Many of us are enjoying full autonomy over our daily schedules, like never before we’re in control of how we spend each hour of the day. Managing our energy levels has become easier, and more important. Pulling more hours is not the answer to increasing productivity, it never has been. How we manage our energy has far more impact on how much we can get done. Keeping up a good vibe allows us to find flow, maintain concentration, and consequently, get more done in less time. Win-win!

Energy building behaviours

It’s likely that you already know that a balanced diet, enough sleep (7–9 hours a night) and regular exercise are the mainstays of good health and with that, good energy levels too. But there are other things you can do that will further nourish your energy stores or deplete them. Not only that but when you choose to add these activities into your day will also influence how effective they are for you. Mixing different activities through your day is one of the best ways to keep your energy levels high.

There is no one size fits all way to schedule energy-boosting activities. We’re all individuals; some things will work better at one end of the day for one person and not another. Just as some people love exercising early in the morning, others a few hours before bed. No-one is right or wrong; it’s just a matter of finding what is best for you.

Try mixing some of the energy-boosting activities below that appeal to you through your day between the things you have to get done — work, homeschooling, housework and whatever else you’re balancing on your plate right now. Play about with it, listen to yourself and reflect on what you need, what feels right. Doing so will help you find the right time for the different boosters.

Listening to ourselves is always the key to good health. Feel your way into these activities. Keep the ones that work, discard the ones that don’t.

Meditate on this

Meditation is one of my all-time favourite energy boosters. Giving myself 15 minutes of peace each morning puts me in a frame of mind that is ready for whatever challenges are set to come my way. Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t guarantee every day is smooth sailing. It does help me be more able to navigate the rough seas.

Proven in multiple studies to increase brain matter, meditation helps you manage feelings of overwhelm, depression, anxiety and a bunch of other energy-sapping emotions. It helps you gain perspective and with it, distance from thoughts that pull you away from your focus and flow. What’s more, it doesn’t have to be done for long, or at the beginning of the day to reap the energy-boosting and calming rewards. 10 minutes at any time of day that works for you is going to help.

Mix it up a little

Enjoyable activities come in all shapes and sizes. To boost your energy levels, follow a passion where it’s leading you. For me, that’s usually writing and a bit of crafty journaling. Other things lift my mood and energy too, it depends on the day and what I’ve got going on. Some people might like drawing, arranging flowers, baking, any number of things. What’s important here is to find a creative task you enjoy. It’s good for you. Your mind and body will thank you for it — not to mention the people around you. You’ll be happier, kinder and easier to get along with.

If you’re having a bit of a tough day and you can feel your energy leaking away, try mixing up some cake batter, crafting a page in your journal, or taking 5 minutes to sketch. Switching to an enjoyable creative activity boosts your mood and takes your brain’s energy away from the limbic system that’s geared towards assumptions, short-cuts and flight or fight reactions. Instead, it’ll move to your prefrontal cortex where you can relax a little and lean into building mental energy rather than sapping it.

Clutter be gone!

Physical clutter can make you feel overwhelmed. Just as surely as physical clutter, mental clutter can too. Having lots on your mind is an excellent way to drain your energy. Trying to remember all those things that need doing or points that need including in your report, keeps your mind firing in overdrive. It’s a drain on your energy.

Write things down. Best done at the start of the day, or beginning of a particularly involved task, lists create room in your mind and help to calm swirling thoughts. A list is a simple plan of action, a way to create structure from chaos. Embrace the to-do list, the shopping list, the prioritisation list and the checklist. It’ll remove clutter from your mind and stop you spending needless energy on trying to hold the minute in your consciousness from second to second.

Give thanks

Remembering and noting all the things we have to be thankful for fills our hearts and minds with positive energy. When we consciously give thanks for something, our brain releases dopamine – one of our feel-good chemicals. This turns on the learning centres of our brain and helps us feel more motivated and happy. It doesn’t matter if the thing we’re grateful for is big or small, the act of being grateful is enough. Writing down what we feel grateful for compounds the beneficial effects of gratitude.

People who actively practise gratitude regularly report higher levels of wellbeing, happiness and satisfaction with their lives. They also report less attachment to negative emotions and fewer instances of anxiety, depression and loneliness. Do this regularly at any time of day that works best for you.

Soothing sounds

Music is a quick and simple way to lift your mood and energy levels with it. Put together a Spotify playlist that gets you smiling. Upbeat music or soothing classical can calm your nerves, lift your mood and pull you out of a funk. There’s lots of science behind it, but we’ve known it or centuries, poets have waxed lyrical about the benefits of music well before science investigated its effects on us. Choose pick-me-up tunes, leave the sad, depressing tones for another time.

“Music has charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rock or bend a knotted oak…”

William Cosgreve

17th century British Poet

A breath of fresh air

Head outside for a ten-minute break to let the sunshine and fresh air work their magic on you! Sunlight gives us the essential vitamin D we need to boost our energy. The fresh air is great for your digestion, will improve your blood pressure and heart rate, strengthen your immune system and sharpen your mind. So, step away from whatever you’re doing and head outside for 10 minutes to boost your energy and improve your mood.

Puzzle it out

Stimulating our minds is a great way to boost our energy levels. The trick is not to overwork it, but allow it to creatively play. Taking time for a puzzle is a great way to do this. Jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzle, word search, quick quizzes or simple Sudoku. Find the midway point between brain twistingly hard and so easy you can do it standing on your head. That should be the right place to be boosting energy rather than sapping it away.

Any and all of these activities can be scattered through your day to keep you functioning at optimal energy levels. Try mixing it up for the best results. Incorporate a puzzle and meditation one day, try baking and lists on another, throw in some thankfulness and fresh air with wild abandon. Find the optimal tasks that work or you and then add them to each day. I promise you’ll see your energy levels rise and you won’t need to log extra hours at the virtual office to get things done. Managing energy is a far better strategy than clocking more time. Time is finite, energy is endless if you manage it right.

Vic Womersley is a freelance writer who regularly writes on Medium about marketing, mental health & wellbeing, alcohol, and other topics that grab her interest. You can sign up for her monthly email to receive free links to her work or follow her on Medium to learn about the new things she’s learning about life, writing and freelancing. You’ll also find her on Facebook, Twitter and can see her client work online.