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Creating Successful Leaders

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

Everyone has a pulse…and I’m not talking about the beating of your heart. Your “second pulse” is the rhythm you experience throughout the day—your ebbs and flows of energy. Some people get a burst of energy in the morning; others experience this in the afternoon or evening. And then there are times when you feel depleted and distracted—stretches of time during the day when you’re not performing at your peak.

In his book When, researcher Daniel Pink calls these daily lulls your “troughs,” but you can also think of them as your valleys or low points. Since it’s difficult to do your best work during a trough, it can be beneficial to focus on relatively simple busy work during these periods. Save the high-engagement, creative, high-stakes work for the times when your energy is high and you’re feeling motivated.

Here are 4 ways to do that:

Pay Attention

For most people, a daily trough occurs in the afternoon. Our concentration begins to slip, we grow tired, and it’s difficult to think on our feet or be terribly creative. But everyone’s different! That’s why it’s important to pay attention and begin to understand when you’re energized, and when you’re simply not.

You may also notice that your energy tends to increase or decrease during certain days of the week (e.g., low-energy Mondays vs. productive Thursdays) or during certain events (e.g., at the beginning of a new project). If you’re feeling energized, take note! And if you’re not, pay attention to that, too.

Block Off High Energy Times

If possible, block off high energy times on your calendar so no one can bother you during your peak moments. This may require setting a few healthy boundaries and saying “no” to some things (that 8 a.m. meeting), but your efforts should quickly pay off. Additionally, if you get into a pattern of consistently blocking off a certain time period for deep, intense work, your brain will start to anticipate and recognize that this is a time for high productivity.

Batch Tasks

If you’re feeling energetic and creative, take advantage of the moment by batching several tasks that can be done in one sitting. Approaching several tasks at once gives you the opportunity to take advantage of the momentum of your high energy moments and finish more in less time. Plus, you don’t have to waste time switching gears and starting up again if you’re feeling tired or disinterested.

Break It Up

If you find that the task in front of you is too daunting or complicated, don’t be afraid to break it into smaller, manageable pieces. Doing so will enable you to take advantage of moments when your energy is high, without feeling overwhelmed. It’s also a great way to ensure that you’re still making forward progress on large tasks even when your energy is low.

It’s important to pay attention to your daily energy flows and use them to your advantage. If you’re feeling energized, embrace it and tackle tough projects. If you’re feeling drained, that’s OK too – use that time to check off items from your to-do list or catch up on emails. By acknowledging the natural rhythms of energy that come with the passing of time, you can make the most of your high energy moments and effectively manage the ones that are lower.



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