Business Executives Take A Breather.
Whilst the world’s biggest brains focus their attention on our natural energy deposits and how we get greener in our bid to retain natural resources around the world to sustain life we’ve been ignoring the bigger and equally urgent issue of our own personal energy crisis. I recently came across an article by Tony Schwartz, well known in the States as the founder and man at the helm of The Energy Project a business aimed at supporting CEO’s and senior business executives discover a better way of working.
His article cited a number of alarming statistics from a survey of 160 senior executives of a large bank namely;
- That 77% said they had trouble focusing on one thing at a time feeling easily and constantly distracted during the day.
- That 80% said they took too little time strategically and creatively and spend too much of their time reacting to the immediate demands instead of focusing on long term value and higher leverage.
- That 54% said they often feel impatient, frustrated or irritable at work, particularly when demand peaks.
These business executives are not alone , I see it as a consistent trend across the majority of sectors and can speak from my own personal experience . We’re living in an age where there is just too much capacity, in other words, the demands being made are placing many senior executives under undue pressure and its not sustainable. I gave up trying to keep on top of the 250 plus emails a day whilst holding down a senior role in corporate land. My days got longer because I fell into the same trap that many do, to devote more time to work. The irony here, is that the more you give the more it drains because its often at the expense of your health and well-being, your social and family life and your creativity and mental dexterity, before you know it you’ve hit that slippery slope of existence until something happens to bring you to your senses.
Schwartz states that we’re not meant to operate like computers, at high speeds continuously for long periods of time. Instead we’re psychologically designed to pulse, to move rhythmically between spending and renewing energy.
Its natural for us to need periods of rest and recuperation but that’s hardly the macho thing to do . Many cultures subtlety perpetuate this endemic problem, where being available and on the go and pacing results is something that’s identified with being effective and efficient and having the edge. Little wonder that addictive tendencies creap in in a bid to keep motoring whilst fighting fatigue.
When fatigue sets in over the course of a day, we all increasingly and unconsciously rely on emergency sources of energy: adrenalin, noradrenalin and cortisol. In this aroused fight-or-flight state, our pre-frontal cortex, which helps us think reflectively and creatively, begins to shut down. We become more reactive, reflexive and impulsive.
The energy drain creeks up on us slowly, so much so that we just fail to appreciate the part that we play in this process;
We fail to get a regular 8 hours sleep.
We miss lunch breaks or just snack at the desk.
We stop a regular physical exercise routine.
We neglect our family responsibilities for the demands of the organisation.
So listen up, we’re not wired to behave in this way and we need to take personal responsibility for how we feel because this affects everything we do. It ’s not clever to hand over our bodies, our hearts and our minds to our employers.
So what stops us breaking free?
I think in 99.9% of cases the answer lies in one word of four letters ……………..FEAR!!!!
We fear losing our jobs.
We fear getting looked over for promotion.
We fear not being good enough.
We fear not being in control.
We fear living a meaningless existence.
We fear disappointing others.
We fear being seen as weak and incapable.
We fear the unknown.
Fear drains our energy like nothing else and no amount of bonuses and benefits will counter its impact.
Is There A Better Way of Working ?
Here are 7 aspects to consider if you’re a busy executive feeling depleted and drained.
1. Free Up Time
Devote a proprtion of your working week for personal reflection time and block out some space in your executive diary for creativity sessions to focus your attention on the important stuff.
2. Get Clear On Your Values.
Values act as our moral compass and help guide our decision-making. Once you’re clear on your top 5 values you’ll begin to get a whole lot clearer on where, who and how you want to invest your time.
3. Forget Multi-Tasking.
Our brains work best when we focus on one single task at a time-do that and you’ll find that your productivity and effectiveness turns round over night.
4. Get Moving.
The less energy you expend the less energy you actually have . Regular movement aids concentration, memory function and flow, enough said!!!
We’re made up of two thirds water so it makes sense that we need to regulary hydrate to prevent feeling light headed throughout the day. And here are facts to make us understand the association of fluid and our body: 75 percent of our brain is water and it regulates our body temperature; 83 percent of our body’s blood is water; water removes body waste (water helps in digestion); it cushions bone, 75 percent of muscles are water; it helps the body absorb nutrients (water works as soluble that make nutrients easy to absorb); it protects and cushions our vital organs; it helps convert food into energy (water works as soluble that make nutrients from food easy to absorb); it moistens oxygen for breathing; finally it helps carries nutrients and oxygen to cells; and helps to maintain normal kidney function.
Focus Energy On What You Love To Do.
Ok we all have aspects of our role which might be boring or not where we prefer to spend our time but doing stuff we loathe is one of the biggest energy sapping factors there is and will neutalise any of the other aspects on this list. Work needs to be far more than just securing a paycheck, neglect this aspect and work will be become intolerable. Get clear on your purpose and whether that one can be met in your current role and environment.
Watch The Environment.
Our space affects our mood and clutter in the office can impact our ability for clear thinking. Beware also of who takes your time and the people you spend time with. Do they uplift you or do they drain you?
So there you have it,7 factors that can seriously impact your daily energy levels and if you want to free yourself from the restrictions of being an employee and join the self employed brigade then start to free up some time and some energy to consider whether that might just be a better way of working.
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