“The energy of the mind is the essence of life.” — Aristotle
If you can master your energy, you will get better results in work and life.
Your energy is a premium resource. You need it whether you are taking on big challenges or simply hacking your way through your day.
The key here is, you can recharge your energy throughout your day, if you know the people and tasks that charge you, and the people and tasks that drain you.
The beauty is that this really is a case where awareness is half the battle. Just by being aware of this idea, you will get a better handle on your energy.
From there, you can make changes to increase your energy.
People and Tasks as Catalysts and Drains
I have a simple way of looking at my catalysts and drains now. For me, clarity came when I broke my catalysts and drains down into two buckets:
To improve your energy, you need to be aware of your catalysts and your drains:
- Some people jazz you. These are catalysts.
- Some people don’t. These are drains. (some people call them “energy vampires”).
- Some tasks jazz you. These are catalysts.
- Some tasks don’t. These are drains.
Simply noticing this will help you start to see patterns of things you do or who you spend your time with.
On the People Side…
I pay more attention now to people in terms of whether they are a catalysts or drains for me:
- With some individuals, I’m impressed at their ability to sap energy. (I can almost hear Gauntlet in the background saying, “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 it compounds my results.
And with my drains that I can’t avoid, I use it as personal growth to figure out how can I stand strong when tested. And I also use my drains as a challenge to find creative ways to create better energy in my interaction.
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, you can think of your tasks in terms of 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 is relative and you should be aware of what gives you energy or takes it away.
So even your choice of tasks or how you do your tasks can be a source of your self-awareness and personal growth.
How to Increase Your Energy
Like I said, awareness if half the battle. If you think in terms of catalysts and drains, you have a new lens to choreograph your life.
You can now mix and match to help you survive and thrive. For example:
If I work on tasks that drain me, I try to pair up with people who jazz me, to help keep me going.
And if I work with people who drain me, I try to find energizing tasks to help me mitigate the drains.
The ideal scenario is working on tasks that jazz you with people who catalyze you and unleash a better version of yourself.
But on the practical side, just being aware of your catalysts and drains will help you make smarter moves throughout your day.
Once you realize this little secret, you can be more selective and you can find more ways to adapt, adjust or avoid your catalysts and drains to live a better life.