Imagine this: You got up early in the morning and had been working all day long, you barely took any breaks, and somehow you still have a ton of work, but you have the feeling that you haven’t achieved anything.
You haven’t been procrastinating, you are sure of it. You have been working all day long, but no matter how many hours you put in, you are still falling behind. You feel exhausted, but you still have a long way ahead.
I felt that for a long time while I was developing my business. I still had this mentality that I had to work long hours, and since I was not commuting to any office, I should be able to remain productive at all times.
This expectation is toxic when you want to develop a healthy work routine. It’s not about how much time you spend in front of your computer; it’s all about how efficient that time is.
If you think about a regular 9-to-5 job, the usual expectation is that the employee will work during those 8 hours without any downtime, something somewhat impossible to achieve.
What happens is that a person will take breaks through the day, just to stretch or move around to ask someone a question, get a coffee or to fulfill any other need she has. It’s completely normal.
Those breaks are essential because remaining focused consumes a lot of energy.
Just think about the way you work. After a couple of hours of intense work, you start getting distracted, and it becomes more challenging to keep up with the task at hand.
It’s not because you are weak or trying to procrastinate. It’s because you have spent your energy and your mind needs a break. Depending on how much time you spent concentrated, you will need a long break.
That’s why my expectation was utterly insane. There is no way you can stay focus on your work all day long.
After crashing and burning a couple of times, I learned how I should stop managing my time and started focusing on my energy levels.
This simple concept makes things easier, especially if you are free from any strict schedule. By working for yourself, you have the opportunity to tailor your workload to your energy levels, that way you can tackle your most significant challenges when you have all the energy to do it.
And since nobody is looking over your shoulder, you can take breaks to avoid burnout. Because in the end, you didn’t launch your own business to be enslaved by it.
The key is to start measuring your energy levels and the efficiency of your work time.
Now, it’s crucial for you to understand that like any other personal development topic, your energy levels are unique to you. You can’t copy the strategies of others and hope they work for you. It’s easier to find your rhythm.
You can figure it out within a couple of days; you just need to grab pen and paper and write how you feel each 30-minutes. You don’t need to write full descriptions, just keep it short and to the point. Take note of how much energy you have (I used low, medium and high), and the overall feeling (Tired, energized, happy, mindful, etc.)
After you have enough data, you will start to see some patterns through the day. For example, My energy levels in the morning are insanely low, and I need to follow a full morning ritual to get my mind going. But once I reach the late morning into midday, I’m at the top of my energy, and I can tackle complex problems without any issue.
After lunch, my energy goes down again, so it’s a good time to tackle simple tasks to build momentum because in the late afternoon I’m ready to tackle another block of heavy work.
Armed with this knowledge I was able to create a schedule that works for me.
You may be different, perhaps you are a morning person or a night owl, but in the end what matters is that your work hours are as efficient as possible. No need to judge or think that it’s better to tackle everything at a certain hour.
Understanding this concept has allowed me to avoid burning out even when my workload increases. It makes me feel in control, and I bet you can feel the same way if you apply it.
Also, remember that you should do this exercise a couple of times a year. As you improve your habits, you will notice that your energy levels change, so it’s a good idea to stay vigilant in case you need to make any changes.