Energy conservation is the foundation of energy independence. – Tom Allen
I’m a little low on energy today. Maybe it’s a biorhythm thing – the charts that I look at when I think about this sort of thing show everything at a low. Maybe biorhythms don’t mean anything but electric circuits do and I think they have something useful to tell us about living well.
Tom Allen’s quote has to do with energy, power, the stuff that comes out of a generator. But it could be applied just as well to whatever else you do. I’m starting to think that life is a zero sum game, where every unit of energy you give someone else is a unit of energy you don’t have for yourself. And that makes managing your energy really quite an important thing to get your head around.
For example, your creative energy can be used to work on your projects or work on your employer’s projects. If you use them to work on “work” projects you just won’t have enough energy left to do your own stuff. How many graphic designers go home and paint for the fun of it? How many chefs cook? How many writers write? I suspect those who do are careful not to give their all work, saving some energy, conserving it, so that they have some left when they get home and want to do a bit more.
I think that’s what’s happening today. I’ve spent a long time on a particular project and it’s just drained the energy I have left over. So, you might say, that’s ok. Take the day off. No one will notice if you don’t do what you want to do because that’s what you want to do. But that’s a dangerous argument, once you take a day off, it’s easy to take another day and then another one and before you know it a few years have passed and you don’t feel like you can do anything any more.
So, even if you’re tired you need to do the work. You need to get on and put something out that’s what you want to do. And that’s where the way to break out of a zero-sum game lies. It lies in routine and leverage.
First – you can keep going with muscle memory, just momentum from routine and the previous day’s work can keep you going even when you’re running on empty. Sort of like a flywheel that stores just enough to get you over the hump.
The second is to use leverage. Tools that help you do more quickly. Tools are amazing and if you get your toolkit working for you it’s going to help you out most during those times when you have little left to give. The tools will look after you if you look after them.
And then you’ll have another day behind you and time to recharge and start again.