Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time
The advancements in the science of human energy are to a point where individuals, teams, and whole companies can, with some specific interventions, significantly increase their capacity to get things done, reduce stress and support themselves and the people around them.
Working with business dads, it is easy to see how managing their time is challenging. Stuart is a high performing 42 years business owner, growing his business to a high 6-figure turnover, 15 headcount, married with two children under ten.
When we met before Christmas 2022, he worked, on average, 14 hours per day; he was exhausted all the time. When not working on the business, he could not engage with his children and wife. As I have mentioned in another article, this creates tremendous guilt. Guilt is one of the most powerful emotions and can create significant problems.
Stuart was unable to sleep well, had no time to move, and was not fuelling himself for performance and trying to complete hundreds of tasks every day.
You might undoubtedly read that and think this is not uncommon in any work. As we all know, when the pressure comes on at work, the first way to react is to try to do more, longer hours, less sleep, and less time for others. Which inevitably takes a toll on us physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Slowly this leads to declining levels of engagement, increasing levels of distraction, lack of purpose and creating habits not aligned with their values. I have worked with thousands of high-performers in both professional sports and business. The consistency of business dads tells me that they are trying to do more and more. Understand that burnout can happen, and they are walking this fine line.
The biggest problem is that time is a finite resource. Everyone has 24 hours a day, 60 minutes an hour; we can not change that. But energy is different; we can have more power, and we can have more fuel in the tank.
Where does energy come from?
Energy for human beings comes from the body, mind, emotions and spirit. I bet that there is at least one you did not think about.
Energy is defined as the capacity to work.
And therefore, it can be increased and released by developing consistent actions and behaviours to enable us to do more with less.
We need to start shifting from getting more and more out of ourselves and investing in understanding energy management.
How to increase that energy, what of the four ways we can do that, what takes energy away from us, and how can we renew that energy?
If we now go back to Stuart are work together, it was clear that he needed to create consistent actions to establish ways to manage his energy better and ultimately achieve the success that he wanted.
We divided each of the four areas into energy and built sustainable energy methods.
The Body – Business Dads Energy
The body is the keystone to energy. Suppose you think about how the demands on the human body have changed in the last hundred years. In that case, it is easy to see why there is inadequate nutrition, movement, sleep, and rest in most people, leading to lower base levels of energy in everyone. And when we add this to a lack of ability to focus, increased demand in our attention and inability to manage emotions, we can see a huge challenge.
Over the first few sessions with Stuart, we discuss all his current actions around his body. Stuart had already completed our performance test, enabling us to structure conversations.
We discussed the foundations of well-being and what we could do to support his energy in each area. The foundations are as follows.
- Cognitive Performance
- Mental Tolerance
We looked at each of the foundations and focused on one thing in each; we made that our goal to do and hold each other accountable. Take a read of my article about high-performer and what they do to support their energy here.
He developed the following.
Pre bed routine
Many business dads understand the importance of a pre-bed routine for their children but don’t understand that a pre-bed routine is just as important to them. We as adults need to slow down our brain waves; we cannot go from 100 mph to 0 in a complete stop, and we need time and the right environment to support that change. Stuart set out 45 mins before bed he completed each night, regardless of whether it was a weekday or weekend. Remember that stress is stress, can we can see from the image below. Our reaction to stress is similar, whether emotional, physical, mental or spirital.
A 10 min walk at the end of the day
We set up a false commute. This enables him to feed his body with movement, decompress from the day, review and reflect on the day and ultimately switch to being a dad. Between stimulus and response, there is time; usually, the longer the time between each, the better answer. If we go straight from one role to the next, we can carry over stress. In addition, this time gave Stuart some mental and emotional space to become creative and solve problems. This is due to the fact that when we walk, we down actively think, allowing different parts of the brain to become more dominant and therefore allow big-picture thinking and pattern recognition.
A green smoothie in the morning
Stuart’s diet was not bad, but we needed to increase the amount of veg. Having a smoothie in the morning enabled him to get 2-3 fistfuls of veg in one hit. As we were aiming for 6-8 per day, missing veg in his first meal created a challenge later in the day.
