental block of always looking for a big chunk of time to do something. This way I am doing small things in shorter spans of time in a number of areas consistently. It is amazing how this can impact your life over time. You can also review what you have done the previous week and take time to correct any area that you have neglected. Maybe you did all your workouts and achieved some key goals for your business but you did not spend enough time with your family or connect with your kids. You can make sure that this week you do those things. By seeing the positive results this planning can bring you will be energized and able to accomplish more than you ever thought possible.
Take out a number of blank sheets of paper and at the top write Week of June 20th to the 27th. Then think of the different areas of importance in your life and your ultimate goals in each area.
- Fitness (eg… I am x lbs, x % body fat and in the best shape of my life)
- Family and Friends (eg… I am the best mother, wife etc… possible)
- Finances (eg… I have a net worth of ….)
- Personal development
- Business (I have sheets for each of my businesses so they are all moving forward)
Then think of 2-5 things in each category that you could do this week to move this part of your life forward. Is it to go to your son’s ball game (schedule it in). Is it to get to the gym 4 times this week (schedule it in). Is it to send a letter to a contact (schedule it in). Is it to read a book (schedule it in). This act of becoming clear on what you want in each area and then setting focused goals to achieve it is life altering and energizing. Let me know how this practice works for you. I think you will find at the end of the week you will be energized by the amount you have accomplished.
Monday, June 14th, 2010
This week’s blog in the Energy management series will deal with the R in ENERGY which represents the 4R’s we must strive to balance in our lives.
The 4R’s are
Although I am not certain striving for “balance” in life should be our ultimate goal. I am certain that I am happiest and have the greatest amount of energy when my time in these four areas in life is somewhat balanced.
Routine encompasses all of the regular things we do day to day to function. From brushing our teeth, to paying the bills, to buying groceries, to driving the carpool, taking our children to their many activities, to answering email, to returning phone calls, to cooking, to cleaning, to showering, to filing etc… etc…
These routine “To do’s” can be all encompassing. If we are not careful they can take up our entire lives. It always seems like the more we do, the more there is to do. It is a never ending cycle. If we are not careful, we could spend all of our time in routine and never really get to live.
The statement “I have too much to do” has become the rallying cry of a generation of women as we balance career, motherhood and life. I have actually heard people brag about having too much to do and never having any time for themselves.
I was in the supermarket line up last week and the two ladies behind me were going on and on… “I’m so busy,” says the one, “I have to get Jack to soccer school and Emily to dance and I feel like a taxi driver with no time for myself.” Her girlfriend replies, “You think that’s busy, the other day I had to do this …and this and this” and on and on it goes…..
The competition ensues about who has more routine crap to do. It’s odd that some of us think that rushing around like a mad women and having no time to enjoy our lives or really be in the moment is some sort of a badge of honor. It’s like bragging that you never eat vegetables and haven’t used your vacation time in 5 years. It’s crazy. We can address this by making sure that all of our time is not spent in the routine. And by trying when we are in the routine to live in that moment and really embrace and enjoy it as much as possible.
A recent longevity study revealed that people with a number of close friendships live on average 7-8 years longer than those that don’t maintain the strong social connections. Finding time to nurture our relationships with our children, our siblings, our friends, our parents and our significant others will enrich our lives. Spending time with people we truly care for that support and honor us will increase our energy levels. Women tend to embrace their relationships with other women and these connections can often be mutually enlightening and energizing. Make sure you make time for these important connections.
Reaching is striving to be more. Growing and developing. Reaching is making an effort to step out of our comfort zone. This often involves confronting our fears. Never forget that on the other side of our greatest fears we will find our growth. We often have deep desires and dreams that never see the light of day because of our fears of pursuing them (You can download a free report on overcoming your fears by signing up for my newsletter). I had a number of fears when I was growing up and I used to carry around in my pocket, purse or wallet a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt that said,
“You gain strength, courage and confidence with every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face. You must do that which you think you cannot do.”
Every time I was truly afraid I would pull this out unfold it and read it to myself. Ask yourself honestly when was the last time you did something for the first time? Then reach beyond your comfort zone and go for it. Reach for your true potential.
The last R is Rejuvenation. Rejuvenating is spending time on yourself to restore your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing. Often, we as women, never take the time to look after ourselves. It is the old oxygen in the airplane story. When the oxygen mask comes down you should put your mask on before trying to assist others. You cannot help others if you can’t breathe due to lack of oxygen. Well you can’t help others if you can’t function due to lack of energy. Take some time for you.
