Managing Your Personal Energy: The Physical Battery
What if you could improve the physical energy you wake up to each day?
In the first article in Genesis Leadership Consultant Francesca Mereu's Personal Energy Management series, we discussed how there are five “batteries” that drive and sustain your energy in different and meaningful ways via the Personal Energy Management framework. These are:
- Physical: your health, stamina, and vitality.
- Mental: your clarity, focus, and intellectual agility.
- Emotional: your resilience, creativity, and emotional self-regulation.
- Spiritual: your values, motivation, and sense of purpose.
- Social: your surroundings, relationships and professional environment.
Each of the five batteries reflects a unique dimension of your total energy supply and contributes to your overall feeling of well being. Looking at energy through this framework assumes the following key concepts:
- Your energy fluctuates.
- You can learn how to recharge your batteries more effectively by identifying what energizes you and what drains you.
- It isn’t about how much or how little energy you have; it’s about how well you benefit from the energy you have available to you at a given moment in time.
In this article, let’s dive deeper into how you can manage your physical energy by strategically identifying behaviors and habits that have the greatest impact.
What factors affect your physical energy?
Our physical energy is the human expression of the amount of energy we possess at any point in time and it is has the most palpable effect on us. When you feel healthy and well rested, you can feel that something is going well. Conversely, when you are feeling sluggish, it’s a sign that you need to change something.
This dimension is also where most of us already know what would be better for us, and yet we struggle to act. How many times have you set goals such as, “go to bed earlier,” “reduce my daily coffee intake,” or “take more walks,” and not followed through with practicing them as long-term habits?
Each battery is recharged or drained by specific factors that include things like your daily habits, your perceptions, and your lifestyle. There are five main factors that impact your Physical Energy:
1) Sleep: the quality and quantity of your rest
“How rested do I feel on a daily basis? Do I wake up feeling refreshed or worn out?”
2) Nutrition: the quantity and the quality of your daily food and drink
“How varied is my diet? How often do I need tea or coffee to wake up?”
3) Movement: the quantity and the quality of your physical activities
“How much movement do I get in my day? Do I stand up and walk around enough to counterbalance my sedentary lifestyle?”
4) Overall Health: your overarching wellbeing, including long-term conditions
“How healthy do I feel as a whole? Am I concerned with any chronic issues?”
5) Your Signature Factor: something which has a big impact and is unique to you.
“What do I really need to pay attention to in order to stay healthy and vibrant?
Let’s look at each of these factors in practice.
How can you optimize your Physical Energy?
When you consider your energy, you want to reduce what drains it and increase what recharges it. The better you know your “drainers” and “rechargers” the easier it is to manage and optimize your physical energy.
I will illustrate how you can begin to take control of your physical energy by sharing a recent coaching experience with one of my clients, who we will call Jane.
Step 1: Reflect on the impact of the main factors
I asked Jane the following three questions, which I find useful in guiding reflections about physical energy:
- “Which factor is my most vulnerable?”
- “Which factor needs changing most often?”
- “Which factor requires a consistent routine?”
Here is what Jane shared:
- Nutrition is my most vulnerable. During the winter, I crave more sugar and carbs. If I start, I create a downward spiral that affects first my nutrition and then my sleep and health.
- Movement needs change the most often. I love doing yoga, and yet my motivation goes down if I get nailed down to a consistent, unchanging routine.
- Sleep needs the most routine. Since I’m often traveling, it can be easy for the quality and quantity of my sleep to get disrupted by where and when I’m going to bed.
- Overall health is very good so for now I feel that I am fine.
- Sleeping at least 8 hours per night is my ‘signature factor’. Short term, I can cut on movement and even on time spent with meals to ensure that I sleep enough.
Step 2: Identify what to improve… in small steps
Then, it’s time to ask yourself, “What could I do differently?” Remember, you want to identify and minimize your "Drainers" and maximize your "Rechargers." This may seem like common sense, but oftentimes it is not common practice.
Building on her self-assessment above, Jane committed to make the following adjustments:
- To support my nutrition: I will reduce by half the sugar I put in my tea and eat a small apple instead of two biscuits.
- To support my movement: Every two weeks, I will integrate one new move into my routine to keep it fresh.
- To support my sleep: I will turn off my computer one hour before I go to sleep, no matter where I am or what time it is.
The key is to always consider small, repeatable steps that you can easily integrate into your daily life. I call them mini-habits: actions that are easily choreographed into your routine (e.g., 4-5 times a week) and which can be done even when you are tired and busy.
Use the Energy Budget for extra help
To assess your Drainers and Rechargers for each battery, you can download the Energy Budget: a step-by-step template to help you reflect in greater depth. If you want to explore even further, consider taking the Energy Check to assess how you are currently taking care of your five batteries.
Francesca Giulia Mereu
An executive coach with more than 20 years’ experience, Francesca Giulia Mereu is also author of the book Recharge Your Batteries. She regularly works with Frontline Humanitarian Negotiators (CCHN) and at IMD with senior leaders of global organizations. She is a Genesis Leadership Consultant working with global clients to support transitions and development.