When I first started working from home, my main concern wasn’t a lack of time as you might suspect, but lack of energy.
While your age doesn’t necessarily define how much energy you have, there are not too many people who have the exact same amount of get up and go in their forties, as they had in their twenties.
When you get older, you can eat well, get enough sleep and still occasionally run out of steam. Sad but true.
Here are 10 ways to have more energy (particularly if you work from home). I’m still working on mastering some of these myself, so we can work on them together!
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Work with passion
Doing a job you hate will suck the energy right out of you.
If you hate your job, you might feel sluggish, tired, fatigued and exhausted.
This doesn’t mean that you won’t suffer from tiredness or lack of energy working on a business that you totally love either.
You will most likely have a lot more enthusiasm, drive and motivation, but there will still be times when your energy levels are low.
Regardless of what you do for a living, if you want to have more energy focus on the parts of your job that you like and enjoy doing.
Related post – What To Do When You Hate Your Job
Work to your natural bio-rhythms
When I was working in an office for an employer, my energy level would slump at around 2 pm every day.
I naively thought that once I was working for myself this would change. Yet surprise, surprise it didn’t.
Between 2 – 4.30, my energy is at its lowest for the day.
On the odd occasion, when I have felt totally exhausted I’ve actually had a sleep during this time (though I definitely don’t make a habit out of it).
The interesting thing is after 5 pm, I’m ready to go back to work again. I can usually get a lot of productive work done between 5 and 8 pm. As it turns out my most productive hours are 6 am – 2 pm and 5 pm – 8 pm.
Most of the time, I try to work through my 2 pm slump. Some days I am successful and get a lot done, while other days are a complete flop.
What I need to do is embrace the hours that I work best and step away from work during those low energy hours.
Clearly if you work in an office you can’t take a nap under your desk from 2 – 4.30 (or whenever you low energy time is) but you can plan ahead and try to schedule tasks that require less brain power at those times. If your job has an element of boring administration work, your afternoon slump might be a good time to get this work done.
Another thing that has come as a complete surprise is that I am a morning person.
For someone who was always a bit of a night owl growing up, I write best in the morning. Mornings are definitely when I am at my most creative and when I also have the most energy. I use this to my advantage as much as possible by not being distracted and getting straight into writing first thing in the morning.
Know when to push yourself
It goes without saying that sometimes you need to push yourself.
You might be exhausted, tired and ready to veg on the couch but you need to push yourself to get the job done.
Know when to take time out
You need to know when it’s time to give your body a rest. Over the last couple of months, I’ve often worked 7 days a week, though I do tend to take Sunday afternoon off.
When I work every day for weeks in a row, I find my energy levels come Monday morning are incredibly low (and Monday is normally my most productive and energised day).
The first time I was exhausted on Monday, I was surprised, until I realized I had worked several days straight without any sort of decent break.
I was tired, because I wasn’t giving myself time to rest and recharge.
Get in the flow
This doesn’t mean waiting for your creative muse to strike if you are a writer, blogger or any other sort of creative.
If you are running a business or trying to start one, this sort of hit and miss work when you are inspired stuff, just won’t cut it. Believe me, I wish it did.
When you are in the flow or on a roll (or whatever you choose to call it) it’s important to get as much quality work done in these sittings as possible.
Personally, this is when I am at my happiest working.
Get up and move
Writers, bloggers and basically anyone who works on a computer tend to spend a lot of time sitting.
That’s a lot of time being sedentary. On some days, that alone can make you feel tired or at least sluggish.
People are often telling me to go for a walk to clear my head. Since I don’t own a motor vehicle, I tend to walk a fair bit anyway, which is good. Walking is a great way of brainstorming and coming up with blogging ideas.
If you work in an office, the same applies – get up and move. Take a small walk, even if it’s to the photocopier and back.
If you can’t get out to do some exercise, then at least stretch. Take a lesson from my gorgeous cat. Stretch, stretch and stretch some more.
Have a good work chair
I didn’t have a decent work chair for a long time when I first started working from home.
I would spend hours every day working on one of my dining room chairs. For someone who was seeing a chiropractor every three weeks with neck and back pain, this was a pretty stupid idea.
A friend of mine offered to buy me a proper chair and while I normally like to pay my own way, I gladly jumped at his offer.
Having a better chair definitely improved my energy and productivity.
Back and neck pain (and the headaches that accompany them) are a total energy killer.
Whether you work for yourself or for someone else make sure you have access to a decent chair if you are going to be sitting for long periods of time.
Don’t drink too much alcohol
The old cliché of the writer that drinks for inspiration; is just that a cliché. In theory it sounds fine, but in practice it’s a terrible idea.
Back when I starting writing for fun, I would happily sit at my keyboard on a Sunday afternoon, glass of red wine in hand tapping away at the keyboard.
Now I notice if I drink too much (and believe me that doesn’t take much nowadays because I’m such a lightweight drinker) the next day my head feels fuzzy, I don’t concentrate as well and my energy levels are low.
I don’t even have to have a hangover to feel like this.
