To build a business, everyone in the business needs to stay in action; in the words of Dory “Just keep swimming”. Simply by doing something every day, momentum will build in your business and growth of some kind is likely to occur. The key is not to let the momentum falter. Lack of energy is one of the key reasons business owners can stop, or just not get the right things done at the right time.
While exercise and diet play a part in how much energy we have, in talking to business owners, we find there are three other reasons for lack of zest:
- The task list (in their head …) feels impossible to complete;
- They are surrounded by people who take energy rather than give; or
- Their work space is not functional for the work that needs to be done.
One of the biggest reasons for inaction is the feeling of overwhelm. This feeling can zap energy faster than a marathon simply because your mind is taken up with all the things you think you have to do, and you haven’t put in place a process to prioritise and start.
Les Watson from Get More Time recommends writing it down – whatever it is. “It’s the incompletions that zap energy and lead to overwhelm. In my experience, just downloading them from your head onto paper frees up a huge amount of thinking space and gives you more energy.”
In his time management seminar, Les recommends the following steps to sorting out the incompletions and getting back on track:
- List your incompletions. In other words, list everything that is on your list / in your head in a data dump. Don’t try to sort it to begin with, as you’ll find that personal tasks will naturally mix with business things to do.
- Sort them into four categories: never going to do (seriously, you’re kidding yourself …); what can be done in 2 minutes or less; what is the single next action item; and projects.
- Look at your projects and ask, ‘what is the single next action item to progress this project?’ and add this task to the list.
- Look back over the list and categorise what must be done today is an ‘A’, and what can be done tomorrow as a ‘B’.
- Choose five ‘As’ to do today.
The key with this strategy is action, and to always keep your list up to date – write it all down, don’t keep stuff in your head!
There will always be people in your life that take more from you than you’re able to give. They do this by either being constantly negative about their own life (or life in general) or by criticing everything you do in a way that is not productive. And there is a difference between the people who have your best interests at heart and point out the risks of what you’re doing, versus the people who find complaint with most things in life, or choose words to keep you feeling small and dependent on them.
To maintain energy, it is important to limit your time with people who are negative as much as you can. Sometimes a conversation may be required to let them know their impact on you (they may not realise!). But don’t lessen the importance of the person who has your back. Jen Harwood in her book The Greatness Principle hypothesises that you need eight very different people in your immediate network to keep you on track, and the ‘Grounder’ and ‘Catalyst’ are two of these roles that can sometimes appear negative but are actually good for your business.
So, having sorted your list and improved the energy from the people around you, the next space to tackle is your work space. Clearing the clutter and organising the tasks on your list can help immensely with reenergising the space.
But sometimes even this is not enough. We often anchor particular emotions and energies in specific places, or areas with specific attributes: it can be beneficial not to try to do everything in your business in the same place. Google famously creates different spaces for their employees to work and meet, providing the opportunity to anchor creative thought in a different place to functional work or administration.
You may also have found that you are more motivated to perform different tasks at your desk at home versus your desk at work, or even the local café. Just being aware of the energy you’ve anchored in the places you work can be the key to knowing how to get your energy back.
So, if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed or just lethargic and haven’t been able to pin down the cause, have a think about your list, the people around you and the space you work in. The solution could be simpler than taking two weeks off!
First published in Business Life, Vol 1, No 6, July 2016