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Do I have the energy for this?


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https://www.linkedin.com/in/micha-nicheva/

Like many people reading this, I spend a lot of my waking time at work and I’d like to share my experiences and recent insights on managing energy.

I’m a designer and strategist in the tech industry, and over the past decade, I’ve experienced burnout multiple times. At the time, I often didn’t recognize it for what it was. All I knew was that I felt emotionally detached, exhausted, and plagued by a sense of meaninglessness. My usual response was to believe I needed to push even harder or to contemplate changing jobs. Predictably, neither approach yielded lasting results. The same struggles would inevitably resurface with greater and greater imapact.

During one of my lowest points, I became curious about burnout and started researching it. To my surprise, it was far more prevalent than I had realised. Equally common was the tendency to soldier on rather than make substantive changes. I discovered that taking a break could provide temporary relief, but it couldn’t resolve the root issue. What truly made a difference was a shift in perspective. Instead of asking myself, “Do I have the time to do this?” I started asking, “Do I have the energy for this?” This shift has helped me to make better decisions, both personally and professionally.

I came to realize that time, while easily quantifiable, isn’t the most valuable metric. It’s linear and fixed and it lacks context. In contrast, energy is fluid – it can be depleted or generated. This shift in focus might seem obvious now, but it was transformative for me at the time. As a neurodivergent individual, I’ve had to be especially attuned to my energy, yet I’ve found this approach universally beneficial. In my team, we’ve integrated this practice by discussing preferred interaction styles and optimal energy times at the start of each project. This small effort has made collaboration easier and helped us avoid misunderstandings. It has also helped us spot the signs of burnout early and address them before they cause damage.

I’m well aware that, not every workplace embraces these practices. Some inadvertently or intentionally encourage burnout because they see overwork as productive. But as workers, we can try to be vocal and make changes wherever we have control.

So if you’re just scanning this post – here’s the top-line summary:

  1. Reflect on what energises you and what depletes you. Stay mindful of the balance between them in your day.
  2. Set some boundaries around how you manage your energy and communicate these to others.
  3. Take every opportunity to rest without feeling guilty and enjoy it. Do something creative if that refuels you, go on a walk or have a lie-down. You do you and do it every time you can.

Of course, not everyone has the same flexibility at work or in their personal life. Establishing boundaries can be a privilege, especially for those juggling numerous responsibilities. Nonetheless, it’s worth evaluating where you can carve out time for yourself, whether it’s five minutes or an entire day. While circumstances differ for everyone, overfilling our schedules affects our well-being.

Remember, rest is not idle; it’s a productive investment. Doing nothing now can help you get a lot done later. If we shift our mindset in this direction, we can foster a healthier relationship with our work and our achievements.

 

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We do not provide professional help to individuals in urgent crisis. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please call 999 immediately. For support with suicidal thoughts, consider contacting the Samaritans UK, a trusted organisation specialising in confidential assistance during emotional distress. Your safety is paramount and there are professionals available to provide the urgent help required in such critical situations.
We do not provide professional help to individuals in urgent crisis. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please call 999 immediately. For support with suicidal thoughts, consider contacting the Samaritans UK, a trusted organisation specialising in confidential assistance during emotional distress. Your safety is paramount and there are professionals available to provide the urgent help required in such critical situations.