William Liao

November 2, 2021

Managing your energy

Every day we give away our limited energy in the form of time, effort, and emotion.

You might give some energy to work.

You might give some energy to family and friends. 

You might give some energy to side projects. 

Ideally, you — or anyone for that matter — are doing two things: 

  1. You’re giving your energy to the things that you value the most
  2. You’re giving your energy away at a slower rate than what it takes to replenish it. There’s a name for what happens when you do the opposite; it’s called burnout

If you’re doing these two things already, that’s wonderful. If not, it’s okay — learning to manage your energy is a skill that takes time, intention, and effort to cultivate. 

To that end, here are a few concepts that I’ve found especially helpful over the last few years: 

  1. It’s okay to say no. Overcommitting and burning out serves no one. 
  2. Limit bursts of energy for when they’re needed. When you’re dealing with something of great importance and is time-sensitive, it can be worthwhile to deploy an extensive amount of energy in a small amount of time. This isn’t sustainable, though, so it’s important to limit these bouts of effort for when they’re truly needed. 
  3. Make space for yourself and take quality breaks. Time to physically and mentally recuperate is invaluable — make space for it. Don’t book every blank slot on your calendar; build some slack into your schedule to allow for breaks when you need them. And when you take breaks, make sure they’re real breaks — no refreshing e-mail, checking Slack, or taking work calls (no matter how short). 
  4. Recognize unhelpful thoughts and unsubscribe from them. Complaining, self-pity, and excessive worry are massive energy drains that subtract from your well-being. Recognizing when these modes of thought arise and choosing to drop them is an invaluable skill worth cultivating.