Nothing is more exhausting that operating outside of your strengths.
While much of the work we do is, and should be, challenging – regularly engaging in activities that drain your energy can distract you from your primary focus and ultimately sabotage your effectiveness and success.
When you are able to identify the activities and tasks that drain your energy on a regular basis, you’re able to design a work experience that is ultimately more enjoyable, more effective, and far more successful.
Here are 6 steps that will help you identify the activities that are draining your energy, and help you outline a plan for how to handle them.
Step 1: Identify what energizes you
Start by creating a list of the work activities that you look forward to doing each day, or each week.
Think about the things that cause you forget to look up at the clock. For example, what were you doing the last time you forgot to eat lunch because you were so “into” your work?
Step 2: Identify your energy zappers
Create a separate list that identifies activities that you feel “zap” your energy. Include tasks and situations that demotivate you and drain your energy or excitement for the day.
Think back to what your calendar might look like on a day you dreaded heading off to work. What were the items on the schedule that zapped your energy that day? Put them on this list.
Step 3: Find the root of your energy zappers
Now that you have a list of activities that zap your energy, review this list and identify the root of each of these frustrations.
For example, did you list a meeting with a particular person or client? If so, what is it that you’re discussing or doing in that meeting? Don’t limit your thinking to just the event itself – think about what it is you’re dealing with and consider if that is the thing zapping your energy.
It may not be the meeting with your boss that zaps your energy, but rather the fact that you are discussing how to write an S.O.P. (Standard Operating Procedure) around “TPS Reports”. If that’s the case, I’d suggest you consider if “identifying processes and procedures” is an energy zapper for you.
Step 4: Identify actions to take next
We are all subject to some level of energy zapping in our lives, but it’s always best to try and intentionally limit the zappers as much as possible. With that in mind, make another list of possible resources that you can offload your energy zappers to. Think about:
- Coworkers. We are all different. You likely have coworkers or colleagues that enjoy (and even excel in) areas that zap your energy. Consider enlisting them as a resource might be a good solution.
- Virtual Assistants. Consider hiring a Virtual Assistant. You can often find a very affordable and capable person who can help you for as little as five hours per week. I recommend EAhelp for VA support. They are based in Atlanta, but only hire within the US, so you don’t have to deal with communication barriers that exist with international VA’s.
- Existing Staff. If you already have a team of people on staff, encourage your team to complete this exercise as well. Their answers to “Step 1: Identify the activities that energize you” will give you insight as to who might be well suited to offload / delegate some of your energy zappers to.
Step 5: Design an ideal week
What does your ideal week look like? In a perfect world, what would be on your schedule? What would you do? What meetings would you attend? Outline your ideal week to ensure you get to do the activities that give you energy and don’t get stuck doing just the things that zap you.
For example, think about what does your day’s calendar look like on a day you wake up excited to head off to work. Make sure you schedule time for these items on your “ideal calendar”.
Step 6: Review and reassess
Set aside a moment at the end of each day to “color your day.” Was it a green day (good), a yellow day (stretching or stressful), or a red day (out of control / unpleasant). Once you’ve done this for a week or two, you’ll have a pattern established and will be able to start see if the process is working. Be sure to review these patterns on a monthly – or at the very least, quarterly basis – then adjust the items on your schedule, as needed.
If you just want more insight into your strengths – consider taking the Gallup Strengths Assessment (these are not affiliate links – I have just found them to be so useful I wanted to share). There are two options:
Option 1: Top 5 Strengths
Learn how your “signature strengths” help you excel, and begin your path to better performance and higher engagement. Intended as an introduction to strengths, this solution is ideal for people who want a quick, focused approach to strengths-based development. Cost is $9.99
Option 2: Complete Strengths Profile
Take the Strengths Finder assessment and reveal your complete strengths profile, including the relative dominance of each of your 34 strengths. Understand how to maximize your effectiveness, identify strengths in others, and achieve success. This is the recommended solution for people who want a comprehensive strengths-based product. Cost is $89.00
Once you’ve taken this assessment, if you want or need help with next steps please let me know.
Question: What things are zapping your energy, and what do you plan to do about it?