Catalysts and Drains
This is a follow up to my post, Manage Energy, Not Time. A few folks have asked me how I figure out energy drains and catalysts. Some people jazz you. Some people don’t. Some tasks jazz you. Some tasks don’t. Just paying attention to this fact can help you start to get a handle on your energy. Energy is your premium resource in today’s world. You need to know where your passions come from, just as much as you need to know what gets in the way. Simply noticing this will help you start to see patterns of things you do or who you spend your time with.
Tasks and People
I have a simple way of looking at it. For me, clarity came when I broke it down into:
I think in terms of people and tasks. Working on tasks that drain me, with people who jazz me, help me keep going. Likewise, finding a way to work on better tasks with people who drain me, help me mitigate the drains. The idea scenario is working on tasks that jazz you with people who catalyze you and unleash the best version of yourself. But on the practical side, knowing your catalysts and drains is more than half the battle. Once you realize this secret, you can be more selective and you can find more ways to adapt, adjust or avoid situations or people to live your best life.
On the task side …
I learned to think more carefully about tasks during one of my training sessions. You can actually think of tasks in terms of whether they energize or drain you. Or put it another way, whether they make you strong or make you weak. This hit home for me when one of the instructors gave some example scenarios:
- You have to analyze a few 1000 rows of data in a spreadsheet
- You have to give a last-minute presentation for a few thousand people in an hour
- You have a whiteboarding session to design a product
- You have to code a 1000 lines to solve an important problem
Ask Yourself How You Feel
The instructor asked, “how do you feel?” about the various scenarios. He said some people will have “energy” for some of these. Others won’t. Some people will be excited by the chance to drill into data and cells on spreadsheets. He said others will be excited by painting the broader strokes. He then gave more examples, such as, the irony of how you might have the energy to go skiing, but not to go to the movies.
The point he was making was that energy was relative and that you should be aware of what gives you energy or takes it away.
On the people side …
I pay more attention to people now in terms catalysts and drains:
- With some individuals, I’m impressed at their ability to sap energy. (I can almost hear Gauntlet in the background …”Your life force is running out …”).
- With other individuals, they are clearly catalysts, giving me energy to move mountains.
It’s interesting for me now to think of both people and tasks in terms of catalysts and drains. Now I consciously spend more time with catalysts, and less time with drains, and I enjoy the results.
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