Most of us respond to rising demands in the workplace by putting in longer hours, which inevitably take a toll on us physically, mentally, and emotionally. That leads to declining levels of engagement, increasing levels of distraction, high turnover rates, and soaring medical costs among employees.

The core problem with working longer hours is that time is a finite resource. Energy is a different story. Defined in physics as the capacity to work, energy comes from four main wellsprings in human beings: the body, emotions, mind, and spirit. In each, energy can be systematically expanded and regularly renewed by establishing specific rituals – behaviours that are intentionally practiced and precisely scheduled, with the goal of making them unconscious and automatic as quickly as possible.

By focusing on managing our energy level rather than trying to cram 48 hours into a single day, we not only become more efficient, but also have energy left for our private lives.

Unfortunately, our energy reserves are not unlimited, and we tend to expend more energy per day than we recover, which eventually results in burnout.

In fact, recovery is an integral part of sustaining high levels of energy thus high performance. Indeed, all organisms must recharge their batteries by following life-sustaining rhythms, i.e., patterns of behaviour that help them stay alive and kicking. For humans, this includes the need to rest every 90 to 120 minutes.

Whenever we are struggling under more workload, the first thing is to stop what we’re doing and think about a better way to manage our energy, not to add more work hours to our days.

Most of us are chasing the wrong resource: hours in the day. Instead, we should focus on something entirely different: our energy.

Our energy can be broken down in 4 different elements:
Your physical energy – how healthy are you?
Your emotional energy – how happy are you?
Your mental energy – how well can you focus on something?
Your spiritual energy – why are you doing all of this? What is your purpose?

Your physical energy comes first, because it is naturally our base and foundation for any other energy or focus we want to develop. Enhance your physical and social well-being to allow you to operate at full potential.

How to tap into emotional energy and use it to your advantage.
Your emotional energy is immense and dynamic, so like any energy force it can be constructive and destructive at the same time. If we learn to recognise it we can put it to good use, and even improve our relationships. Emotions dictate how we think, behave and make decisions, which means they help us survive and thrive. Emotions can be short-lived but they often have long-lasting effects or bring undesirable consequences, especially in the case of anger or aggression. Each of us has a limited amount of emotional energy that we can give away without receiving some positive energy in return. Make a commitment to yourself to do something to replenish your positive energy – every day.

Refresh your mind-set to boost your mental energy.
Re-programme your mind-set to build a positive and productive routine that puts the lethargy of winter firmly behind you! If you focus and organise your mind you can effectively ease your workload, and feel less guilty about making time to relax. The mind has a huge effect on our physical energy, willpower and motivation; when you’re feeling low you are also more likely to feel physically weak. If simply getting through the day is starting to feel like a chore, boost your mental energies using the power of positive thinking. Each time you feel stressed, list five things you are grateful for. Simply thinking about things you are grateful for reminds you of what’s important. Laughter is also a proven stress buster – so call a friend you can laugh with, or watch a silly YouTube video. Allocate time for loved friends and family, and surround yourself with positive and optimistic people to boost your own positivity levels.

The power of purpose.
People need purpose. Without it, we are aimless and unmotivated, and likely unhappy. On a personal level, the search for purpose can be profound and life changing. In the workplace, purpose may not be life changing, but it certainly provides employees with the direction and motivation they need to be most effective. At its most basic level, the need for purpose reveals itself on a daily basis when people ask questions such as ‘What’s the point?’ and ‘Why are we doing this?’ Critical thinkers are constantly testing directives against some standard of reasonableness to make sure they can “get behind them” and execute.

Increasingly, the business world has embraced the need to have a purpose, to engage employees, make acclaimed marketing and drive business results.

While it can be easy to focus on pay and perks or goal-setting sessions to motivate employees, driving people toward doing their best work requires something much deeper. For employees to find a real sense of passion and purpose, they need to be doing work that’s personally meaningful to them.

The question is: How do you help them find meaning?
The challenge, is to find a way to express our deepest values during the normal working day. Our values provide the framework for how we would like to behave. If you want to find out what your personal values are, ask yourself what matters most to you. Another strategy is to reflect on someone you deeply respect and ask yourself: What are the qualities you most admire about him or her? Those can be your values.

Be more productive by accepting your limitations.
It can be hard to accept your limitations, draw lines and form boundaries for yourself. For those who are struggling to accept their limits in life, there may be a constant struggle between what is and what is wanted; not accepting your limits can be emotionally draining. Accepting your limits and not trying or giving up are two entirely different things. While the first refers to accepting the realities of a situation, the second refers to resignation. Accepting reality, and embracing yourself with all of your limitations, is key to good health and a positive outlook on life.

Energy building rituals.
The working world is getting more and more demanding. In difficult economic times, the employee is asked to give more and increase their productivity. If not managed properly, this can add a significant amount of additional stress. To increase productivity, you often need to increase your energy levels. When you find yourself short on energy, you may resort to quick fix measures which give you an instant boost. Stress causes enough damage to your health without resorting to unhealthy measures to try and overcome it. The answer is building rituals.

By adjusting your personal eating, sleeping and exercise patterns, you can create increased, reliable and sustainable energy levels which will improve your performance and productivity. And, unlike the quick-fix solutions, these methods won’t damage your health; they will boost it.

In sum…
In order to become fully engaged in whatever you do and perform at your absolute peak, you must first actively build your energy capacity in all dimensions of life – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually – and manage this energy intelligently.