Ask any busy person what they need and most will respond with “MORE TIME”. More time to work, more time at home, more time to relax. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day for all of the things we need or want to do. While committing more time to a job or a project might seem like the solution to your stress, it is important to remember that time is a finite resource. By spending more time on something that stresses you out, you are stealing hours from other activities that are important to your health and wellbeing.

Energy is a different story. Energy comes from four main wellsprings in human beings: the body, emotions, mind, and spirit. Learning how to manage your energy will help you to use your time more effectively and reduce the pressure of to-do lists and deadlines.

The Body: Physical Energy

Cultivating physical energy requires you to develop healthy habits surrounding nutrition, exercise, sleep, and rest. Significant lack in any of those areas can impact your basic energy levels, as well as your ability to manage emotions and focus your attention.

Identify rituals that will help you with the process of building and renewing your physical energy. These rituals could include:

  • walking, jogging or running
  • a yoga or gym routine that you enjoy
  • cooking meals that you can love to make (and to eat!)
  • finding a restaurant you love with a relaxing atmosphere and healthy food
  • a bedtime routine to help you wind down
  • a relaxation technique that you can employ quickly and in public when needed (such as a breathing or visualization technique that works for you)

The Emotions: Quality of Energy

The ability to manage your emotions is an important skill, and can improve the quality of the energy you bring to your work regardless of the external pressures you face. To do this, try to check in with yourself at various points in your day – how are you feeling? How is that affecting your ability to remain present or work? What can you do to help yourself navigate or process what you are feeling? If we routinely check in throughout the day, we are better able to stay on top of emotions that normally would affect the rest of our day.

You can also cultivate positive energy by learning to change the stories you tell yourself about the events of your day. Develop more hopeful stories, and that positivity will help you keep negative emotions in check.

The Mind: Focus of Energy

Many view multitasking as a necessity in the face of all the demands we juggle, but it actually undermines productivity. Think about what multitasking requires of us – a temporary shift in attention from one task to another. Multitasking is just a glorified version of yielding to distractions, and distractions are costly. It’s far more efficient to focus your full attention on one task for 90 to 120 minutes, take a true break, and then devote the same attention to your next task.

The Human Spirit: Energy of Meaning and Purpose

We tap into the energy of the human spirit when our activities are consistent with what we value most and with what gives us a sense of meaning or purpose. If what you are doing really matters to you, you are more likely to radiate positive energy and enjoy yourself.

To access the energy of the human spirit, you need to clarify your priorities and establish accompanying rituals in three categories

  1. Doing what you do best and enjoy most.
  2. Consciously allocating time and energy to the areas of your life—work, family, health, service to others—that you deem most important.
  3. Living your core values in your daily behaviours.



Kelly McDonnell-Arnold, MA, MBA, RSW