The 4 Dimensions of Energy Management at Work

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In the past few years, there has been a substantial increase in people engaging in multiple endeavors, juggling multiple roles, and working longer hours. This is essentially due to the current state of the working world which has become more fast-paced, competitive and agile, subsequently necessitating higher levels of self-regulation leading to depletion of energy resources.  To make an analogy, imagine that your brain’s capacity to function is similar to that of a car. The latter needs fuel and so does the former. However, the only difference between the function of a car on fuel and a brain on energy is that there are no indicators that warn us of our energy reserves. Human beings tend to do poorly at identifying energy depletion. Thus, overextending our energy resources has cathartic effects on our cognitive and affective capabilities as our overall health. In light of the above, it is imperative to identify the energy drainers, the effects they have on our health, as well as the ways to regenerate, sustain or further develop our energy capacity. Identifying Energy Drainers: Think of energy drainers as that background white noise that you are barely aware of but is there and has gradual micro effects on you and your performance. In fact, a plethora of research studies have found that energy depletion is robustly associated with external factors that drain one’s energy such as other people’s decisions or behaviors, an annoying situation, a crossed boundary, frustration from unfinished project by a colleague and other circumstances that are beyond our control, leaving us feeling powerless.  In order to understand this better, check the following for a list of the different types of people who tend to have energy draining qualities.
  1. People who constantly demand attention by exhausting their boasting/bossy behavior.
  2. People who display intelligence in an annoying way.
  3. People who show little effort when it comes to projects between departments.
  4. Emails: we do not need to write countless emails to communicate regularly with internal teams or clients.
  5. Meetings without any clear agenda.
  6. A cluttered work space is a mere reflection of a cluttered mind.
  7. Too many commitments during the day with long periods of work without rest.
  8. Multitasking vs. stillness and boredom
  9. Workspace noise: clattering keyboards, loud speaking coworkers, gossiping…
Effects of Energy Depletion: It is of no doubt that the above mentioned situations can easily disrupt our ability to perform. In fact, negative people or situations, if not managed properly by setting boundaries, tend to irritate and quietly drag you down towards a negative cycle of emotions, feelings and thoughts that will lead to several deleterious effects. It can harm one’s mental and physical health leading to higher levels of impulsivity and decreased performance, making one susceptible to losing their job or quitting on their own. Some of the effects of energy depletion are detected at a later stage because we tend to overlook them. In order to overcome this, stay mindful of the physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual aspects of energy depletion by creating a checklist of the following:
  • Distraction, Exhaustion and Fatigue
  • Guilt and Dissatisfaction
  • Impulsiveness due to negative/stressful situations
  • Declining levels of engagement
  • Low attention span, hazardous judgements and decision-making strategies
  • Loss of meaning and purpose
  • Increase mental and physical health problems
  • Increase in turnover rates 
Regeneration, Sustainability and Development of Energy Capacities: Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy in their “Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time” study, stated that there are four“ wellsprings in human beings: the body, emotions, mind, and spirit”. Each of these are interconnected where developing the first energy source, “the body”, is essential to the development of the subsequent three. Any dysfunction at each of the first three energy sources could lead to the negative effects previously mentioned. So, how is it possible to repair or rebuild the energy capacities at each level? The Body Energy As previously mentioned, exhaustion and fatigue tend to be one of the first symptoms of energy depletion that take time to get noticed. Despite that, you can easily overcome it or repair it at a later stage by:
  1. Setting an intermittent work/break rhythmic pattern: Working from 9 till 12, then having your lunch break and going back to work from 13:00 to 17:00 could be one of the main reasons that people become exhausted. Studies have shown that working for 90 – 120 minutes without any distractions and then taking a 5 – 15 minutes break is imperatively essential for your physical health that surely exerts better cognitive and emotive effects.
  2. Reducing Switching Cost: Many of us have faced the circumstance of having our phones ring in the most awkward situations such as important meetings with clients or so. What you can do while working is to remove any form of possible distraction from the space around you.
  3. Freeing the self during your breaks: Breaks that do not include any form of self-control and regulation (music, family and friends, a walk, a colleague gathering addressing positive issues) are highly encouraged to repair your capacity to perform. We all need that deep breath and calmness of the soul after spending our energy on a task.