Another good rejuvenation ritual is something I call my authentic 30. It is 30 minutes every morning to myself to meditate, do my morning pages (a great book by Julia Cameron called the Artist’s Way recommended just writing something called the morning pages when you awake every morning to release your creativity and passion), stretch, review my goals and plan my day. It has become a ritual I do prior to my workout. It helps me be grounded and focused for my day before it gets too busy.
You should try to spend some time in each of these areas of your life, Routine, Relationships, Reaching and Rejuvenating. Doing so will insure you are replenishing your energy reserves to meet the demands of a busy life. Try the action steps below to help you with this practice.
Action Steps for the 4Rs
- Do an inventory of the last month of your life. Did you spend time in all 4 of the R’s- Routine, Relationships, Reaching and Rejuvenation. If not why not? And what can you do to make sure you spend time in all these areas next month.
- Try waking 30 minutes earlier every day for the next month to spend 30 minutes to yourself. Connect with yourself, review your goals, plan your day.
Monday, June 7th, 2010
The second E in the energy acronym is for Embracing Your Values.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit” Aristotle
Make sure you are living a life you love and not a life that others would love you to live. Living a life that is consistent with what is truly important to you will lead to greater levels of energy. The most successful people in life always consider any request or commitment of their time and measure it against their values.
The first step is to get in touch with what you truly value. For many of us we race through life so busy that time to stop and contemplate what you truly value is difficult to fit in to the “To do’s”. Yet it is so important because ultimately you become what you value.
Determining Your Values
There were a couple of exercises that I found incredibly helpful in determining my values. I found it the easiest to pinpoint my top ten values by looking a long list of potential values and circling what resonated with me and then narrowing them down to my priorities. See this exercise in the action steps below. The other great way to determine your values is to answer the following four questions
- Jump to the end of your life. What are the 3 most important lessons you have learned and why are they so critical?
- Think of someone you deeply respect. Describe 3 qualities that you admire.
- Who are you when you are at your best?
- What one sentence inscription would you like to see on your tombstone?
Are Your Activities in Line with Your Values?
Now once you are truly in touch with what you value you must weigh the activities in each of your days against how in line they are with your values. I recently read an excellent book called Be Great by Peter Thomas (One of my Top 10 Business Books). The main theme of the book is that an extraordinary life is achieved by doing what matters and living a life that honors your values. I think recognizing what is important in life and ensuring that your daily activities are aligned with your values in critical.
Sometimes our lives will align with some values and not others. I recently had this experience in the year following the birth of my son Nicholas. I realized that my neglect in aligning with a couple of my key values was part of the reason that my energy levels plummeted. My key values are integrity, compassion, contribution, family, health and fitness, abundance, wisdom, mastery, happiness and serenity. Now some of my values were front and centre during that year such as family and compassion but some got put to the back burner such as health and fitness.
They say having a baby is life altering. And it is but I think the most challenging aspect for me was how tired I was. And the big issue was that some of my activities did not honor my value of health and fitness. I wanted to be the most amazing mom for Nicholas but I often felt sore and tired. I was not finding time to work out and (after I finished breastfeeding) I was eating too much fast food.
My mom who was such a huge help to me is the biggest coupon clipper on the planet and she would call every other day and say “I have 2 can dine for $8.99 at the KFC” or “we can get two for one Big Macs.” I’m embarrassed to admit it but it was just easier to get fast food and I fell into the trap of eating crap because it was quick and I was tired. This went on for a few months.
The turning point was one afternoon when I went down to the beautiful beach community she lives in to meet her and have a stroll with Nicholas. As soon as I arrived, she said, “I received 2 for 1 fish coupons from a new Fish and Chip place on 152nd called Critters, should we pick up fish and chips and take them to the beach?” “Whatever, OK,” I said. So we headed over there with Nicholas and parked to go in and get our fish and chips for a deal. We walk in, Mom clutching her coupon and realize we were in a pet store and the 2 for one fish was fish for your cat!
After I wiped the tears from my eyes from laughing so hard, I realized this was some sort of sign to get me back on track. It finally got me to tell mom that coupon or no coupon we are going to get a salad or something half ways healthy. This was the turning point of me getting back to what works for managing my energy. Over the last 4 months of my maternity leave I was able to turn around my energy levels and recover by making sure my daily activities were congruent with my value of honoring my health and fitness levels. I started moving more and giving the fast food a pass. I always felt physically and mentally crappy after a fast food lunch partly because I was not honoring one of my values. Now I weigh my choices against this value and drive by the drive through.
