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How to manage your energy as an entrepreneur

Learn how to manage and maximise your energy as an entrepreneur.
Woman full of zest and energy, top of a mountain, reaching for the sky

‘Managing energy, not time, is the key to high performance, health and happiness.'

jim loehr & tony schwartz

Imagine it’s the end of the day and you’re utterly drained of all energy.

You worked hard all day, but you’re not sure how much you achieved (other than not enough).

You’ve got barely enough energy left to connect with your loved ones. You just want to collapse… 

Whether you’re a start-up founder or a seasoned solo entrepreneur, this is an all too familiar story unfortunately.

If you want to learn how to manage your energy as an entrepreneur – and get more energy – this is the blog for you.  

In my work as a positive psychology practitioner and Founder Coach, I work on wellbeing and peak performance. The topic of energy management and energy optimisation for entrepreneurs comes up regularly. How to manage your energy as an entrepreneur is a constant theme for my clients – how not to lose energy across too many projects for instance, how to not get too depleted by work and of course, the big one, how to avoid getting so exhausted that they burn out.

Our energy levels fluctuate each day – when our energy is high we usually feel good and can withstand stress with relative ease, when it drops, everything feels harder and we’re much more vulnerable to anxiety or tension.

So, how do you manage your energy as an entrepreneur or start-up founder effectively? How do you stay vital, with peak performance and productivity and have energy left over after work for the rest of your life? It’s tough.

In this blog I’m going to explore three areas in which entrepreneurs tend to lose energy… and how they can manage and even optimise their energy better.

The three areas I’m going to cover are physical energy, emotional energy, cognitive and creative energy. Although these areas of energy are all connected, it is useful to look at what can impact them separately.

Energy quadrants - how to manage your energy

Physical energy

We’ll make sure everything in our business and everyone else is well looked after, but who is the first person we’ll neglect? Errr…. Ourselves.

As entrepreneurs we tend to prioritise work over everything else. The thing is, this is a false economy. Our vitality is our power source. It’s the engine that drives us and our business – without it, everything comes to a stop.
What we know from positive psychology is that our vitality is an essential element for our wellbeing, which in turn is essential for our perspective, performance, and productivity… and doing well in our businesses.

What fuels our physical energy?

1. Movement

It’s typical that we often feel ‘too tired’ to exercise, but doing exercise actually *creates* more energetic capacity for us.

Anything from a ten-minute stretch, a dance around your kitchen, a short walk outside, to a full gym session, will help build your energy. The key is to use trial and error to discover what sort of movement makes you feel good and can become part of your regular routine. 



* What could that look like for you?

* What’s a helpful nudge you can create that’s going to support you to start and build a healthy exercise routine?

2. Nutrition & hydration

The fuel we consume impacts our energy levels.

Whilst we might reach for a quick burst of energy when we’re feeling stressed or anxious, what we know is that after a sugar high, comes a sugar crash, which will leave us feeling on edge, tired, tense and irritable.

Ideally, we need to avoid quick release carbohydrates such as those found in sugary foods, and go for slow-release complex carbohydrates instead, that will gradually release energy and keep our blood sugar levels stable. These are found in whole foods such as vegetables, brown rice, cereal etc. Research argues we should ‘eat the rainbow’ in our choice of fruit and vegetables, with plenty of protein and fibre.

Research also shows even a very mild dehydration impacts our cognitive abilities. We should drink 6-8+ glasses of water a day.

  • How could you support yourself to be more intentional about planning what you eat and when?
  • What would support you to drink lots of water throughout your day?
    [For instance, I use a giant water bottle with both a measuring scale to monitor how much I’ve drunk and a sippy straw to mean I can drink and type at the same time!]

3. Sleep

 Sleep disturbance is so common that most people have experienced it, and one in ten suffers so badly it significantly interferes with their daytime coping, energy and mood. 

We all need different amounts of sleep but the average recommendation for optimum functioning is 7-9 hours.

What helps you get a better night sleep?



  • Physical exercise during the day.
  • Good sleep hygiene with no screens for an hour before bed.
  • Winding down before sleeping (think bath, aromatherapy oils).
  • Relaxation exercises before sleep.
  • Reinforcing your body clock by having a regular bedtime.
  • Watching how close you drink caffeine, smoke, eat or drink alcohol to bedtime.



What can you to do support yourself to experience better sleep?

 

Woman sleeping soundly to illustrate how vital good sleep is to energy management

Emotional energy

 

There are many things that impact your emotional energy:

1.     Make sure your work priorities are aligned with purpose and meaning. 

We find wellbeing and fulfilment – which makes us feel good and gives us emotional energy – when we work in alignment with our core values. When we feel our work is meaningless, this impacts our emotions and mood, which depletes our energy. 



2.     Build and guard healthy boundaries.
Beware people-pleasing, which is a sure-fire drain on your energy. Although we might want to be agreeable to everyone, we need to understand that we only have finite energy, and we can’t be all things for all people. We need to have clear, healthy boundaries around what we need to do for our work and wellbeing, and detach with kindness from anything that is outside of those parameters.

