You may have seen my post on LinkedIn where I talked about testing out an energy audit of my calendar. The energy audit has also come up in coaching sessions as many of my clients have been experiencing extreme overwhelm. Y’all have consistently talked about being stretched too thin, being exhausted, and lacking excess energy to do the things that you love and are excited about because there is just no reserve.
Why does it matter? You’re human! I know some think it’s a given but so many of y’all are holding on to your superwoman martyr costumes that I needed to type it anyway. The really real is that how you spend your time – what’s on your calendar – tells the story of what you believe is important (personally or because of external pressure). So, despite what you say, your calendar is a values statement.
So what exactly is an energy audit?
The concept of energy audit was actually introduced to me by my colleague, Tracie Jae. The idea is that you can start being more mindful about how your leadership styles, work environment, personality, etc. impact your work. I’ve broken down the energy audit in three components.
The first is that you have a centralized calendar system. It really doesn’t matter what type of calendar but it does matter that you have ONE. Those of y’all still trying to navigate paper and digital calendars at the same time are fascinating. You can argue me down that it works for you even as you keep double booking. Stop it 🙂 ALL of your events and activities need to be in one place. This is the place you go to look to see what you have going on each day, week or month across all of your obligations (work, home, self). A consistently utilized calendar is a boundary, y’all. Things floating around in your head or on random stickies don’t get done.
Your eyes are bigger than your stomach. Your yeses exceed your availability.
Having everything written down allows you to think about how much energy each item on my calendar costs you. Whether you timeblock or color-code, take a look at the things that make it on your calendar. What do they tell you about what’s important to you? Meetings? Writing time? Strategy? Supervision? Emails? We live complex lives, so to think that our calendars are neutral is naive. Each item on your calendar tells you if you’re spending time on things that aligned to your job, purpose, family, etc. An audit of your calendar tells you how much energy it takes to get each item done. Take a look at what was on your calendar and what type of energy you expended on each item. Did you have a day full of meetings that have nothing to do with your job and just put you further and further behind? How did you feel at the end of that day? If you felt anything less than ‘ok’ is there anything you had control of that would have left you with some energy. Look back at the activities on your calendar to see where and how you spent your time. Where there any energy producing activities? If not, what changes can you make next week to change things up?
Doing an energy audit allows you to see whether or not how you spend your time is deeply aligned to your purpose/passion/vision/career goals. When you operate outside of our gifts, talents, and roles you are using extra energy. There more you are out of alignment the more time you need to recover and replenish your energy. Rest means in taking pauses and building in breaks to sustaining yourself, especially when your work or team you’re on are misaligned due to circumstances (i.e. Sis has bills to pay). When a new job isn’t a quick solution, you can orcharstrate rest by giving yourself buffer time before or after meetings to prep or to decompress. You can also make sure you are appropriately delegating and using your time with your supervisor to realign your work/role, if at all possible.
Energy audits aren’t easy but they provide important information. They help you better understand where and how you’re spending your time so you can prepare. You are worth the 15 minutes between meetings that you need to shake off a toxic team or to nourish your body. Energy audits are especially important when you lead in spaces where you don’t have the position or power to control your calendar. When it’s safe, voice the things you need to bring the greatest value to your work. When it’s not safe, do your best to use your energy in the most strategic and impactful way. Either way, commit to trying something. Test an energy audit and notice what you learn. Are there a ny change in your disposition and mind? What is your energy like after a day of aligning your calendar to your values and purpose? If you do an energy audit, let me know how it goes.