How to manage your own energy when we can't run home
Our Week to Shine! - A World Introvert Day Special
Introverts are really no different from everyone else. We have our strengths and our weaknesses. When we use our strengths like creativity, listening, thoughtfulness, and team loyalty, we can become great project managers, engineers, salespersons, artists, leaders, not to mention spouses and parents, just like extroverts. We just have different ways of doing things.
One of the starkest differences is that our energy can drain when we are called upon to be social or to be the center of attention. Extroverts often thrive in those same situations. It doesn't mean we can't do them, it just means it's often out of our comfort zone.
So how do introverts succeed when life, and work in particular, often involves working with others, making rapid decisions, and voicing our opinions?
We must learn to manage our personal battery each day.
The Energy Equation
Your Battery Gauge = Energy Charged - Energy Drained
The Introvert's Energy Equation is quite simple. Much like a phone battery, for instance, our own battery has a gauge that measures the amount of energy we have left.
Each of our batteries is about the same size. When our battery is full, we have the physical energy and also the mental space to do things. When our battery is getting low, we get more sluggish, tired, impatient, and even irritable. It is important to gauge where your battery level is during the day. As your battery drains, you can gauge how much longer you have, like Cinderella at the Ball. When that energy drains, you better find shelter in your comfort zone or you may crash. Crashing can be ugly - totally removed from conversations, uncomfortable, short-tempered, or even panic-mode.
-Beware of the Danger Zone
The Danger Zone is that "red" level on your fuel gauge that indicates you are almost out of gas. You always want to avoid the danger zone. What is so draining? I find that the further I get from my comfort zone, the quicker I get drained. Saying "hi" or chatting with a co-worker or school parents can be a slow drain. Being part of a contentious debate, being unprepared for a meeting, or leading a presentation in front of dozens drains my battery rapidly. It's important to understand what drains you most so you can use the tools below to avoid the danger zone.
+Recharge your Battery
How can you refill your battery? This can be through rest, reading, music, exercise, meditation, hobbies like art or writing, as well as through those solitary menial tasks that give your brain a bit of a rest while also providing a sense of accomplishment. Examples could be filing, planning your calendar, or sending some quick emails.
Not all activities recharge your battery at the same pace. Some activities are super-chargers. They quickly recharge your battery. You may only need five minutes of reading or walking or journaling to boost your energy. Other activities may slowly elevate your energy level.
When to Recharge?
Find time to recharge. Regardless of whether you go to the office (at home these days) or are busy with your kids all day, you can't wait until 6 pm to recharge. By then, your battery is empty and you likely weren't happy or very productive in the afternoon.
Carve out some time throughout the day. Walk the floor or campus alone. Jot down a few thoughts in your journal. Spread out those menial yet satisfying tasks in between tense meetings or engagements.
Don't schedule back-to-back meetings. Give yourself at least 15 minutes between meetings and split that time between preparing for the next meeting so it is less stressful, and just relaxing to collect yourself and recharge a bit. If you have to travel across campus or across town for meetings, provide ample time. Reserve some time after meetings for a bit of solitude to bring your energy level back up.
You may also choose to grab lunch by yourself in your office, in the cafe, or off-campus. When I learned this trick, I initially felt strange. Are people watching me? Do they think I'm weird? Do they think I'm antisocial or pompous? But then I realized how valuable that time was for me, especially in the middle of a chaotic day. I recognized I had a lot more energy in the afternoon and others benefited too when I was full of energy.
Best ways to keep your battery going:
Plan your week on your calendar.
Remove items that are not necessary, especially on packed days. Don't overdo it.
Review your calendar the day before.
Ensure you have time between meetings.
Schedule time before meetings to prepare and reenergize.
Strategically place "recovery" time after draining meetings or social time.
Treat yourself to a lunchtime getaway - just you and your book, journal, or peace & quiet.
Boost your energy at the end of the workday. Review your next day's calendar before you leave and seek a lower stress commute.
Wind down at night and get some quality sleep (7-8 hours or more).
Grow your recharging toolkit: read, journal, music, art, menial tasks, walk, exercise, phone game, whatever you enjoy...
No More Leftovers
For years, I would come home drained. I slid into the couch and often was unable to join the family conversation. My family got whatever was leftover. Sound familiar?
Before the end of your workday, review your calendar for the next day. Be sure to create space. Schedule your walk or lunch out. This will give you some comfort that you have exerted control over your schedule and you have a manageable day ahead.
Try to find a low-stress commute. It doesn't help much when we finish work with a recharged battery, only to fight traffic or have to socialize in the carpool. My favorite commute was a train ride home in London. I could read, nap, or journal. It allowed me to transition out of work mode and join the conversation with the family when I got home.
Being aware of our energy level is half the battle. The other half is carving out small bits of time during the day to recharge. If you manage your energy battery during the day, your day and your night will be much more satisfying for everyone.
Shining a Spotlight!
World Introvert Day - January 2nd
Our Week to Shine!
Sunday Introversion is our Journey (YouTube)
Monday Tools for Introverts that Work (LinkedIn)
Tuesday How the Dictionary Definition of 'Introversion' Harms Everyone
(blog via Introvert, Dear Partnership)
Wednesday 10 Ways to Power Up at Work (Blog)
Thursday How to Grow with Compassion (Blog)
Friday Top 100: Ask an Introvert (Facebook)
Saturday Your Most Important Investment for 2021 (Blog)
In Case You Missed It:
Every Monday I post a LinkedIn series: Tools for Introverts that Work
Here's my post from this past Monday:
Tools for Introverts that Work*
*Our Feel Good Tool: Recognition
Part of our week of World Introvert Day series
When I worked in corporate America I thrived on recognition. The raises were great, but I needed the occasional pat on the back or special commendation. It gave me a warm feeling inside. It helped confirm I was on track when my conscience doubted me. I think it just made me feel appreciated and needed.
I'm not sure this is unique to introverts, though I suspect such validation may especially help those of us who often criticize our own work inside our head and are reticent to toot our own horn.
Since I've retired I've realized how much I miss recognition. I now write books and blogs and have no boss and thus no pats on the back. Sure, I do believe in positive self-talk and self-recognition, but it's not quite the same.
Lately, I've found a bit of a replacement. I track my website subscribers, social media followers, blog readers. I'm driven to grow my business to reach more introverts with my message. The numbers also drive me and I get a bit of that warm feeling inside again.
All of us can benefit from some recognition. Be sure you have that in your life and gift it out to others when you can.
Check out our ongoing series every Monday by following me on LinkedIn.