3.     Focus on radiators, not drains.

Have you heard of mirror neurons? These are neurons in the brain that make us share in the state of someone we observe, either negatively or positively. 
Be mindful of people who drain your energy and choose instead to find the ‘radiators’ – those who embody positive emotions and energy and will share them with you!



4.     Take good breaks. 

Research shows that the key thing entrepreneurs can do to help prevent emotional and physical exhaustion and burn out, is take proper breaks from work. Regular complete distraction enables your body and mind to restore themselves properly, so you’re ready to go again.



5.     Prioritise self-care and relaxation.

When you’re under intense pressure and stress, it’s essential to look after your body and mind. Practices like exercise, meditation, deep breathing, and other relaxation techniques –support your ability to cope and bounce back from stress.

 

Woman running in a sunny park to demonstrate how vital movement and getting into nature is for energy management if you're an entrepreneur

If you find you’re still really struggling with your energy management and you’d like to go deeper on this work, book a call here – for a free 30 minute chat to talk through your challenges and explore whether I’d be a good fit to help you overcome them.  

Cognitive & Creative energy

When you’re knackered, you often feel like your brain won’t work properly and there are reasons for that!
Your cognitive and creative energy refer to your ability to think well and to come up with creative solutions to challenges.

There are both practical actions and perspective shifts you can embrace to support your cognitive and creative energy.

1.     Get good at prioritising. 

Get clear on your current priority goal(s). There should only be a few, to make it really clear what you’re working on. How do these goals link back to your purpose and impact? 



2.     Reverse engineer your work based on these few priorities. 

Make sure the tasks you’re working on are only those that move the needle with your priority goal(s). Getting distracted by too many different ideas dissipates and depletes your energy in many directions – leading to less overall energy and less impact across the board.

3.     Be intentional and optimistically realistic about planning your week.



* Set yourself only three primary goals per week and one thing to achieve each day.

* Make sure you’re setting yourself clear and realistic SMART goals – are they Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based? 



* Leave ‘wriggle room’ for when life happens.

4.     Do more of what energises you.

Ditch or delegate the tasks that deplete your energy. 
Apply your character strengths to your life and work for greater energy and impact.
These are your innate strengths, that come most naturally to you. When you use them, you’re most likely to feel really engaged and get into a flow state. Crucially, you will feel energised by what you’re doing. The science behind using your signature strengths is a big part of Positive Psychology. You can take a free scientific survey to discover yours to better energy management here.

5.     Mix up tasks.


If you can’t ditch or delegate some de-energising tasks, mix them up during your day with energising tasks – so you keep your energy high and productive. 



6.     Create a working environment that is conducive to presence and focus.

Intentionally remove external distractions when you’re working, whether it’s a pile of laundry or your social media notifications. 



7.     Practice meditation or mindfulness.


Meditation and mindfulness help you learn to improve your presence and focus.

8.     Remember that your physical energy impacts your cognitive and creative energy.

Eating, drinking, exercising and sleeping well are key factors that affect your cognitive and creative energy.

9.     Say NO more. 


Put healthy boundaries in place and learn to say no (in order to say yes to what matters most to you):



  • To other people’s requests that don’t move you towards your goals.
  • To over-working.
  • To distractions. Your cognitive and creative powers are drained by being spread too thinly and broadly. 
  • Block out clear chunks of time for deep focus, turn your phone on to Airplane, switch off all notifications, close tabs on your computer and set yourself up for optimum focus.Use a ‘pomodoro’ timer to work hard for sprints, then take a break and go again.



10.  Develop a work / life balance that feels satisfying and fulfilling for you.

Not only will this feel good, but it will also increase your performance and productivity when you at work. What we know from Positive Psychology is that the more positive emotions you experience – love, joy, inspiration, humour, serenity, interest etc – the more creatively you’ll think. Positive emotions broaden your perspective, increasing your cognitive abilities and your ability to think flexibly, creatively and innovatively. (Negative emotions do the opposite).

 

Woman stretching to the sky in big beautiful open field - to illustrate how looking after your whole wellbeing optimises your energy capacity as an entrepreneur

Conclusion

In this blog I shared with you three areas in which founders can manage their energy more efficiently. We looked at physical energy (vitality), emotional energy and finally creative energy and ways in which you can both nurture energy and conserve your energy, for a flourishing life and sustainable business success.
In this post, I’ve sought to share with you broad brushstrokes about how you can take more control over your energy. Having good wellbeing is the bedrock for all your energy, but that said, if you are more intentional about how and when you use it, you start creating more energy, rather than losing it.

Consider these questions:

  • In which areas of your life do you find yourself a) energised and in which areas are you b) losing energy?
  • What’s one small step you can take to do more of a) and less of b)?

I hope those prompts are helpful, do get in touch and let me know. If you find you’re still really struggling with your energy management and you’d like to go deeper on this work, book a call here – for a free 30 minute chat to talk through your challenges and explore whether I’d be a good fit to help you overcome them.  

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