Have you ever heard of the spoons theory?
Though it is popular among people with chronic illnesses, such as arthritis or multiple sclerosis, it can apply to anyone. With the spoon theory, energy is related to spoons, and everyone gets a certain number of “spoons” daily. Some tasks take more spoons, and others take fewer spoons. Once you’re out of “spoons,” you’re out of energy and have no more to give to people or tasks.
In our world of go go go, people tend to cut out sleep. They stay up late and get up early. They work over 40 hours a week and work 12-to-14-hour days. By the time they get home, they are exhausted and maybe have time to eat dinner, shower, and get a few hours of sleep before getting up and doing it all over again. People go into the next day (and the day after that) with fewer spoons.
There has to be a better way
Time is a finite resource—it has a limit. Once it’s gone, you cannot get it back. So we do more to try and manage time by working longer hours to get everything done. And working longer hours does nothing other than deplete your physical, mental, and emotional energy and lead to burnout. 52% of employees feel burnt out.
But what about energy? Energy is an infinite resource, which means it can be replenished. Instead of managing work-life around a clock or a calendar, why not manage it around energy?
Energy management has always been a thing
Managing time means dividing the workday into tasks and determining how much time is needed to complete those tasks. Time management, however, doesn’t factor in the need to recharge because some tasks might need more physical, mental, or emotional energy than others.
How can you and your employees replenish energy and give yourselves more spoons so you can be more present and focused?
Pay attention to your attention
Some like to be powerhouses and to work through the day without ever taking a break. When working, pay attention to your attention. When it seems to drift, or you find yourself feeling tired or hungry, take that as your cue to stop what you’re doing. Take a walk, get a snack or some lunch, or do some meditation. The key point here is to step away from the desk or the screen—your work will still be there when you get back.
Throw away the idea of multitasking
As mentioned in previous blogs, multitasking is a myth. Brains cannot focus on more than one task at a time; the more we focus on, the faster our energy is depleted. Give yourself time to focus on a task that allows your brain to relax while focusing on a single activity. Fit no-electronics time into your day and do something like pick a favorite book off your bookshelf and read.
Eat well, exercise, and rest
These health and wellness facts might surprise you:
- The average adult sleeps less than seven hours a night.
- Less than three percent of Americans have a healthy lifestyle (eating right and exercising).
- Sitting down at your desk for over six hours leads to long-term effects on your health, such as weight gain, a bad back, and being at risk for cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Instead of succumbing to the urge to sleep less, eat a lot of junk food, and sit down for hours on end, structure good sleep into your night and movement in your day. Make time to exercise, get up and move around, and make time for some “you time,” where you relax and enjoy a hobby. Your energy reserves will replenish, and your body will thank you.
Set your boundaries
Create boundaries for how much you want to get done in a day. If, for instance, you are a content writer and you find writing blogs to be particularly draining, set reasonable expectations for what else you’ll accomplish on days when you write blogs. You can adjust boundaries as needed.
Gain more energy in your days – and more spoons
You want to end the day with some energy and spoons left in your mental drawer. Rethink the idea of time management, and instead of structuring tasks around the time it takes to complete them, structure tasks around your energy—and encourage your employees to do the same.
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Photo by piksel