Try to find activities that combine your core values. If your kids are old enough, quality time together can be spent exercising, meeting your fitness and family values. If you want to make a contribution to the world and also achieve financial independence see if you can pursue a career with a charitable organization. While this is not always possible you can always use part of the money you earn to support charities of your choice. My work as a cataract surgeon allows me financial independence and the ability to help others. My job allows me to support research into macular degeneration and I started an online magazine for older adults to empower them with health and wellness strategies as well as to raise money for research. Knowing your values early on in life can help you determine the right career path for yourself.
It is so important to really connect with a deeply held set of values. When you are living true to your values you feel more vital and less stressed. Live by your values and form rituals that are consistent with those values. If you live your life on your terms your energy levels will soar.
- Below is an extensive list of potential values. Go through and mark all the ones that resonate with you and then go back and pick the top 10. These are your key values
- Take out two pieces of paper and on one list your values and on another list your daily activities. Then take the two lists and determine how many of your daily activities align with your values. For any that don’t, determine if you can stop doing them. Always ask yourself prior to taking on any new project or commitment whether what you will be doing is congruent with one or more of your values. If it is not then politely decline.
List of Values
Abundance, acceptance, accomplishment, achievement, adventure, affection, affluence, ambition, appreciation, assertiveness, attractiveness, balance, beauty, belonging, bliss, bravery, boldness, brilliance, calmness, celebrity, charm, cheerfulness, clarity, cleanliness, cleverness, closeness, comfort, commitment, compassion, confidence, connection, consistency, contentment, contribution, conviction, courage, creativity, dependability, determination, devotion, dignity, directness, discipline, discovery, discretion, diversity, dynamic, education, effectiveness, efficiency, eloquence, empathy, elegance, encouragement, endurance, energy, enjoyment, entertainment, enthusiasm, excellence, excitement, experience, expertise, exploration, expressiveness, extravagance, faith, fame, family, fashion, fearlessness, fidelity, fierceness, feistiness, financial independence, firmness, fitness, flexibility, flow, focus, fortitude, frankness, freedom, friendliness, fun generosity, giving, grace, gratitude, growth, guidance, happiness, harmony, health, heart, help, holiness, honesty, honor, hopefulness, humility, humor, imagination, independence, ingenuity, inquisitiveness, insightfulness, inspiration, integrity, intelligence, intensity, intimacy, intuition, inventiveness, joy, justice, kindness, knowledge, leadership, learning, legacy, liberation, liberty, liveliness, logic, longevity, love, loyalty, making a difference, mastery, maturity, mindfulness, modesty, motivation, neatness, nerve, open-mindedness, openness, optimism, order, organization, originality, outlandishness, outrageousness, passion, peace, perceptiveness, perfection, perseverance, persistence, persuasiveness, philanthropy, playfulness, pleasantness, pleasure, poise, polish, popularity, power, professionalism, prosperity, practicality, precision, preparedness, presence, punctuality, realism, reason, recognition, refinement, reflection, relaxation, reliability, religiousness, resilience, resolution, resolve, resourcefulness, respect, rest, restraint, reverence, riches, security, self control, selflessness, sensitivity, serenity, sensuality, service, sexuality, sharing, shrewdness, significance, stillness, simplicity, sincerity, silence, skillfulness, spirit, spontaneity, spunk, stability, strength, success, support synergy, thankfulness, thoroughness, thoughtfulness, tranquility, trust, trustworthiness, truth, understanding, uniqueness, usefulness, virtue, valor, vision, vitality, warmth, wealth, wildness, willingness, winning, wisdom, wittiness, wonder, youthfulness, zeal
Monday, May 31st, 2010
The N in the ENERGY acronym represents NOW for living in the moment and enjoying the journey.
Women wear like a badge of honor our ability to multitask. There is evidence from brain research that women are better at multitasking then men (sorry guys). We are so proud of the fact that we can do eight loads of laundry, negotiate a critical contract, make a dinner out of the pages of Gourmet magazine and talk our girlfriend out of a crisis all at the same time.
The problem is that we don’t do any of them exceptionally well and we certainly don’t enjoy them. The lack of focus really leads to lack of productivity and we travel through our lives checking off our “to do” lists but never really living. A recent study for Hewlett Packard revealed that the average IQ drops by 10 points while multi-tasking which is equivalent to missing one night of sleep and with a one year old I know what that is all about.
Multitasking also increases your stress. Many studies have found that multitasking boosts the levels of stress related hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. This wears down your system and leads to premature aging. It is also known that increased cortisol has been linked to belly fat. So we could all be a little thinner and less wrinkled if we stop multi-tasking. How do we stop doing too many things at once and feeling stressed when it seems there is so much to do all the time?
