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Expand what you have to give, versus giving your all

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June 23rd, 2011

- Updated on

May 15, 2019 - 12:16pm

How to manage your energy in an “always on” world

Are you working more than 15 hours a day? Is it struggle to accomplish all that you need to in a day? Do you feel tired, if not exhausted much of the time? Are you overweight? Do you experience health-related problems? Do you rely on caffeine or sugar to keep you going? Are you able to maintain high levels of energy throughout the day? 

At an AJO Coaches Forum, Practice Leader Oneida Werger shared insights, tips, and techniques for managing personal energy with some easy to implement, practical ideas that have yielded significant results for individuals, teams, and organizations.

Why is energy management so important today?

For the individual:

  • Engagement is tied to personal energy – increasing one will increase the other.
  • Our ability to focus and sustain interest levels remains high over longer periods.
  • “Attraction power” increases through positive emotions we generate from our energy.
  • Improved health and well-being are essential components of extended careers today.

For the team and organization:

  • The team’s capacity increases when its members are managing their energy well. Creativity, problem-solving and output increases.
  • Team spirit is enhanced and conflict is reduced.
  • Research has revealed that organizations realize better results and more sustainable performance. (Wachovia and Sony Pictures are examples of organizations that have seen bottom line growth in earnings per share and revenue.)

The Four Sources of Energy Management

According to experts in the field, we gain and expend energy from four different, but inter-related sources:

  1. Physical: Sleep, nutrition, hydration, physical activity and our health “fuel the fire” determining how much energy we have to expend. Physical energy is derived from the interaction between oxygen and glucose.
  2. Emotional: In order to perform at our best we must access pleasant and positive emotions: enjoyment, challenge, adventure, and opportunity. Negative emotions are costly and inefficient and drain our energy reserves rapidly.
  3. Mental: Our mental energy is measured by our ability to focus, as well as maintain our optimism. Thinking demands tremendous amounts of energy. While the brain is only 2% of body weight, it consumes 25% of its oxygen. Oxygen is the primary ingredient of energy.
  4. Spiritual: The energy of the human spirit can override severe limitations of physical energy. Spiritual energy comes from the values and purpose by which we live our lives. E.g. Character, passion, commitment, integrity and honesty are “forces for action” which fuel our spiritual energy.

Full engagement occurs only when we are physically energized, emotionally connected mentally focused and spiritually aligned. Furthermore, our energy is at peak levels in the morning, so understanding how and why our energy reserves are depleted is as important as knowing how to replenish them. The good news is that we can increase the quantity and quality of energy throughout the day while avoiding the sources that drain our energy. By better understanding what fuels and what drains, we can replenish our energy reserves and do more in less time.

Oneida shared a personal and organization energy action plan with “thought starter” tips for building and maintaining energy.

AJO’s Top Tips

  • Physical: Go to bed early, eat 5-6 small meals a day and workout daily. Take “energizing breaks” during the day (E.g. a brisk walk, meditation, refreshment and/or snack break).
  • Emotional: Schedule non-work daily activities that are enjoyable, fulfilling, affirming for you (reading, singing, dancing, sports). Cultivate strong interpersonal relationships.
  • Mental: Align your energy levels with your priorities. E.g. Work on high priority tasks in 90-minute intervals during the mornings (when energy levels are at their highest). Reduce interruptions during these times, including email and phone.
  • Spiritual: Align your interests with your activities. This involves identifying what you enjoy and don’t enjoy doing. Understand and live by your core values.

Interestingly, one client attending Coaches Forum shared his personal story of how he embraced the principles of energy management; pointing out that one of our recommended books (see "Power of Full Engagement" below) had literally saved his life.

If you’re interested in learning more, we recommend you start by taking the Energy Audit. There’s an audit for leaders also that will help you determine whether your leadership style boosts or drains your team’s energy. You’ll get your score immediately, with additional information and advice via email. 

Contact us to learn more about how we are embedding energy management into our coaching programs. 

Recommended Resources


  • Managing Your Energy, Not Your Time - by Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy. HBR - Oct 2007. This article advocates that the science of stamina has advanced to the point where individuals, teams and whole organizations can, with some straightforward interventions, significantly increase their capacity to get things done. Includes the Wachovia case study and energy audit mentioned above. A must-read for leaders!
  • Productivity Paradox: How Sony Pictures Gets More Out of People by Demanding Less - by Tony Schwartz. HBR - June 2010. Another must read for organizational leaders. This link points to the pay version of this article. Complete the Energy Audit and you’ll get the full article via email (at no charge). 


“Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer; since to remain constantly at work will cause you to lose power of judgment.”
Leonardo da Vinci”