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Picture this: You’ve got a big deadline to meet. You wake up feeling sluggish but still manage to scarf a coffee and get to your desk early. Time to get going. But from then on, things start to rapidly unravel. Emails need tactful – and immediate – responses. A colleague comes to you with a crisis you feel duty bound to help with, even though your own time is slipping away. By the time 6 o clock rolls round you’re no closer to getting the work you needed to done. Today’s been a write off, but could you have done anything differently? Here's how to take control of your day.
The power of finding your rhythm
One of the biggest shifts for women who take our BeFruitful program is shifting from a focus on best utilising their time, to focusing on their energy.
What does this look like in practice? Well, it starts by taking a step back and observing the way your energy flows over the course of a day, a week or a month.
Most of us know whether we tend to be ‘larks’ who hit the ground running at the start of the day, or owls who find our flow later in the evening. (These days there’s a lot of focus on optimizing your ‘morning routine’, but if you’re someone who doesn’t get going until the afternoon that’s probably not going to be helpful. Don’t feel bad – just pay attention to what works for you.)
Then there’s the pattern of your week, some of which will depend on your schedule. Maybe you have a meeting on a Monday that tends to leave you fired up and motivated, or a day when you work from home and know you’ll have more space to concentrate.
Finally, it’s important to look at how things change for you over the course of a month. If you’re menstruating, hormonal shifts are likely to have an impact on what you’re able to get done. But many women who don’t have periods also notice an ebb and flow in their energy, sometimes connected to the moon cycle.
Focus on observing what’s true for you and ignore what anyone else might share. We’re all unique when it comes to this stuff.
What to do when you know your energy flow
So, you’ve established more or less what your energy flow looks like. This is the most important step when it comes to discovering how to take control of your day without burning out. You don’t have to go crazy over the exact detail (although when you see how effective this approach is, I have no doubt you’ll add to this data!).
But hopefully you'll be able to identify a pattern that makes sense. Let’s say…
- The week before your period you tend to feel short tempered, decisive and very clear about what’s not working in your life.
- You’re usually sluggish before 12 but tend to get a big burst of energy at 9pm, and can happily work until midnight if you don’t have an early start ahead of you.
- Monday has you feeling a bit scattered as you respond to colleagues at the start of the week, but by Tuesday the priorities are clear and you’re able to tackle big tasks with a bit more headspace.
Can you see how developing this kind of picture suddenly opens up a whole lot of options?
How to take control of your day
When you start to look at each day not as a linear progression of hours within which to cram your tasks, but as a fluctuating model of energy which you can choose how you focus, things get a whole lot easier.
Rather than feeling frustrated with things not going to plan, you can prepare yourself to optimise your energy on any given day. We use a tool called "Batching for Energy Matching" to assign tasks to the times when you're going to be most effective at doing them.
So in the example we started off with, it might not have been that the world was against you.
Perhaps you weren’t in the right time in your cycle to be looking at a deep-dive piece of work. Certainly, with hindsight, the pull you felt to support your distressed colleague and respond to those emails indicated that you might have been better off prioritising supporting the team rather than working on a solo project. And getting to your desk early doesn't really have helped if your best thinking time isn’t until later in the day.
This approach to planning can transform how you're able to juggle the competing tasks on your list.
Elizabeth, a BeFrutiful participant, found that focusing on her own energy made a real shift in the way she approached each day. In fact, she started implementing the technique as she worked through BeFruitful, to help her get the most out of the training. She wrote to tell us:
“I am so enjoying the modules, and in the spirit of finding and embracing my own rhythms have begun to 'identify' the most fruitful ways for me to watch, listen, reflect and implement the elements of each lesson.
I have found this week's rhythm and cycles work in lesson 2 fascinating and am now beginning to look differently at the emotions I have so far attributed to hormones, life's knocks, the attitudes and behaviours of others or external factors that come from nowhere.
I'm stopping and taking a different look at each situation as it arises and even though I know I can't stop all the external stuff coming at me, I'm aligning my own responses to a soft power or archetype response which in itself is bringing a very interesting perspective and a deep sense of calm.”
– Elizabeth Jane Kent, Director, Learning Teaching Leading
What about the things you really can’t control?
OK, you might be thinking, that’s all well and good. I’ll take a week off a month for PMT, never have a meeting before 11am and just tell that client that my “energy’s not right” for their pressing deadline. Is that a pig flying past the window I just saw?
Of course, in the real world we can’t shape every event to fit with our understanding of our energies. We’ve all had to call on “Superwoman” to get us through from time to time. The presentation that falls on a day when you really want to be in bed weeping over a soppy movie. Or the gently meandering “visioning session” that frustrates the hell out of you -- you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and take action!
What matters is that you're not in that misaligned place for the parts you can control.
Learning to work to your rhythms won’t stop the rest of the world from working to theirs. But when you understand what works best for you, you can do your utmost to make sure you’re working as effectively as possible – and forgive yourself faster when life throws you a curveball.
Want to learn how to take control of your days?
If you’re curious about learning to apply these tools to your own busy schedule, BeFruitful could transform the way you approach life. In fact, it’s guaranteed to free up at least 4 hours a week, minimum, for you to spend doing what you love.
This 6 week online program allows you to learn at your own pace from anywhere in the world, and is packed with helpful tools, practical exercises and new ways of approaching the daily juggle.
Our intention is simple. To support professional women to handle the day-to-day so they can unleash the bigger impact they feel called to make in the world.
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