October 2, 2014

Identifying My Energy Depleters

This week has been really hectic! I spent Monday through Wednesday back in Ithaca, NY, where I went to school – my company was recruiting college students for full-time positions and I was one of the interviewers. It was really fun to be back on campus, and I loved getting to interact with students and tell them more about my job and why it’s awesome.

Fall Colors Cornell Ag Quad
Also awesome: fall colors in the Finger Lakes. I can’t say that I regularly miss college but this trip sure made me nostalgic!

I felt really great when I left Ithaca – finally over this stupid cold that’s been plaguing me, and also like I had really made a difference by getting to help students with the tough career path choices that senior year brings. Then yesterday I had some travel snafus that got in the way of my getting a lot of actual client work done, and I kind of felt like it ruined the good vibes I had built up on my trip. I was supposed to spend all of today at a women’s leadership conference in downtown Denver, but ended up having to dash out in favor of some quality time at my laptop running analyses and building decks. Yuck!

However! I really enjoyed one of the talks that I did get to attend, with career coach Tama Kieves. Although Tama focused a lot on finding your passion in life and matching your career to that, we did an exercise in her session that I found really helpful… and it was actually because I did it completely wrong 🙂

Tama asked us to make a list of activities that make us lose energy and those that make us gain energy, and it was intended to be a way for you to find hobbies that you’re passionate about and figure out how you can incorporate those into your day job so that you’re “living an inspired life.” However, I misunderstood the point, and instead of listing the big activities that I do, I listed the various little tasks that I do and how they affect my energy level throughout the day/night. Here’s what I came up with:

Lose energy: Reading online forums and randomly browsing the internet
Gain energy: Reading blogs and getting to see the “unread” count in Feedly go down
Gain energy: Commenting on blogs and connecting with others

Lose energy: Getting started on an assignment (because I tend to procrastinate until I really get into it!)
Gain energy: Being in the midst of an assignment or finishing an assignment

Lose energy: Trying to multitask and do lots of little things without any clear focus on one
Gain energy: Timeboxing an assignment and completing it by my artificial deadline, then checking it off my to-do list
Gain energy: Clearing out my email (inbox zero!)

Lose energy: Watching TV on the couch or while eating
Gain energy: Reading a book on the couch or while eating
Gain energy: Watching TV while exercising
Gain energy: Leaving the house to meet others/for an appointment

I found that there are lots of little activities that I think I like to do… that actually make me feel kind of crappy and unproductive. They aren’t bad activities, per se (nothing wrong with a little couch/TV time some nights!), but for me they are “energy depleters” and I usually don’t feel better after doing them. From that list, of things I do to lose and gain energy, it’s pretty clear that I’m motivated by lists and deadlines, and I’m thinking I can use that to make myself more productive in the future. I wrote down that I hated getting started on a task, but that once I’m in the thick of it, I’m happy as a clam… so I need to make sure that I remember that and get into the task quickly so I can get to the good part!

Some of the things that are energy depleters for me are things that I do subconsciously – clicking over to look at Flyertalk, or vegging out on the couch to watch TV (even when I already have my gym clothes on and know that I should be off getting sweaty). I’m hoping that by making this list, it will bring to the forefront of my mind that I don’t like doing these activities, and usually feel worse after doing them. Each of them has an alternative that is fairly similar but makes me feel good about myself – and I should start trying to do more of those.

What are your energy depleters?


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