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In a recent podcast conversation with Sabrina Bramble, she talked about getting the horrible stuff done first thing in the day, whilst your motivation and energy levels were high, I mentioned that I did the opposite and tried to keep the mornings free for creative tasks whilst I had the energy to focus - and it prompted me to think both about how useful structures can be when self-employed, but also how unique and individual they are, based upon your own preferences and working habits.
Structuring your day around your energy levels, your ability to focus, your motivation and drive to get things done is just one approach to actively designing a way of working that works for you - but without understanding what affects your energy and motivation, or how that changes over time, it can be frustrating.
Perhaps you start out with a plan, but when you don’t manage to stick to it, it can feel like you’ve failed - but perhaps your plan in the first place was only based upon your idea of what might be right, rather than how you’re actually feeling.
Keeping an energy diary is one way of collecting tangible data on your own working style, so you’re able to spot patterns over time. It’s not just about the time of day either - whilst the time of day have a significant impact on your energy levels (we all know the mid-afternoon slump), it’s also about the type of work you’re doing in that moment, or other things which might be influencing your motivation or energy.
You don’t even need to do anything with the diary entry just yet - but repeating the process over a few weeks each day gives you some powerful insight, which you can use to reflect back and identify any patterns. Do you on average feel low energy at any particular time of day or day of the week? Are there tasks which always seem to accompany high energy moments? Are there activities which seem to precede changes in your energy?
Techniques like this don’t require any changes from you - we’re not trying to encourage you to change your habits or re-structure your day, but they do give you information on what changes might be valuable, or where there are habits you might want to look deeper at. In fact, we'd recommend you don't make any changes until you've gathered a better insight on where things are working, and where they're not. All too often good intentions, like new years resolutions, fail because you're aiming at the wrong thing, or fixing things which aren't broken - only leading to frustration. So figuring out where you're starting from is valuable in the long term.
We've posted a new guide to creating an Energy Diary, along with downloadable templates for your own use.
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