Try doing just one thing at a time. Really be in that moment, immerse yourself in it and see if it is more enjoyable. Live your life. Really love your life, one moment at a time. Don’t waste your energy trying to do everything at once.
I struggle with this constantly. But I do find if we are conscious of living for the now we are more likely to do it. I am trying to make efforts in little ways to achieve this. For instance, when one of the members of my team comes into my office to ask me something, I put down what I am doing, or stop typing on the computer and physically turn my chair towards the person addressing me.
By giving people your full attention in the moment they feel more valued, you actually hear what they are saying and the issue or question can be addressed more appropriately. Try the next time one of your co-workers, your spouse, your child or your friend addresses you to really be in the moment and give them your full attention. If there are times in your day when you just cannot be disturbed except for an emergency then let others know and have a sign on the door or a specific time frame when you should not be disturbed.
Another simple way to live in the now is to spend a little time outdoors each day in gratitude for your life and all that is in it. Try to find time to walk outdoors or at the very least appreciate the view of the mountains or trees as you drive home after a long day. Just connecting with nature even for a short moment will help to ground you and bring you back to what really matters.
In Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now, he emphasizes this concept. Now is all we really have and stress that we feel is usually related to worrying about the past or anticipating yet something else that has to get done. As capable women our ability to handle many different things in a day gives us our strength and adaptability. This is great and not something we should change. Just make sure you are handling each task one by one and enjoying each moment one by one to make up that day of multiple tasks. It’s the power of focus. No more sorting rubber maid bins in your mind while having sex (yes, a girlfriend of mine told me she actually did this once). Really be where you are. Life goes by so fast and is made up of the special, small yet meaningful moments that touch us each day. Don’t let them pass you by without noticing, living and enjoying them.
Action Steps for Living in the Moment
Tomorrow morning when you take a shower enjoy the warm water, really feel the water on your neck and running down your back. Enjoy the relaxation of the moment. Take time to relax and be in the moment while you are in the shower. Think of it as a mini break from the general chaos of life.
Sometimes I don’t even know if I have washed my hair or shaved my legs because I am so distracted when I am in the shower. I am thinking about the appointments I have that day, the people I have to call back, the emails I need to send and I never enjoy and appreciate the moment. Try a shower where you don’t go through the days to-do list at the same time.
2) The deep breathing square. Try this as a break throughout the day if you are feeling stressed. It combines deep breathing with visualization and is extremely effective.
Picture a square in front of you. Starting in the lower left hand corner of the square breathe in for 4 seconds and in your minds eye to travel up the length of the square. Then hold for 4 seconds in the corner. Then exhale and travel along the top portion of the square. Hold your breath again for 4 seconds. Then inhale and travel down the side of the square. Hold again for 4 seconds at the corner. And then exhale and travel along the bottom of the square to the corner that you started in. The entire exercise takes 28 seconds and will revitalize you.
Being aware of living in the moment and enjoying the journey will help us all to be more mindful of the precious moments of our life as they unfold. The first step to making a change and starting to live in the now is to be conscious of it.
Monday, May 24th, 2010
This is the first segment in the six week series on Energy Management.
The subject of this blog will be the E for Eating well and Exercising
There is no question in my mind that when you feel better physically you feel better mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It extrapolates to all areas of your life and helps you to build momentum. The physical is the foundation on which all other aspects of your life are placed. To feel better physically you must be eating well and moving your body.
Basic eating well guidelines
Eat whole foods such as grains, fresh veggies and fruits.
By ingesting foods that trigger a less inflammatory state we can improve our health and energy and decrease the risk of cancer, heart disease and premature aging. Research has shown that many of the age related diseases as well as much of the normal process of aging is triggered by inflammation. Diet can influence this inflammation. The food choices we make can kick us into a pro-inflammatory state or an anti-inflammatory state. Knowing which foods trigger inflammation will arm us with the education needed to avoid them and possibly prevent some age related diseases.
The three main components of any diet are fats, carbohydrates and proteins. There are specific guidelines to follow in our consumption of each component that can help us to decrease the level of inflammation in our system. The two diets most commonly linked to increased health, vitality and longevity are the Japanese diet and the Mediterranean diet. These diets follow the anti-inflammatory theme with inclusion of fish, lots of vegetables, no processed foods and very little red meat. Dr. Andrew Weil discusses this anti-inflammatory diet extensively in his book healthy aging.
