As a runner, I recognize that I only have a certain amount of energy to run a distance at a certain pace. By fueling my body with the right types of food and energy bars, I am able to incrementally increase my maximum output. Running a marathon is a great example. On a normal day, running 26.2 miles is outside my physical capacity. But with some training and slow stepping up of my mileage, I am able to build my body’s energy capacity to that level. Mental energy is no different. Our ability to think, smile, create, walk and chew gum has a finite energy source. On a typical day, my mental energy level is at its highest around 7 am and at its lowest after dinner. The importance of managing mental energy toward success doesn’t stop with knowing your mental time clock. This is nothing new. Perhaps more important is focusing your mental “spend” on the things that matter. The other day I as I was driving home from a week long meeting when I received a frustrating phone call regarding a returned check to my Chevron credit card. After 45 minutes we realized the mistake and remedied it. However, I was exhausted. It took a large portion of my mental energy. Each and every day you and I both recharge our physical and mental batteries as we sleep. By focused training like reading, engaging conversations, audio programs, and meditation, you increase your mental capacity. If you’re doing this, keep doing it, if you’re not, you should. During a typical day, you also spend that energy on important things such as writing, talking with your kids, working on projects at work, and planning for the future. Unfortunately, things like my Chevron credit card phone call interrupt the normal flow and “steal” some of that energy.
Awareness of the limits of your mental energy gives you a sense of urgency or a desire to protect the things you are doing. Just like time management, mental management is a must have skill for a successful life.
Of course, interruptions do happen and sometimes are important to handle. You can’t control that. Here is a list of 3 things I recommend to keep mental energy at its best: