I suppose you could say that I’m consistently inconsistent when it comes to my energy levels. I have not got it down to a science… yet. Some days I’d rather skip the gym, go home and eat a box of Kraft dinner and watch ‘My Strange Addiction’. Other days, I’m on fire, methodically crossing tasks off my list, making it to the gym, calling my parents, dinner with friends and then knocking out a few blog posts in between, all with a bounce in my step.
I decided to reach out to some of my busiest, most high-energy friends to ask them how they deal with careers, social lives, and school, all while maintaining their energy levels.
Every hour or so I stand up and walk around, even if it is just around the university campus, just so that I can keep myself energized.
Raul Pacheco (you may know him as @Hummingbird604) professor, researcher, educator and consultant in environmental politics and policy, shared his top five ways of staying energized:
- Coffee: you can’t imagine how much I rely on caffeine! The first thing I do is I wake up, I start brewing a pot of coffee and I begin writing. As an academic I have to write research articles, slides for lectures, etc. So I keep myself caffeinated.
- Short walks: Every hour or so I stand up and walk around, even if it is just around the university campus, just so that I can keep myself energized.
- Healthy snacks: I bring fruit, yogurt and vegetables with me to campus so that I can keep a good enough content of sugar in my blood. I eat every 2-3 hours, small portions!
- Pre-planning: what makes me stay on top of things is that I pre-plan what I am doing. I live by my Google Calendar!
- Scheduling breaks: complete breaks from my work are also included in my schedule, and this includes hanging out with friends, my parents, eating healthy lunches and dinners, and the odd martini! (I personally prefer an even martini, like two, four, six…)
My friend John Tino works in the emergency room at Vancouver General Hospital and in his spare time is going to school to become a lawyer specializing in biomedical ethics and health. (No biggie, right?) So how does John manage to juggle one of the most stressful careers and law school? Here are his secret weapons:
- Caffeine: During long study sessions I always have coffee handy. It gives me the extra energy I need to focus. I don’t drink buckets. I average two cups a day when I’m studying at the most.
- Location: If I spend the whole day writing, I find staying at one location can get boring. I don’t write at home since there are too many distractions like TV and video games. I have three coffee shops that I frequent. I spend 2-3 hours writing at one coffee shop, then pack up my stuff and walk down to another. It breaks up the monotony and the walk wakes me up, getting the creative juices flowing again.
- Fitness: I make a point if staying active during my studies. I do CrossFit 3-4 times a week, play rugby once a week, and go to martial arts twice a week. It seems excessive but I find it necessary to release stress and frustrations from working in a busy ER. I tend to use CrossFit as my midday break while studying or writing. (Am I legally required to warn readers not to try this regime without first consulting a medical professional? I’m exhausted just reading that.)
- Take social media breaks: I like to take mini breaks while studying or working. I spend a minute or two checking or posting on Twitter. A two-minute break can make a huge difference on a very stressful day. Clear your head and make sure you spend that time thinking about you, not about work or school.
- Take a day off: I purposely take a day off and will not think about studying or writing papers. I go to a matinee or just sip at a coffee shop reading a book or magazine.
- Reward yourself: I reward myself by buying a little something when I finish a paper or an exam. I also make sure that I meet up with friends for drinks to ensure that I have contact with other humans.
All good insights, but I think I’ll stick with those martinis and leave the CrossFit to John.
Eating small, healthy meals at regular intervals helps keep me stay energized and alert
Speaking of fitness, my friend Ken Lewko is a personal trainer at Steve Nash gym. His days can start at 6:30 A.M and end as late at 10:30 P.M He was in the middle of two personal training clients when he and I spoke. To keep his energy up, he suggests:
- Drink more water: drinking water throughout the day and staying hydrated helps to remove toxins and revitalize the body. If you’re drinking two or more cups of coffee, you might want to try and reduce that as coffee is a diuretic and dehydrates your body. (Not sure Raul and John would like that.)
- Eat healthy, small meals: eating small, healthy meals at regular intervals helps keep me stay energized and alert. Plan your food in advance so you don’t get stuck with a three o’clock sugar craving and nothing to eat but junk food.
- Always getting enough sleep: Different people have different sleep requirements, but if you’re constantly tired for no reason, you might need to up how many hours you sleep. Try and aim for seven hours and get yourself on a sleep schedule.
- Exercise: Of course. Not only does it help you release the stresses of the day, it helps you look better and sleep better.
Take them or leave them, all sensible steps (except maybe John’s menu of physical fitness torture) to gaining and maintaining more energy throughout the day from people who have tried and tested these methods. Until next time, keep fit and have fun!