Time blocking 60 mins during the day for business development
We created blocks of time during the day where he focused on the most critical tasks. After these blocks, we built short rest periods. The value of short rest periods is grounded in our physiology. We have cycles typically 90-120 mins in duration, called “Ultradian rhythms”. During these cycles, our bodies slowly move from a high to low-energy state, and the body requires recovery. Why do you think most sporting teams or films last 90 -120 minutes in duration?
An important point for this with Stuart was to create self-awareness of these dips; like most business dads, he was great at pushing through. But by his understanding of signals such as physical restlessness, yawning, hunger, and difficulty concentrating, he required a break.
2 min breathing exercise before the shower
I would be very surprised if you have yet to hear of breathwork. Breathwork is a great tool to support energy and stress levels and ultimately helps you set the state that you want to be in. With Stuart, he felt that we were trying to add too much more into his day, so we discussed things that he already did daily. We add a simple two-minute breathwork practice before his shower. You are enabling him to feel and connect with what is happening inside.
After the ten weeks pathway, he felt more alive, less stressed, more engaged with his children and better self-awareness of energy levels. This was all backup but first beat lifestyle data using heart rate. Here below you can see what data we can use from first beat to support the discussions we can have around habit change.
The Emotion – Business Dads Energy
Let’s not talk about emotions, we are men, and we don’t do that, and if we do, it is generally after a few pints. Emotions hold vast amounts of energy, both positively and negatively. Of course, as dads and business leaders, we need to control our emotions. When discussing with Stuart, this was not an area he had explored. The first step was creating self-awareness of emotions and what he was truly feeling. The important point is that our physiology matches our psychology and verses. With Stuart, we started to discuss different areas, asking lots of questions and asking him to go away at really thinking about this. Create space and time to understand where these emotions were coming from.
If we truly want to become fantastic business dads, we must do the hard work. Ask why we are so driven, what has happened to us in the past that we still hold on to, and what actions I am currently doing that support me.
The challenge with emotions is that we can be confronted with relentless demands from others and that having your own business or a high-profile role can be a roller-coaster. It is easy to split into our sympathetic nervous system or fight-or-flight mode. If we do this can cause significant issues with our health and the relationships that we have with substantial people around us.
With Stuart, this is where the power of breathwork came in; I asked him as he felt these emotions to do the simple two minutes of breathing. He was able to reset and understand different situations.
The Mind – Business Dads Energy
Business dads are cognitive athletes; their mind is the number one asset to support success in the business and at home. Because everyone wants your attention, like me writing this, it has created an environment of distraction and task switching. These switches significantly affect the cognitive load and the feeling of achievement by the end of the day. Encouraging Stuart to complete his 60 minutes of focused work was vital for success and reducing task switching.
Focus is a skill that needs to be developed, and creating the right environment is essential. Stuart found that days in the office were necessary to see his team and develop positive relationships, but he needed help to focus from a getting things done standpoint.
The Spirit – Business Dads Energy
When we talk about spirit, we do not mean talking about gods, I am talking about your vision, what you value most and what gives you a sense of purpose. If these three areas are on point, the business dads I work with feel the more positive energy, focus better, and demonstrate tremendous perseverance (as a dad and business leader).
The challenge is that we need to think about these three areas due to high demands and the fast pace of business. We understand the business inside out and know our numbers, but do we know ourselves?
Getting Stuart to ask himself these questions and have active discussions enabled him to think about the following:
- What impact do I want to make?
- How do I want my children to remember me?
- How enjoyable is life?
These answers lead him to create a clear vision, understand his values and develop his purpose.
Just think now about what the benefits of getting these three areas aligned would achieve for other business dads.
- Improved relationships
- Improved decision making
- Increase performance at home and in the office
Accessing the energy in spirit can be fantastic for business dads; we must be open-minded. We need to push ourselves to step away from the normal. Step away from the things and people that are not helping us be the dad and business leaders that we want.
I want to thank Stuart for his hard work and open-mindedness to improve. If you are a business dad struggling there is always help to support you. My passion is helping business dads define their success and create the energy to deliver that success to themselves and the people around them. If you are interested take a look at the pathway here.