Updated: Sep 7, 2022
Have you ever left work feeling completely exhausted? If you were like me, that could be a daily occurrence. I always felt energized with my intentions on crossing things off my to-do list and tackling passion projects, on my drive in to work. Then it hits, like a ton of bricks - my first interruption of that day spirals into a lack of control over my to-do list. The passion project, the report that I aimed to file two days before deadline, or that business proposal for an upcoming strategic meeting was going to have to wait. And before you know it, the clock ticks and it is time to go home, or worse I would stay late.
If you resonate with what I'm saying here, keep reading - this article is for you!
So, what is an energy drainer anyway? An energy drainer is something that pulls on your attention. Think of it as a mental to-do list that is constantly on repeat in your head. After awhile it starts to weigh on your subconscious, resulting in fatigue and irritability, or a lack of focus. I've also heard of energy drainers being referred to as "psychic vampires" that suck the vitality out of each day. Sounds pretty serious!
What happens if you do not address your energy drainers? You continue to live in a perpetual suffering that costs you time, money and joy. The first step in finding a work-life balance is identifying what pulls your attention and takes most of your energy through the day.
It is easy to identify larger items on your list, right? But what about the smaller things that don't make it on your list? These things seem to get woven into our daily "routine". For instance, you are spending the majority of your day answering emails. Although important, it can take up a lot of your time and distract you from getting something crossed off your to do list. OR what about that half finished report that you have been working on for weeks now and you know it will take maybe 2 hours to finish.
Step 1 - Listing Energy Drainers at Work:
On a blank sheet of lined paper, write 1 through 20. We accept and take on a lot that drag us down by people and situations that we may have to come to ignore in our lives rather than address them in a constructive way. Take the next 10 minutes (no distractions - set a timer on your phone and silence notifications) to explore and identify those things that drain your energy from positive activities. You may not get all 20 but give it your best.
Step 2 - Listing Energy Drainers at Home:
Flip the piece of paper from Step 1 over and follow the same instructions.
Step 3 - Label Your Drainers:
Once you've completed writing your list (20 minutes) go down through your list and consider which items you can take action against. The key to this step is to consider: do, delegate, delay, or dump. Next to each item on your list, write "do, delegate, delay, or dump" that is your action step. You want to be sure you get as many things off your list as possible but be realistic as well. Don't "dump" every item, balance out the action items.
Step 4 - Draining the Drainers!
Now, take action! Which drainers you could get off your list the fastest.
You had to return a call to a colleague 2 days ago, but keep avoiding the call. You know it will take 5 minutes and you will no longer be thinking about it - you do it.
You have a report due to management by Tuesday. Your team member is more than capable of handling the task and has been asking for more to do - you delegate it.
The pile of laundry on top of the dryer has been there for two days, take 10 minutes to put it away. Use your lists a little to-do lists, focusing on what can be crossed off quickly with little effort - you do it.
You had high hopes and intentions to organize your closet by color for the last two months but you know it will take more time than you have - you decide to delay the project until winter.
See a theme here? You take action, don't let the drainers fester. Again, drainers are a form of suffering. Why suffer when there is some much without these drainers?
"Balance is not something you find, its something you create." -Jana Kingsford
On the flip side, you can start to build your energy gainers. That requires more of a hands-on approach with a coach. Identifying what gives us energy at home and at work, and then making the time for these things is the key to a balanced work-life. It is the process of discovering needs. When we want to live a fulfilled life we standup for our needs.
If you are interested in learning more about how to discover your energy gainers and put your needs first, please click the button below for a complementary 30-minute coaching session with Malarie.