As a child, I was a night owl. I often stayed up well past midnight into the early morning hours. Though I began to wake up earlier throughout my college years, after grad school I found myself burned out and confronted with the need to change my habits. I was constantly tired and struggled to have enough energy to get through the day. I was burning the candle at both ends: working long days (including weekends), commuting 4-6 hours every day, and band-aiding my exhaustion with caffeine.
When I learned to value energy management over time management (a concept from Tony Schwartz’s book The Power of Full Engagement) is when things shifted for the better. Most of us realize we’re more productive at certain times of the day, but a key to benefitting from this information is being able to identify those times and adapt our schedule accordingly. Pay attention to the times when you’re at peak productivity and when you’re least motivated.
More importantly, if demand a lot from yourself, you must build in periods of rest for recovery and rejuvenation – or you may face burn out. Most of us, even when we try to relax, still impulsively check email and social media, so we never fully disconnect and recharge the way we need to.
This compulsive behavior is the result of a four-part negative feedback loop associated with technology addiction that I break down in my new program, REWIRE, which is designed to help you take back control of your time, rewire your digital habits, and live a more balanced life in just thirty days. I struggled with being “always on” for years, and I saw many of my clients faced the same issue, so I put together this program to share how I was able to finally break the cycle and find ways to mentally recharge.
Creating an effective morning routine has been one of the most beneficial energy management strategies I’ve found. Mine is rooted in regulating decision fatigue which, in simple terms, means limiting making small decisions throughout the day to conserve willpower for important choices. We humans have a limited amount of brainpower for making smart choices, and that cognitive reserve is depleted throughout the day. It’s why successful entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg wear the same outfit every day: why waste mental energy on picking out clothes when you could put that decision-making power towards changing the world?
That’s why my morning rituals are so important to me. They allow me to wake up, hit the ground running, and shift straight into executing efficiently and effectively. With mundane decisions on autopilot, I don’t have to worry about decision fatigue or getting mired in choices that drain me. Instead, I save my mental and physical energy for the good stuff: creating, connecting, problem solving, and more.