You are only allotted a certain amount of energy each day.
There is no way to authentically get an “energy boost” in the middle of the day (aside from taking a long nap), so how you spend your time and use up your energy is important if you want to do great work.
Merlin Mann is an inspirational writer and speaker, who talks about the issue of energy and time often. He inspired me to write about creating the work you dreamed of. Merlin’s idea is that if you want to do something (start a business, write a novel, become a famous painter), all you need is five minutes a day. That’s it. Everyone can afford to spend five minutes every day working on one creative thing.
But the true projects that will define your passion in life come when you are doing the work for hours on end, not for just five minutes.
That is to say: the real meat of your work won’t come from five minutes of effort, but instead, from the times when you want to stay up all night (and practically do) to finish something. Or when you spend years doing the same thing every day in order to ensure that you’re doing it right. Or when you put off everything else in your life to see that the necessary work is done.
Unfortunately you only have so much energy every day to do quality work.
This means that it’s extremely important to know both when you are most energized in the day (for me, I think it’s either early morning or late, late evening), and also what you are spending your energy on during the typical day.
If there are areas of your life where your energy could be spent doing other things (writing that novel you’ve been meaning to write, rather than playing video games, for example) then you know you already have the energy it takes to do the work, you’re just spending it in the wrong place.
This is one reason why it’s so devastating for projects to say “I’ll just do this one thing and then I’ll get started.” You won’t get started, or you’ll be too exhausted to put all of the energy you need to in the work. You’re using up your valuable energy by doing that “one thing.”
Like when you want to watch a movie before you jump into work. Or how you want to put on the perfect outfit before going out. Or when you just need to “just do some research” before sitting down to write or paint or draw or code. You’re deceiving yourself. Stop it.
That’s the value of self-observation.
Today, spend time really observing how you’re using my energy. Are you wasting energy on things that don’t need to be done?
How are you prioritizing your time and energy and are there areas where you can cut back on how much energy you’re outputting on a certain thing in order to put that energy back into the things you reallywant to be working on?