High energy and low energy activities

What kinds of activities need high energy, and what can you do when you feel more tired? Which activities energize you and which ones drain you? It’s good to think about these things so that:

  • You can keep low-energy activities out of your peak creative/energetic hours – save those for high-impact high-energy projects!
  • You can work on something productive even when you don’t feel like you’re at the top of your game – and you don’t waste time trying to think of something to do when you’re feeling blah.
  • You can identify your energy drainers and find ways around them, or limit their effect on the rest of your day.

It’s good to know how to take advantage of your high energy moments. It’s also good to know what moves you from one energy state to another. What do you do to relax or unwind? What do you do to recharge? What drains you, and what gives you more energy? What can you do when you feel tired, and what should you do when you feel at your peak? Don’t waste great energy on low-value or low-energy tasks. Don’t get frustrated if you can’t focus on high-energy tasks when you’re tired.

Here’s a list I made of the things I do when I have low, medium, or high energy. For the most part, things energize me. Some activities like e-mail, talking to people, shopping, or dealing with technical issues can be draining, so I try to avoid doing them before high-energy activities.

Low energy versus high energy

When I drew things out like this, I realized that drawing on paper was different for me compared to drawing on my computer. I find it easier to draw on paper at night because drawing on my computer often tempts me to stay up late. I started drawing more on paper in order to take advantage of those low-energy moments and expand the time I spend thinking visually, scanning the sketches in and using my phone or computer to organize the sketches afterwards.

If I’m alert and energetic, I know that I should focus on writing, coding, or other high-energy activities instead of spending time handling e-mail or getting distracted by watching a movie in the background.

What do you do when you have high energy? How about low energy? How do you energize yourself, and how do you deal with your drainers?

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  • Aye

    Hi Sasketchewan, I was pondering the same thing lately. I found it can be draining mentally to try and start a high energy activity when you’re in a low energy state. It can even lead to paralysis. It’s good to realize that there are low energy ways to stay productive. Getting work done, even if it’s low energy, is reinvigorating and gets one in a good state of mind to tackle those harder tasks.

  • Aye

    How do you energize yourself? Like I said, getting stuff done can be energizing. Another thing that’s not so much energizing but gives me enormous focus are fish oil supplements. I used to take them on a daily basis, but now I just take them when I feel I need that extra focus. Like Aspirin. Listening to classical music also helps me focus. I listen to Mozart most of the time, sometimes Beethoven, rarely Bach. I pick a piano sonata or a symphony and listen to it in a loop. It gets me in a happy focused state of mind. And last but not least my girlfriend is always there to energize me. She knows how to make me laugh and feel on top of the world.
    How do you deal with drainers? I eliminate them. In your drainers list you have talking with people and email. If that’s draining to you why would you do it? If you really have some emails that need to be written maybe you can outsource it to a virtual assistant. But probably you could just reduce the number and length of your emails to a level where it’s not that draining to you and quickly done. As for shopping, pick a time when there are usually few people or order a home delivery. Where I live I can have home delivery at no extra cost if the order is large enough.

    • I don’t like sifting through all the choices in shopping. Fortunately, my husband likes comparison shopping and consumer research, so he does all the electronics stuff. =)

      As for e-mail – it can be hard to say no to people, although I’ve gotten much better at that over the past two years! I deal with it by replying to e-mail roughly once a week and being tactfully protective of my time. The volume isn’t a big deal.

      People-wise, I’ve been editing my interactions so that I focus on stuff that works for me better. So, no one-on-one coffees with people, and more short Google Hangout conversations so that joining and leaving isn’t awkward. Fewer individual friendships and more group friendships. It’s still important to interact with and learn from people, so I’m not going to cut that out of my life, but I can certainly tweak it! =)

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  • Rafael Nagel

    hey sacha,

    I am trying to tag my tasks in org-mode by energy level. How have you been doing on that so far?
    I thought about a very simple approach such as: low-energy, high-energy etc…

    • Try tags without dashes (ex: low). You may also want to set up custom agenda commands and fast tag selection, and learn how to bulk-set tags from the agenda. Have fun!