Today I want to talk about how you can increase your mental energy, no coffee required!
This is an important topic; in a recent survey, 78% of you scored ‘poor’ or ‘below average’ in terms of your mental energy. It’s also something that I hear in my work with thousands of people; “I’m exhausted from juggling work, family and life”, “I’m depleted and lacking balance”, “It’s like I’m on a hamster wheel and can’t get off”.
In this article, we delve into some easy tips to increase mental energy both at home and in the workplace to stimulate your brain, improve your health and wellbeing and support employees wellbeing in your organisation.
Taking care of your mental health: meditate, mindfulness and get enough sleep
In order to boost your energy levels at work, it’s important to first evaluate the decisions you make outside of office hours that impact your overall health and wellbeing.
Further reading: Why empathy is important at work
People often tell me that they spend all day stressed, rushing from meeting to meeting, and even though they feel absolutely drained by 5pm, they didn’t get a whole lot done. Does this sound like you?
I have a quick self-assessment that you can do to test your mental energy levels right now:
• Do you have difficulty focusing on one thing at a time?
• Are you easily distracted by emails, phone calls, and colleagues?
• Do you find yourself reacting to immediate crises and demands rather than activities with longer term value and high leverage?
• Do you feel like you don’t take enough time for reflection, strategising, and creative thinking?
• Do you regularly work in the evenings or on the weekend and/or almost never take an email-free vacation?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, it’s likely that you’re suffering from low levels of mental energy. Mental energy is a big driver of your overall energy, such as physical energy, but it’s also linked to productivity, concentration, stronger decision-making and also confidence and happiness.
Steps to take at home
Taking steps to boost your energy at home and putting strategies in place is a great way to start boosting your overall energy. It can feel frustrating when people tell you to drink less caffeine and more water, exercise regularly and get enough sleep. These are all things we know that are good for us but sometimes mental challenges are just too overwhelming and they don’t get done. I recommend taking it step by step and attempting to introduce healthy habits slowly so it’s sustainable. It can be as simple as finding the time to meditate once a week for five minutes, replacing 1 cup of coffee with a glass of water and taking time regularly, to check in with your mind and body. All of these small things can go a long way to help you with your health and wellness.
As you can see, low mental energy can really impact your ability to function and experience enjoyment at work and home. So let’s jump into some tips for how you can increase your mental energy and the mental energy of your team.
How to boost and increase your mental energy levels at work
Giving your energy a boost at home is important, but it’s also critical that managers and employees work together to manage it in the workplace too. Discover 4 strategies organisations can use to help their employees improve mental energy, recharge and work effectively throughout the day.
Flexible working arrangements
Taking up flexible working arrangements is about being able to work in an environment that is conducive to concentration and productivity. Over the last few years there’s been a surge of open plan workspaces and while these can be great for connection and collaboration, they can lead to poor focus. If you’re deep in thought and get interrupted, it can take 20 minutes for you to get back into that state of concentration, this can actually increase the time it takes to complete a task by 25%. So it’s no wonder we often get to the end of the day and feel like we’ve hardly achieved anything! The first tip is to seek flexible working arrangements so that you can get into that state of deep focus and productivity, and make sure that you make these available to your team.
Clarify your essential intent
This tip comes from the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown (which we highly recommend!). What we need to do as businesses, teams and individuals, is to focus on no more than two or three things at a time. This is about getting focused on the core things that you want to achieve and not spreading yourself too thin across a huge list of priorities. By introducing this concept to your team, it allows them to focus their energy on the most important priorities, and empowers them to take a really strategic approach to their work.
Hold each other accountable for the language used
The language that we use day-to-day can have a massive drain on our mental energy. Certain words and phrases can create an emotional reaction in our bodies. So often when you ask people how they are, they’ll respond “so busy!” or “drowning in work” or “I don’t have time to catch a breath”, and this language makes us feel stressed and under pressure, which drains our mental energy. So next time you find those words on the tip of your tongue, reframe them in a positive way, for example: “I’m getting a lot done” or “I feel like I’m really on track”.
Further reading: How to apply positive psychology at work
Be more conscious of your personal productivity hygiene
This is about having discipline when it comes to how often you check your email, use your phone, and answer calls while you’re focusing on work. As I mentioned above, these distractions can increase the time it takes to complete a task by 25%! The human brain is not wired to multitask and it takes a lot of mental energy to continuously switch gears. Technology definitely has something to answer for when it comes to our lack of mental energy! So my advice is:
• Turn off notifications on your phone and/or smart watch during work hours so you’re not constantly distracted by messages and apps.
• Check your email only at set times each day, say 9am and 4pm. Outside these times, close emails on your computer.
• Screen your calls and only answer if you think it might be urgent.
At Inkling, if we need to knuckle down and focus, we send an email to the team letting them know that we’re going offline for the day/X number of hours, and to call if it’s urgent. That way people are less likely to distract you with non-urgent calls and are aware that you’re not going to be answering emails or texts.
We’ve found implementing these tips to really increase our ability to focus and be more productive, and bonus – not feel like you’ve been on a hamster wheel all day!
If you want to learn more about boosting energy levels and productivity on your team, get in touch with us to discover our DEIB, Leadership and Capability Development solutions.