As we begin a new year, many of us are setting resolutions to better meet our daily commitments and improve. Unfortunately, within a month, many of the self-promises are overcome by real-world strains that can lead to disappointments and resentments that hinder personal growth.
According to Socrates, the unexamined life is not worth living. Personal growth as learners requires continuous self-reflection, resulting in the clarity of the mind necessary for a good and happy life (Navia, 2007). As such, we are to intentionally focus on managing daily activities by transforming our mindset with sensors and triggers to recognize when to shift our energy to deliver our optimal capabilities. A focused, intentional Time Managed Energy (TME) day includes mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional deposits into each lifeline.
How can we fully show up for the people and obligations in our lives? This year, I recommend each of us take the time to intentionally and mindfully renew our energy lifelines in each facet of our lives: family, work, school, rest, and wellness."
Apply Focused (TME) Lifeline Solutions
We have been given 1440 minutes per day; most of us use our time and energy to meet several expectations – sometimes, it can feel like these expectations are competing. How can we fully show up for the people and obligations in our lives? This year, I recommend each of us take the time to intentionally and mindfully renew our energy lifelines in each facet of our lives: family, work, school, rest, and wellness. Begin by conducting an honest self-assessment; how do we use the 1440 minutes in each day? What level of energy do we commit to family, organizations, and ourselves (Schwartz & McCarthy, 2007)? Here are doable solutions to apply this year:
- Own Our Schedule. Review and establish boundaries within our 1440 minutes. Set conditions for each of our TME lifelines. Share commitments with family, peers, and employers. Do not mix family, school, and work-energy efforts. (My family was more appreciative of my work and scholarly schedule and the importance of being fully engaged in non-family activities when I provided them with the same level of intentional, focused energy to family engagements.)
- Manage the Guilt Trap. Throughout the day, we are faced with nagging regrets, insecurities, and self-doubt of where we should be applying our current time and energy. While working, mental burdens include questions such as: Am I working too many hours? Am I neglecting my family commitments? Am I dismissing my health and exercise? During family time, we shift to feelings of guilt that may include thinking about work, projects, rethinking our work approaches; ultimately, we do not completely provide the energy to live in the moment with our family members. (I realized that there will always be a nagging feeling and thought that “I should be at work” when at play and conversely, “I should be relaxing more” when at work. I also have to acknowledge that sitting in the family room with relatives just "reading emails" is not true family time.)
- Physical Energy. Longer workdays, countless video meetings, lack of exercise, poor nutrition, and a lack of sleep led many of us to feel worn down as we ended 2020. Deposits into our physical energy lifeline include reducing stress by engaging in cardiovascular activity three times per week, eating small meals and light snacks, and being mindful of our internal energy levels by taking regular breaks every 90 to 120 minutes.
- Emotional Energy. Increase awareness of how we feel at different times throughout the day. We should take deliberate intermittent recovery breaks when we are feeling physiologically incapable of relentless demands. Deposits may include a 20-minute break away from work, reflecting on our emotional intelligence, reaching out to positive influences in our life, and practicing gratitude.
- Mental Energy. Believe it or not, we need to determine the amount of time we will need to spend on nonproductive distractions. Here are some practical, but nonetheless real, distractions to anticipate and manage: time addressing a crisis, working late nights, and engaging in disruptive mental energy-absorbing designs. Do add deposits into this lifeline by prioritizing projects, shorter meetings, and schedule a time for focused administrative work.
- Spiritual Energy. Set aside time and energy for our human spirit daily. This affords a sense of meaning and purpose that enables the clarity that transcends into time with friends, peers, and family members.
In 2021, we are to make an implicit contract with ourselves to own our 1440 minutes by purposely allocating energy to each of the four TME lifelines. We owe our families the best of us. Organizations and schools require fully engaged employees/students, innovative thinkers, and sustainable mindsets. Let’s be intentional about investing in a transformative mindset by investing and allocating balanced energy, resulting in a better “I.”
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of any other person or entity.