One evening recently, after a late Board meeting, I realised I was almost too tired to drive home. We’d made some positive decisions and got some action plans in place, which was good, but it took us a long time to do it, which wasn’t so good.
Before I turned the ignition key, I took the time to do one thing – call my husband, and talk to him for a few minutes about his day. He told me a silly joke, and made me laugh before we hung up. That little call gave me the energy to drive home. We all have them, right – those little hacks that give us that extra burst of energy when we need them?
But those hacks only give you a short term boost. In order to handle the multiple calls we all have on our time, as leaders and as people, we need to put the basic building blocks in place to ensure sustainable energy and focus, day in and day out.
Let me share what I am trying to do to achieve this:
- Sleep well: This is something I’ve had some struggles with over the years, and being able to sleep through the night has made a big difference to my wellbeing. Some simple tricks really helped me with this – turning off all electronics at least half an hour before bed, reading a real book in the last 30 minutes of my day and switching the lights off at the same time every night all help me enjoy a good night’s sleep, and get out of bed the next day.
- Move often: In this office-bound world so many of us live in these days, a whole day can easily pass where I barely stand up from 9 to 5. My top tip is to set an alarm to move, at least every couple of hours. Each time mine goes off, I get up to fill my water bottle, chat to a team member, or walk outside for a minute or two. That, plus planned exercise appointments (walking, the gym, a yoga class) and taking the stairs at work makes a big difference.
- Eat real food: You know that 3.30pm slump, when all you can do is reach for a cup of coffee or bar of chocolate? I have found that so much of that is to do with the kind of food I eat. One thing I’ve started doing recently is making a big vegetarian frittata each weekend – that way, I have a healthy, easy breakfast ready for me to eat every morning, that I don’t have to think about. And, if I want to, I can have it for dinner too after a long day!
- Be kind to myself: There are some things I know energise me and fill me with joy – for example, doing some creative writing, connecting to a close friend, listening to a beautiful piece of music, being outside in nature. I’ve been experimenting with an app that lists out five of the things I know make my life more joyful, and how often I want to do them. It then reminds me when I fall behind, so I can make plans to bring them back into my life.
“Love yourself first, and everything else falls in line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” – Lucille Ball
Life and leadership can be tough, no two ways about it. How do you keep up the energy, focus and drive to handle what comes your way and do what needs to be done, both at work and outside work?
Disclaimer: This article contains general information. Before you make any financial or investment decision you should seek professional advice to take into account your individual objectives, financial situation and individual needs.