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How to manage your energy for better productivity when working from home

Young woman working at home looking burnt out and stressed

Working from home has become the norm for many individuals, and so has the tendency to work longer hours, taking on more weekend work and a greater workload. It’s no surprise then, that employee burnout has increasingly worsened over the course of the pandemic, with 52% of employees feeling burnt out. 

So, what’s the best way to stay productive and get through your to-do list without burning out completely? While many people believe it’s about time management, scheduling every minute of free time to increase your productivity doesn’t take into consideration the need to rest and recharge. In fact, without effectively managing your energy levels, working longer hours may only lead to less engagement, decreased focus and more mistakes.

In this way, it’s important for individuals to become aware of, and take responsibility for, their own energy levels. This includes understanding how work output impacts energy levels and how to incorporate strategies into your day that help you recharge your energy levels, so that you are more productive with your time. And no, unfortunately drinking another three cups of coffee doesn’t cut it!

 

Determine what your “peak performance” times are

Energy management begins with determining the hours in a day where you are most productive, so that you can modify your activity accordingly. Some of us are night owls and have the most energy later in the day, while others find they are most productive at 8am. Regardless of the time, it’s important to be aware of your energy peaks.

If you are unsure, monitor how you feel at different points of the day to gain better insight. Take note of your working habits for a week and list down the times when you managed to complete the most work. Also take note of how you feel during those hours – do you feel energised or fatigued? This will help you find a pattern of your peak performance times and the hours in which you are most productive.

 

Block out those high energy hours

Once you’re aware of your peak performance times, you can then block them out in your calendar and use these high energy hours for priority tasks or those requiring more mental energy and focus. You can then work on less complex or brain resting activities, such as cleaning up your inbox, replying to emails, touching base with clients or colleagues, either before or after these peak performance times. Not everyone can work at maximum energy levels all the time, so it’s important to balance intense productivity with slower, brain resting activities or breaks.

While you may not be able to utilise this strategy every day depending on your role, aim to structure your days around peak performance as much as possible.

 

Focus on one task at a time

When you have many demands to manage, we tend to believe that multitasking is often thought of as the best way to tackle multiple tasks, however, research suggests that shifting between tasks can create brief mental blocks that can cost as much as 40 percent of someone’s productive time.  

This temporary shift in attention from one task to another also switches our focus, which can then cause a drop in energy levels. If possible, try to fully focus for 60 to 120 minutes depending on the task or project, then take a break, and then focus on the next activity. This will help you be more productive while also maintaining your output levels.

 

Notice your own thoughts and emotions

Noticing and taking control of your emotions can also improve the quality of your energy. Firstly, become aware of how you feel during various points of the workday and how these feelings impact your productivity. The majority of people tend to perform their best when feeling positive, with a study finding that happiness led to a 12 percent boost in productivity while unhappy workers were 10 percent less productive.

Unfortunately, it can be hard for individuals to sustain positive emotions without adequate rest and recovery. Many of us will experience high amounts of pressure and demands, as well as unexpected challenges throughout the day. These pressures tend to cause stress and anxiety, which trigger negative emotions and a drop in energy.

If you learn to recognise what type of events trigger these emotions, you can learn to implement strategies to minimise such instances. Activities such as deep breathing, or getting away from your desk for a walk can be helpful. Being aware of your own emotions and how they impact on your energy levels, will allow you to be more productive.

 

Schedule in time for rest and recovery

To maintain your energy levels throughout the day, you need to implement sustainable boundaries. Indeed, there may be days when back-to-back meetings are necessary, or when you need to complete consecutive jobs, but this isn’t sustainable for most people.

If possible, consider taking 30 minutes on your lunch break to stop working, or two breaks of 15 minutes during the day. This gives you sufficient time to recover your energy levels, allowing you to be more productive when you return to your desk.

Not only is it important to schedule in time for recovery during your workday, but it is just as important to rest and recover outside your work hours. This includes getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, exercising, eating nutritious foods and choosing activities that are less stimulating on your brain. All these actions will help to maximise your body’s repair and help you perform at your best.

 

By managing your energy instead of your time, you will not only become more productive, but also more fulfilled at work. If you’re looking for work in one of our specialist fields, view our current available jobs or contact us today.

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