  4. The essentials: have a proper 7- to 8-hour sleep schedule, engage in a healthy diet, drink water and exercise.
The Emotional Energy: With the on-going stressful demand of the ever-increasing corporate or business world and work/life balance, people might let their emotions be left unrecognized and unresolved leading to emotional energy drainage. Arising negative emotions must be identified and made conscious rather than repressed. This can be attained by:
  • Developing your Emotional Intelligence: By identifying and regulating our emotions, we can utilize this affective information to improve their energy regardless of the circumstances. 
  • Utilizing the 3-6-5 breathing technique: 3 times a day, 6 full breaths per minute, for a total of 5 minutes.
  • Buying time: Once negative emotions arise, take a step back with deep breaths to avoid impulsive decisions and behaviors.
  • Engaging in Gratitude and Savoring acts.
The Mind Energy You may have heard about the term Emotional Hijacking. It is when our brain responds to emotive stimuli much faster than the ability to process them cognitively, thus leading to impairments in attention and decision-making abilities. However, by developing our physical and emotive energy capacities, it is highly encouraged to work upon your Cognitive one by:
    1. Switching Time, again: As previously mentioned, removing distractions and focusing your  energy and attention on the task at hand during the 90-120 minutes you will attain optimal performance especially when you let loose when taking your 5- to 15- minutes breaks.
    2. Urgent vs Not urgent: It is best to structure your responses during the day to emails and calls unnecessary distractions
    3. Certainty isn’t always a good thing: As Tony Schwartz said “Let go of certainty. The opposite isn’t uncertainty. It’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose upsides”. By accepting new experiences and challenges, you are expanding your cognitive processing capabilities such as reasoning, problem solving, memory and processing skills.
The Human Spirit: Energy of Meaning and Purpose Many if not all human beings have felt that they lack a sense of purpose and meaning at least once in their lives. However, this also can be developed and attained to reach your highest actualized self. In order to find meaning and purpose, the “Wheel of Life” developed by Zig Ziglar, which is similar to the aforementioned four wellsprings, stresses upon the importance of the harmonious and even association between 7 states of being: mental, spiritual, physical, personal, financial, career and family. As for the spiritual aspect, harnessing the power of your spiritual energy is fundamentally crucial. This spiritual realm is intrinsic and unique to each individual. It is based upon one’s core values and self regardless of the absurd materialistic outside world. Developing your spirituality is a core element to create your purpose and derive your meaning. In order to engage in spiritual success one can engage in:
  • Meditation Exercises. There are many techniques that can be utilized such as Mindfulness, Mindful Walking, Focus and Breathing Meditation
  • Prayers. Visiting places of worship has been proven throughout history to be effective for many people.
  • Regular Acts of Compassion. Positive psychology science has proven time and time again that engaging in random acts of kindness is an eye opening experience that fills up the spiritual resource evenly and completely.
  • Disidentification. With the work place filled with employees, tasks and needs, sometimes taking a step away from the world to experience silence for at least 5 minutes is all that is necessary to boost your motivation and performance throughout the day.
In summary, managing your energy wellsprings is an essential part of ever-increasing self growth and optimized performance in the corporate world. Such resources do not follow an all- or none- law, but instead can be regenerated if depleted, sustained, and enhanced to great lengths. Thus, we at ighcc have developed several programs such as the ig Wellness program that tackles the holistic and emotional energy aspects.
  • Holistic Program: This is a 4 week learning experience specifically designed to offer everyday, accessible tools for employees to manage their time more effectively, and release negativity and anxiety that often hinders focus.
It includes four learning modules:
  • Mind Tenacity
  • Physical Health
  • Post-COVID work performance
  • Looking outward: the way forward
  • Emotional Energy Program: Throughout the course of two highly experiential days, participants will acquire the adequate mindset that will set them on a path of continuous emotional energy. They will explore 4 Pillars that will provide them with the fundamental skills to:
  • Sustain and upgrade their own performance
  • Shift their mindsets towards that of serial achievers
  • Deliver a stellar performance at work.
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