Studies show that people have a limited amount of mental energy to spend each day. Therefore, as an entrepreneur, you should pay close attention to how you are using yours, because it is one of the most valuable resources you have.
So, what is mental energy? It is the principle that powers mental processes, which includes perception, memory, and thinking. Our brains are constantly working at many different levels. And every time we exercise our mind, we are consuming some of that mental energy.
As qualified Naturopath, Nutritionist, and Western Medical Herbalist, Renée Leonard-Stainton recommends, one of the best ways to boost your energy levels and prevent burn out is to “listen and respond to your body’s cues for rest”.
This is because sleeping is the only way we can recharge our mental energy.
7 Steps to Optimizing Your Mental Energy
How we administrate the energy that is available in our minds will be crucial to enabling us to work more efficiently. As an entrepreneur or a busy professional, you may want to follow these seven tips, to help optimize the use of your mental energy and improve your work-life balance when growing your career:
1. Train Your Brain to Practice Single-Tasking
By doing one thing at a time, you will not only be more productive, but you will also save the energy consumed when refocusing. There is an actual metabolic cost to multitasking. As neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin explains,
“It turns out that switching back and forth between jobs burns more oxygenated glucose – your brain’s fuel – and leads to mental exhaustion more quickly than focusing on one task at a time.”
2. Put Into Practice the ’80/20 Rule’
The 80/20 Rule is based on a simple principle: 20% of the tasks, deliver 80% of your firm’s profits.
So how can you apply this rule to optimize the use of your mental energy?
Identifying your most crucial activities and focusing most of your mental strength on them will be essential for success. Put your mental energy in the 20% that really matters, then work your way down to implement the other 80% of the work that is still important, but doesn’t have as big an impact on your overall success.
3. ‘Eat That Frog’ in the Morning
Author of the best-selling book ‘Eat that frog: 21 Great ways to stop procrastinating’, Brian Tracy, explains why the first thing you should do each morning is to eat a live frog.
And your ‘frog’ is your biggest, most important task.
But, how can you identify that duty every morning? As Brian Tracy explains, it will generally be that one job you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it. You probably know what that is now, right?
4. Build Habits & Routines
Routines are critical to be productive and get more done, but also to conserve energy and maximize it. Once we repeat the same task enough times to interiorize it, a minimal amount of energy is required to perform it.
You have experienced this in many areas of your life without realizing it: when you have a shower, when you eat, or when you drive to work for example. It is sometimes even hard to remember how you did these things.
A good practice to optimize mental energy is to pay attention to what works better for you and build daily routines that, once you interiorize them, will save you a considerable amount of psychological energy.
5. Avoid Making Use of Your Willpower
At first glance, this may seem like a contradiction, but willpower actually uses up a large sum of mental energy. This is why, once again, interiorizing routines in your life will help you save mental energy. In other words, if you do not have to use your willpower to avoid a temptation, you will be keeping more mental energy to use in other important issues.
6. Set Up the Right Working Environment
Environmental factors in your workplace will also have an effect on your mental energy levels. Some essential aspects such as having natural light or listening to the right type of music, after often overlooked, but will have a significant impact on the amount of daily mental energy you consume.
7. Unsubscribe from Email Lists
You have probably subscribed to many different newsletters throughout your career. But how many of those do you actually read? Look through your last emails and unsubscribe from those newsletters you haven’t opened for a long time.
Instead of doing it manually, you can use tools such as Unroll.me to unsubscribe faster. If you manage to reduce your distractions by receiving less irrelevant emails, you will be keeping more mental energy for what really matters.
Overall, if you work for yourself, it is crucial to take control of your time. Using your daily mental energy wisely, you will be more efficient. And getting the right things done in less time will lead to more free time and a more satisfying work-life balance.
Here is a quick recap of the 7 steps to help you optimize your mental energy available for the day:
- Train your brain to practice single-tasking
- Put into practice the ’80/20 rule’
- ‘Eat that frog’ in the morning
- Build habits and routines
- Avoid making use of your willpower
- Set up the right working environment
- Unsubscribe from email lists