I love my job. I really do. It’s fulfilling, positive, and I learn and get to know new, amazing people every day. None the less, I sometimes find myself coming home from work too worn down to really engage with my loved ones, or pursue my hobbies.

As the flawed, overachieving human beings that we are, we often fail at managing the division of our energy during the workday in order to achieve better results in less time without getting a heart attack at the age of 45.

Energy management — are yo doing it right?

There’s a story that excellently describes the way we tend to waste a lot of our working energy. I read it in a little newspaper column the other day, and thought I’d share it here. It goes something like this:

A man walks by a lumberjack, who is cutting a tree. His legs and arms are weak from exhaustion, because the axe he is using to cut the tree is completely dull. The man asks: 

“Why don’t you sharpen that axe?”

To which the lumberjack answers:

“I don’t have time to sharpen it up, I’m too busy cutting down this tree.” 

The paradox is obvious. Let’s imagine that an average human being has 10 buckets of energy that get filled overnight. During the day, it’s up to us how we empty these buckets and where.

I think that people often forget that if they give their all to work, there will be little to no energy left for their family, and themselves. When was the last time you treated yourself to a nice dinner with your partner, made a family picnic, or had a long Thai massage with your phone turned off? It’s been a long time, I bet. And why? Because you didn’t have the time for it?

Now, think again and remember what the overworked lumberjack said.

The same goes for energy division at the office. There are plenty of tasks you need to get through during the day, but I’ve got two important points that helped me achieve better, and feel better.

1. Put the most of your daily energy on acquiring new clients and connections.

If you want to generate success, you want to extend your web and get as many new leads as possible. Getting new prospects should be the main point of your day — and the ways you can reach out are limitless. Host a webinar, write a blog, offer some free downloadable content for your clients in exchange for their contact info, or contact your current clients with ideas of how to add value to the current deals, browse through LinkedIn, get to know new people.

The amount of work it takes to work through administrative tasks is much bigger, but also much less effective. Give it its time of the day, but don’t let it eat it all up. Alternatively, get someone to do the maintenance for you. Shifting your energy flow in this way is equivalent to sharpening the proverbial axe. 

2. Do not feel guilty about resting on a long day.

The second point comes from a different direction, but it’s equally important. Managers, officers, representatives, associates: at the end of the (long and exhausting) day, we’re all people. Learn to value your free time, and don’t let work intervene with your own personal time, or your family life. One of the secrets of being good at your job is not letting it rule over you, but rule over it instead. Sometimes, all you need to give yourself an energy boost is an hour or two in the garden with a good book, or in the park with your dogs. I’ve tried it, and it really does wonders.