The following rules will help you to avoid unhealthy fats that lead to inflammation:
- Never eat products with partially hydrogenated oil
- Don’t use vegetable shortening
- Do not eat margarine. Use butter or olive oil
- Avoid fried foods in restaurants
- Minimize the use of polyunsaturated vegetable oils such as sunflower, corn or sesame oil
- Never heat oils so they smoke
- Use extra virgin olive oil
To choose healthy carbohydrates do the following:
- Know the glycemic index for foods and gravitate towards those with a low glycemic index. This means less bread, potatoes, crackers, chips and pastries and more grains, beans and vegetables.
- Eat less refined and processed food
- Eat less fast food
- Eat fewer things made with white flour
- Avoid high fructose corn syrup
To ingest protein that does not promote inflammation do the following:
- Eat less meat
- Eat more vegetable protein like soy, beans, whole grains, seeds and nuts
- Eat fish that is low in toxins
Other Eating Tips
- The easiest way to follow this diet is shop around the perimeter of the grocery store. All the real food, the good stuff is on the outside.
- Also do everything in moderation. Have a cheat day one day a week (I pick Saturday) where you can eat whatever you want. It is so important to not deprive ourselves of the things we love.
- Drink water about 64 oz per day for the average women. That is 3 large water bottles worth per day.
- Eat every 4 hours to stabilize blood sugar.
Basic guidelines for Exercising
Move. Simple yet effective.
I started doing an exercise system called Tabatas that are great to boost energy when you are crunched for time. Dr. Tabata from Japan devised this system that can be applied to any cardio workout or exercise. You go hard for 20 seconds and slow or rest for 10 seconds and then go hard for 20 seconds and slow or rest for 10 seconds. This makes up one minute of exercise repeat x 4 and each Tabata takes just 4 minutes.
I have adapted this interval routine to a cardio workout on the stationary bike, holding a plank position or doing squat presses. You can really take almost any cardio or resistance exercise and do it as a Tabata. If I choose 3-4 exercises I can have a very productive workout in 12-16 minutes. This very effective interval training keeps your metabolism kicked up for the day.
The other issue with exercise is motivation you need a big enough why to do this and make sure the why is compelling for you. Saying you want to healthy is not enough. What is healthy? What does healthy mean to YOU. It must be compelling and move you whether it is looking great for the 20 year grad reunion or fitting in to skinny jeans make it something tangible in the near future that you really really want.
Action Steps for Eating Well and Exercising
- This week try eating broccoli, apples, blueberries and tomatoes at least once. These foods are high in phyto-nutrients and do not promote inflammation in your system.
- Drink 3 sport water bottles full of fresh clean pure water per day (approx. 64oz)
- Make a commitment to move your body for 20 minutes at least 4 times this week.
- Try a Tabata it only takes 4 minutes.
Make sure you go easy on yourself. Lean in to your wellness. Set rules that work for you and your schedule.
Come back next week when I will discuss the second component of the Energy Management system N – Living in the Now and being Mindful.
Monday, May 24th, 2010
The idea of Energy Management has been transformative for me on so many levels. By managing my energy I have seen vast improvements in my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.
Forget about managing time. Time cannot be managed. We all have all the time there is. 24 golden hours in a day. It doesn’t matter whether you are Oprah Winfrey, Nelson Mandela, Bono or Hilary Clinton. Time is the great equalizer. In the average lifespan, we have 960 months and approximately 29,000 days. Wouldn’t you love to spend those 29,000 days in a peak state of energy, happiness and vitality? I have come to realize that energy and not time is the hot commodity. How we manage our energy will dictate how big we play the game of life and the impact that we have.
It seems there is always too much to do in a given time frame and that is where the challenge begins. We are trying to be mothers, wives, sisters, friends, successful business people and community leaders. How do we fit it all in? I used to think I had it all figured out and I was successful in my personal and professional life. And then my miracle happened. I got pregnant and had Nicholas. And to put it bluntly …all bets were off. My life changed dramatically. It was no longer all about me. He became the focus. “Time for me” meant sacrificing sleep and walking around like a zombie.
I came upon this concept of energy management by screwing it all up, feeling crappy and then realizing that in the first year after my son was born I had stopped doing the things that had worked for me in the past. I knew I had to do something differently. I thought about what I used to do that really worked for me and distilled it into this system. Nothing in this system is earth shattering but I have often found that success comes from doing the simple things consistently. I feel more energetic and productive than I ever have even while chasing around a 15-month-old. I hope that by using these strategies it will help you to improve your energy and reach your full potential.
My strategy for energy management is summarized by the acronym ENERGY. And over the next 6 weeks on this blog I will discuss all the components in detail.
Principles of Energy Management
Y – Your Strengths