The Basics of Managing Energy

managing energy

One of the things that came out of the 2020 Reader Survey is that people are struggling with managing energy.

I’m not a naturally energetic person. In fact, some of those same readers made the comment that not everyone has energy to manage everything that I do.

I laughed until I cried at the thought that anyone in the world thought that I was a peppy and energetic person. I’m not. I don’t sleep well. I don’t sleep enough. I’m often irritable from lack of sleep. I sometimes want to put my head down on my desk and nap.

But over the years, I have learned how to manage my energy, and even what to do to increase it. So today I present the Energy Primer.

Get Enough Sleep

There are so many things that can be said about sleeping. I’m currently working my way through The Power of When by Dr. Michael Breus* and there is plenty to be said about the different chronotypes. But even those people who don’t sleep well (and I’m one of them) can still get enough sleep to recharge.

Ignoring those who don’t sleep well, everyone else should be getting enough shut eye. Make it a priority and you will see some major improvements in your energy.

And for those of you who are like me and have trouble sleeping well, I highly recommend reading the book. It’s been eye-opening.

Watch What You Eat…And When

Most of us know what makes us full and sleepy. Take a large amount of carbs and pair it with tryptophan (like Thanksgiving dinner) and you will enter a food coma.

All of us can figure out what works for us and what doesn’t.

I know that if I eat breads/cereals for breakfast, I’m going to be ravenous three hours later, after having had an energy slump. I know that if I eat protein, I’m sated and I don’t have the slump.

I know that if I eat potatoes or rice for lunch I will crash about 2 pm. If I eat protein and veggies, I’m fine and can skate through the afternoon.

Figuring out what causes your slumps is fairly easy: note when you have a slump and then look back to when and what you last ate.


I will just state outright that I have a really hard time drinking enough water. I just don’t like water very much. A little squirt of lime juice is enough to make me drink more, so I started doing that, and I’ve backed it off to the point where I drink pure water every day.

I find that when I am tired or start to flag, drinking a glass of water will usually pick me back up. Especially if I have to get up and get it before I drink it. Which brings us on to our next point.

(And no, coffee doesn’t count as water. I’ve asked.)

Move When Tired

One of my survey respondents talked about wanting to crash on the couch after work. Me too! Me too!

But what I find is that if I do that, I am there all night.

Counter-intuitively, I have found that if I get up and move around, I get past that slump. But this is soooooo hard.

I’ve been exercising with my Nintendo Switch Ring Fit Adventure* after work. That blows all the cobwebs out, and I don’t even feel like I’m exercising. But also walking around the block, or even hopping in the car and going to the grocery will do it as well.

If you really want a great alternative to couch surfing – check out the FREE app FitOn. Great exercise videos that are short.

Known Your Cycles

Each person has their own cycles of energy and slump. Some people (not me!) are bright-eyed and bushy tailed in the morning. I hit a peak at about 10 am and again at about 7.

When you know your own cycles, you can plan your activities to reflect that.

For example, I know I am at peak creativity between 10 and noon. I save that time for planning my work. I execute the plan first thing in the morning, when I’m awake but not necessarily in creative mode. I save processing email for that slump at about 2 pm. In the evenings I work on my creative stuff.

On weekends, I do my heavy physical tasks between 10 and 2. I spend the time before 10 doing light housework and after 2 catching up on email.

If you know what your energy is best suited for, try to plan your activities to the appropriate time.

Don’t Nap If You Can’t

I know there has been a lot of discussion about napping over the past 10 years or so.

However, for those of you who can’t nap, don’t sweat it. There are some people who can’t nap. I need you to know that if you are one of those people.

If I lay down during the day, even for the recommended 20 minutes, I will have such vivid images pass through my head that I don’t feel like I’ve even fallen asleep. And then when the alarm goes off? I feel like I’ve been drugged.

So even though so many experts have said that napping is great – if you can’t nap successfully, don’t force yourself. You’ll just make things worse.

Energy Management Is Worth It

For me, energy management is doing the opposite of what I want to do. I have to eat differently, sleep differently, drink differently and move differently in order to get the most energy out of myself. And I will admit that some days it is easier than others, because it allows me to get more done.

And apparently gives the impression that I have more energy than I actually do.