When you need more energy…fast

photo-82Today is a bit of a low energy day for me. I was broadcasting live all day yesterday from Creative Live’s studios in San Francisco. Speaking for 6 hours is a lot of time! Then we had a short reception after and I went out for dinner with a few people. Then I caught the red-eye back to Philly. While I managed to nap this morning (the upside of self-employment) I’m still feeling like, oh, I gave six hours of speeches yesterday and then was up all night.

Managing energy is just as important as managing time. I have time today to do various projects. I just don’t feel like doing various projects. Some days, you have to be realistic about your expectations. But if you do need energy, fast, it turns out that there are ways to boost zest that have fairly predictable, positive results.

I interviewed two researchers from Wellness & Prevention (a Johnson & Johnson company) last week about a white paper they wrote on “Microbursts.” These are short duration (5 minute) activities that have a measurably positive impact on energy. I wrote about the research for Fast Company (again, the headlines! “Want more energy? Skip the coffee and call your mom instead“).

The baseline energy booster is caffeine. People who’d had a coffee in the previous 30 minutes reported energy levels of 6.8 on a 1 to 10 point scale. People who’d connected with a loved one pegged themselves at a 7. Exercise was even better. Just getting up and walking up and down the stairs can raise your energy levels for an hour or more. Indeed, one of the researchers speculated that when you do go grab a coffee, it’s the action of getting up to go get it that’s as much responsible for the energy boost as the drink itself.

So I just went outside and picked a few tomatoes (finally, we are getting tomatoes!) with my 4-year-old. That gave me enough energy to power through this blog post. But frankly, I think that’s all I’ve got in me right now.

How do you boost your energy levels during the day?

In other news: I had a column in USA Today yesterday called Common Core turns focus to teacher training. The coming alignment of state standards to the (usually more rigorous) Common Core is going to be a fascinating development over the next few years. While there’s lots to quibble with about testing, I do think that aiming for a high standard is not a bad idea. I hope that states will have the guts to weather the inevitable drop in proficiency rates.

Chilling on the studio roof deck in San Francisco

15 thoughts on “When you need more energy…fast

  1. I caught parts of the webcast yesterday and it was great! I was only bummed that I wasn’t able to hear more of it – my biggest chunk of time kid- and distraction-free was while you guys were on a lunch break, I think.

    Looks like they’re rebroadcasting today so I’m catching more while the kiddos nap. I’m enjoying it.

    My energy secret is actually eating a strict Paleo diet, which is incredibly hard for me to do. But when I give up grains and dairy, I feel amazing. Sounds hokey and I was shocked to find it to work for me.

    I can’t believe you did the cross country trip in a day! Wow.

    1. @ARC – well, two days, but yes. I got up at 5 and took a 7:40 flight to San Fran one day, did pre-production meetings then the next day recorded and took the red eye home! Whole thing was about 48 hours. Thanks for watching it!

      I’ve never been able to pull off the low-carb thing. I probably should eat fewer carbs, but I like them 😉

      1. Yeah, it’s not technically low carb because you can have sweet potatoes and fruit, but I definitely miss bread and cookies. WHich is why it’s incredibly hard for me to stick to it 😛

  2. Perfect post to read today– I had 4.5 hours of sleep last night (not the norm) and taught/lectured for 4 hours today. I decided to shut my office door 10 minutes before class and pull up high energy videos on youtube–the new Moby song and another new song called “pumpin’ blood”. It totally worked.

    1. @liz- wow, 4 hours of lectures is intense. I did 6 yesterday with my workshop, and I was pretty much on the floor afterwards…

  3. I am the queen of the power nap. One of many positive traits I inherited from my mother, I am talented to be able to sleep virtually anywhere, when I decided I need it. If I can lay down for 20 minutes, I feel renewed and am assured of several good hours of far increased productivity. There is a lot of research ont the power and benefits of napping and many famous people who practiced it regularly. At one point when I was managing a office of sales and consulting specialists we even turned some extra space into a nap room.

    1. @Wendy- I wish I was that good at it. I have to take out my contacts (if I fall asleep with them in, there’s just trouble afterwards) which always adds to the transaction costs of napping…

  4. When I was at a teenager and told my mom I was “too tired to do the dishes”, she calmly said: “Energy begets energy.”

    That was the height of my teenaged rebellion, (may I be so lucky with my kids!) but she was right. That thought never left me.

    One of my favorite things to do when I’m feeling tired and can’t nap is to just go outside. I end up chasing the toddler around and spotting her as she climbs up the slide and stuff and before I know it I feel energetic again.

  5. I’m glad you’re writing about this- I think it’s hard to have a discussion about time management without including discussion on energy management. There have been plenty of periods in my life (due to pregnancy, illness etc.) when my energy level didn’t reach my motivation level, and I became mentally frustrated. More posts on this topic, please, Laura!

    1. @Leanne – will do! I sometimes find myself relying on the extremely limited to-do list strategy. I tell myself this is all I have to do today. After I do one thing, I often feel so victorious I go do something else, too. Progress helps a lot with motivation.

      1. I second the request for more posts on energy management, especially since I highly suspect that I’m newly pregnant, and am just cringing at the thought of six weeks of morning sickness followed by seven months low energy.

        1. @Liz- very exciting! But yes, pregnancy isn’t always known for being a high-energy time. I’ll work on thinking up some energy-related topics…

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