Habits That Drain Your Time and Energy
Earlier this year I shared a post with tips for making a better use of your time and I thought this topic of habits that drain your time [and energy] would be a great extension of that. We are all guilty of it whether we realize it or not, but every single day we do things that inevitably drain our time and/or energy. These habits can be task specific things like always checking your email, to more emotional things like overthinking all the things
I’ve been working on trying to be more aware of when these draining habits start to take over but there are certainly some things that are still a work in progress. So let’s take this journey together to identify and recognize habits that drain your time and energy. Being more aware of these habits will help you to become more successful and productive in your daily life.
ALWAYS CHECKING YOUR PHONE, SOCIAL MEDIA & EMAIL
Do you check your phone first thing in the morning when you wake up? And endlessly scroll at night laying in bed? And refresh every 2 seconds looking for new emails or new posts/stories? And even when you’re just checking the time find yourself checking email and social media?
I get it, we basically have our entire lives in our phones these days and you can’t go anywhere without seeing people on them. But what value is constantly checking and refreshing bringing to your day…or life? My guess is not too much and that perhaps it’s stemming from a FOMO feeling in a sense. We’ve all been there and I’m guilty of it myself, too.
From an email standpoint, something that can be really effective is to dedicate 2-3 times per day that you’ll check email. You basically block schedule time in your calendar that is solely dedicated to responding to and sending emails. For example, 9-10am, 12:30-1:30pm and 4-5pm. You can certainly adjust the timing and frequency based on your personal needs but this gives you dedicated time to solely focus on emails instead of anxiously checking all day long. Be sure to let your supervisor and co-workers know about this change in your email management, referencing how it will help to increase your overall productivity.
From a social media standpoint, I think it is most important to set boundaries for yourself. I don’t allow myself on my phone/social media until after 8am…and I’m working towards pushing that to 8:30am and even 9am. I don’t allow myself to bring my phone in bed and I like to stay off of it starting around 10pm. If I’m out to dinner or with family and friends, I try to keep my phone away from me so I can enjoy the moment and not be tempted. If I want to capture content while I’m out, I try to get any photos/videos ASAP and then will save them to post later in the day so I can enjoy the moment and people I’m with.
STRESSING ABOUT ALL THE THINGS
Stress is one of the biggest time and energy sucks. We are all guilty of letting stress get the best of us. Whether it’s stressing about something that happened in the past, something upcoming, or something occurring at this very moment, stress comes in all shapes and sizes. Maybe you are stressing about an upcoming presentation at work, or your current financial situation, or what to wear on your first date this weekend, or the grade you got on a test.
Learning what situations cause you stress is key, along with finding techniques to relieve that stress. Some stress relief techniques could be taking a 5 minute walk outside to clear your mind or step away from a situation, journaling, talking to a friend or loved one, meditating or doing yoga. Find what works for you and use that technique as your go-to stress relieving resource. Stress can sometimes lead to overthinking, too, so let’s dive into that idea a bit.
Anyone else chronically overthink anything and everything?! Great, me too. Overthinking should basically be my middle name! I don’t know about you but overthinking everything causes so much stress for me emotionally and physically [cue re-reading the bullet above on stress]. I catch myself overthinking things from big life moments to small, minuscule things like my coffee order. Seriously, I sat in the Starbucks parking lot for like 5 minutes this morning going back and forth on what I would get and panicking about custom ordering or just getting something straight from the menu. Like, why?! It’s a coffee order. Something I definitely don’t need to be overthinking!
For the bigger things in life that I overthink, I get into this “could have, should have, would have” mindset. I might start to wonder “why me?!” and try to figure out plausible reasonings for why things happened the way they did. I’ve always been hard on myself and overthinking everything certainly does not help that. I’m just now starting to work on accepting things and giving myself grace. I also want to start journaling or doing brain dumps to see if I can pinpoint why I’m overthinking things and help to work through all the crazy thoughts in my head. More on that to come!
NOT GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP
I can very easily tell when I haven’t had enough sleep. I feel slowed down and foggy, and lack the typical motivation and excitement for the day ahead. These slowed down, foggy feelings certainly don’t help your productivity. I then load up on caffeine and don’t opt for the healthiest food options, neither of which do the body good.
Prioritizing sleep is huge for every and any body. I try to go to bed around the same time each night which helps my body get into a routine. If I wake up in the middle of the night, I’ve stopped checking my phone to see what time it is. I noticed that when I was checking the time in the middle of the night I’d get so anxious. If it was earlier than I thought I’d think “oh my gosh it’s ONLY x-time?!” If it was later than I thought, I’d start to panic that it was x-time and concerned I wouldn’t fall asleep and then my alarm would go off for the day and all the things…an endless cycle! So I would definitely say that I am much less anxious at night and when I wake up by not checking my phone.
NOT WORKING WITH YOUR STRENGTHS
This is something that takes some trial and error, and you really have to tune into yourself. Working with your strengths means doing tasks at the time of day where you are most receptive, alert and focused to do so. By working against those times of strength, you’re ultimately just draining your time and energy trying to make something work that just isn’t meant to be.
Here’s some examples to better help explain…
If you enjoy working out, figure out if you are more effective with AM or PM workouts. For me, I like to get movement in first thing in the morning whether it’s a walk or some deep stretching yoga. It helps me get into the right frame of mind for the day and personally, I like having that dedicated me time to start the day. It allows my mind to slowly “wake up” and I’m not tempted to check my phone or email during that time.
Figure out what time of the day you are most alert and sharp, and accomplish bigger, more involved tasks at that time. If you’re a morning person, tackle projects or reports first thing and save the more mundane, simple tasks like emails or making copies for the afternoon. If you like to ease into your day a bit, start by responding to emails that don’t require much thought to get part of your inbox cleared out. You’ll feel accomplished by getting those emails responded to and then you can start tackling the quicker tasks, working your way to the more involved ones when you’re feeling more alert.
SITTING FOR TOO LONG
Have you ever sat down at your desk to get some work done, you get sucked into the never-ending list of to-do’s, hours and hours pass, and all of a sudden you feel like you can’t think or process anything? Yup, I’ve been there plenty of times! For me, I find that the “I CAN’T THINK STRAIGHT” feeling is from sitting in the same spot for too long and not getting up to take breaks.
I talked about the pomodoro technique on the blog before and it is something I have definitely been working to make more of a priority. Getting up from your desk for even just a few minutes to stretch, grab some water [or coffee], or even to take a 5 minute walk outside for fresh air can do absolute wonders for you! It gets your body moving, gives your eyes a break from the computer screen, and lets your brain stop feeling so “on” for a few minutes. You’ll come back feeling refreshed and ready to continue tackling your tasks.
Now I don’t always do the 25 minutes work and 5 minute break timing of the pomodoro technique. Sometimes I’m in the zone more than others, or the task I’m working on isn’t too involved so I just want to finish it before I take a break. I’ve become more in-tune with myself and can easily tell when my body and brain need a quick break and refresh. My favorite thing to do is to grab some water and head outside for fresh air. Something about the outside air and sunshine just leaves me feeling so refreshed and relaxed. The key with these breaks is to have no distractions…so leave your phone so you aren’t tempted!
There you have it my friends, habits that drain your time and energy. We all encounter some - or all - of these at some point in our daily lives and it is important to become more aware of these draining habits. Did any of these resonate with you? Share below in the comments!