Refilling When You're Running on Empty

The other night I woke up at 2:30 a.m. unable to sleep. As I reflected on how depleted I felt— the result of too many early morning cross-country flights for corporate client needs, sandwiched in between coaching calls with executive leaders in crises— I realized I'd been running a bit too hard and fast.

I was exhausted. Sitting on the couch thinking of my current state, I thought to myself, I've been here before. I know what to do. The next day I decided to implement my 6-step jumpstart plan to get my energy back.

6 step plan for getting your energy back

1. Clear the clutter. 

Cleaning off my desk, clearing out old files, and answering emails always brings relief. Clearing clutter, be it in the office, living room or bedroom assists in the process of relaxing. Give yourself the gift of decluttering, even if it's in one small space. 

2. Plan for time off. 

Looking ahead at my calendar, I ensure revenue earning engagements are booked and do my best to anticipate other project priorities several months out. Next, I block dedicated, uninterrupted time for writing, leisure travel, and solitude and rest. I equally value the hustle and my power slug days. 

3. Say NO, eliminate the "maybes". 

By removing three tentative commitments from my calendar, which felt a bit stressful to undertake, I gained back four weeks of my time, not to mention the hours each project would have taken me to complete. If I lose energy thinking about a project or engagement, I eliminate it. I've learned the professional benefit of saying "yes" to my best work which happens when projects energize me. 

4. Drink water. 

Seriously, it works. After being on 6 airplane flights in a week and drinking too much coffee (to wake up) and wine (to fall asleep), I was dehydrated. Nothing cures what ails you like water.

5. Sleep. 

The other miracle cure besides water. Yesterday I took a nap. People who know me know this NEVER happens. My mom couldn't get me to take a nap at 2, why should I start now? But I allowed myself to surrender to my exhaustion, and it really helped.

6. No Should Days. 

This is my miracle cure, and it works every time. If you're like me, you might have the fear that if you slow down, relax and, gasp— get horizontal— you may never want to get up again, so you just keep going. That's when I pull a "No Should Day." On this day (usually a Sunday) I allow myself to do anything I want, but I never do anything if I feel like I "should" or have to. I can scrub the toilet, but only if I want to. Yesterday I played Gin Rummy with my niece, watched 2 movies (No Reservations and Nim's Island), took a nap, baked squash, hung out with the dog and went to bed early. This morning I woke up at 6 a.m. without my alarm and felt good as new.

If you feel like you've been sprinting and are in need of a bit of respite, try these six steps to reclaim your energy.