Know Your Energy Levels

If you are anything like me, you have experienced this: In the morning, you make grand plans for the evening, plan what you will do when you come home from work (or, if working from home, what you will do after work). In the morning, these plans made you feel good and productive. Then, evening rolls around, and suddenly you can think of a million reasons why you won’t stick to your plan and why you will put off those plans for some other day, probably tomorrow.

I like to call this:

The morning-self-vs-evening-self-dilemma

In my case: Morning-Stefan vs. Evening-Stefan.

Morning-Stefan is full of energy after a good night of sleep. He is keen to look through my todo-list and make plans for the day. Morning-Stefan is great at making plans. He feels extra productive making those plans. But: that’s easy for him to do, because Morning-Stefan never has to execute those evening-plans. That’s Evening-Stefan’s job. And Evening-Stefan is usually too exhausted to get anything done.

So, how does Morning-Stefan turn into Evening-Stefan? To be honest, I haven’t quite figured that out. One thing I know for sure: Evening-Stefan is likely to take over after a stressful day of work, or, if it’s the weekend, after a stressful week of work. Evening-Stefan has thoughts like this:

  • “I am too exhausted to do X”
  • “I deserve to relax”
  • “I know I made plans, but I just don’t feel like it

Listening to Evening-Stefan, he seems like a pretty whiny, and needy little f*****. He obviously lacks self-control and discipline. He sounds like a child. But we shouldn’t judge him too harshly for it. After all, he does have less (mental) energy than Morning-Stefan. That’s a fact, simply because a regular day, no matter what you do, will drain some mental energy out of you. Every little decision will drain your mental energy a tiny little bit. Bigger decisions drain more mental energy. Interacting with people – depending on the people and your personal disposition towards people in general – will drain mental energy as well. Basically, anything you do will drain that energy.

So the obvious question is:

How do we restore mental energy?

Excellent f****** question. If you have the answer, please let me know. Here are some ideas that I have picked up from listening to podcasts, reading articles, and from personal experience:

  • some types of meditation
  • consuming less news and social media
  • taking real breaks
  • going for a walk by yourself, preferably without listening to podcasts etc.
  • reducing the number of decisions you have to make
  • making decisions more quickly (instead of thinking about them and weighing all alternatives)

Especially on weekends, instead of only doing chores and staying inside:

  • Don’t stay at home, surf the inter-webs, and watch Youtube all weekend!
  • Get out of the house!
  • Meet some people you like!
  • Take a day-trip into nature!
  • Be spontaneous!

Personally, I am currently trying to be more aware of my mental energy level. I hope that, in time, this helps me and Evening-Stefan to be less whiny in the evenings. And maybe even stick to those plans that Morning-Stefan made for us…

So, how are your energy levels at the moment? I think you better stop surfing the inter-webs now. Better go and take a walk, meet some friends, read a book. Anything. But, please, stop looking at this screen! (At least for a while.)

See also