If you want to stay alert and focused and have your brain firing on all cylinders, cut down on how much alcohol you drink.
Better still, cut alcohol out completely during the week and save a glass of vino for the weekend.
Have a set work plan for the day
Sitting down at my desk at 6 am and thinking what am I supposed to be doing today, always results in a less productive day than if I already have my work planned out for me.
Most days I plan ahead but occasionally I get behind in my planning and without fail it always affects my productivity (and my energy levels).
Make sure you know exactly what you are meant to be working on the minute you sit down at your desk.
Again this applies to working in an office as well. Granted your day might go quite to plan due to outside influences but you should still have a plan of what you want to achieve for the day.
Having a messy office can also be a drain on your energy, not to mention a waste of your time if you are constantly searching for things.
Piles of paper will not fill you with joy. More likely you’ll feel exhausted just looking at them!
Related post – How to Stick To Your Plan
Watch your stress levels
I was going to write about eating correctly and getting enough sleep, but let’s face it, most of us know about that already (regardless of whether we actually do what is best for us).
Though we all know we should be eating better, a situation that tires us out more than anything else is stress.
Worry, anxiety and stress can zap your energy levels in record time.
Now while I would love to sit here and tell you not to worry, that would make me a total hypocrite since I woke up this morning worried about quite a few things. So much so that my brother (who is staying with me at the moment) asked me if I was okay and if I slept all right. I apparently looked stressed at 6.30 this morning. Not good!
What I can say about worry is try to keep it to a minimum.
The most obvious thing is try not to worry about things that have not happened.
We have enough problems to deal with that actually happen without worrying about stuff that might happen.
Energy is one of your greatest resources. Know what energizes you and be aware of what drains your energy. Use this knowledge wisely to have more energy.
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I work from home part-time. However, I also share a small apartment with my parents, sister, fiance, and our two cats. I’ve decided I need to not work from home anymore, and get out of the house to do my writing. There are just way too many distractions, and having my laptop plugged into a power source enables me to do way too much surfing instead of writing. I’ve decided that, after Christmas, I am going to spend two hours a day writing at a cafe or something. My laptop battery only lasts about that long, so I foresee some great productivity!
Great to see you here again. I hope all is going well for you.
Wow your house sounds like it would be a busy place! Great to see you have two cats, I am a big cat fan, though one keeps me busy enough. Probably because I spoil him rotten but that is a whole different story.
Great idea on going to a cafe to write. I guess the one good thing about having a short battery life is that is forces you to get a lot done in a short amount of time. Guess that can’t be a bad thing really. I tried writing in a cafe and the library once but found it too distracting. I am lucky at home though I can work up in my office without any noise or distractions.
I hear you on the having your laptop plugged in and being able to surf the net. As great as the Internet is, and lord knows I panic the moment the connection goes down, it would be good to voluntarily be away from it more often. I have a short story comp I would like to enter next month but I need to really get stuck into writing to hit the deadline. Not using the Internet for a while would definitely help in that regard.
You will have to report back on how it goes writing in a cafe. Would love to hear how you go.
Always so lovely to see you here.
I hope you have a Merry Christmas!
Things are actually going pretty well! I’ve been kind of stressed, but as the holidays get closer it’s getting a lot better. How are you?
My house is super busy. I have no idea how we do it. My father grew up in the same house and I marvel all the time at how they did it. It’s a three family home and the first and second floor are family, too, and the house itself has seen us through four generations now. I love the memories we have here, but Mike and I really want our own place.
I used to go to the Barnes and Noble Starbucks cafe all the time to write and do some other work. It worked out really well for my productivity. Then I set up a little corner for myself in the house and slowly but surely stopped going to the cafe. It sucked not being able to plug in to a power source — they don’t have any outlets that the public can use — and I had a lot of work to do. I was a web designer at the time, so I spent much more than two hours going at it. I’ve realized I can actually get a lot of writing done in two hours. I average 1,000-1,500 words an hour, depending on how well the words are flowing. For some reason, being in the cafe is a lot less distracting than the house. I so envy your office! Have you done a post on your setup? I’d love to see it!
It’s funny, because I also panic the second the internet goes out, but man am I more productive when it’s gone! When we had no power, I went out to charge up then came home and did some writing in the two hours my battery lasted. I got a lot done.
I just entered a couple of stories into contests. I’ve been trying to get my work out there and it’s been nerve racking but exciting. I hope you get to write something in time. I always seem to find contests that are closing in a few weeks (or even days), so I so know how it feels to be working against the clock. Luckily I already had some stories written. I’ve just been looking for markets for them (which is really difficult for me). Let me know whether you get to submit!
I’ll make sure to let you know how it goes. I’m taking a break from blogging for a few weeks, and trying to stay away from Twitter so that I can be more productive and get my brother-in-law’s website done before Christmas (I’ve found that, after not having built any websites in almost a year, I really don’t remember how to code anymore), but after the holidays and some R&R, I am going to sit down and get some things in order so that I can do more writing and, most importantly, get that writing out there.
Merry Christmas to you, too!