“One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals. And so when I hear about negative and false attacks, I really don’t invest any energy in them, because I know who I am.”
Michelle Obama (Former First Lady Of The United States)
“My encouragement: delete the energy vampires from your life, clean out all complexity, build a team around you that frees you to fly, remove anything toxic, and cherish simplicity. Because that’s where genius lives.”
Robin Sharma (Author, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari)
“If time be of all things the most precious, wasting time must be the greatest prodigality.”
Benjamin Franklin (American Politician)
A lot of people think that their most valuable resource — their most valuable asset in life — is time.
If they have more time, they can accomplish more, be more successful, and be happier.
The truth is, time has nothing to do with it.
It’s really about your mental energy.
If you’ve ever been so tired you’ve watched TV on the couch, or watched your favorite movie twice just because you were exhausted, you know what I’m talking about.
It’s your mental energy that’s a limiting factor.
Other people think it’s money.
If they had all the money in the world, they could hire all the people.
It wouldn’t matter.
It wouldn’t matter because you’d still have to make decisions.
You would still have to delegate, right?
So, you could have all the money in the world, have thousands of people employed, but if you didn’t have mental energy, if you weren’t able to make sharp decisions, you couldn’t scale, you couldn’t be successful, and you couldn’t grow.
And then finally, others always say, “Your network is your net worth” — right?
Your relationships are the most important thing in your life.
It all comes down to who you know.
You don’t matter at all.
You do matter.
Your mental energy matters.
Because you can have all the relationships in the world, but if you’re so tired that you can’t give anything to those relationships, then it doesn’t matter, right?
You can have all the time, money, and positive relationships in the world, and still feel too burnt out to enjoy them.
Why Your Mental Energy Is Your Most Valuable Asset
Your mental energy is a diminishing resource.
It’s also your most valuable asset.
It’s what allows you to be present, engage, focus, and produce.
It drives your day.
But, it depletes throughout the day.
Not just through natural depletion, but also by wasted energy on distracting tasks and people.
To make up for a lack of focus — at work in particular — the urge to overcompensate by working harder and longer to try and maintain productivity backfires.
Research published in PlosOne found that creativity and problem-solving increased during periods of rest, compared to struggling to actively problem-solve.
The brain needs breaks to create insight, and connect to creative ideas and problem-solving.
And, not just a 15-minute coffee break after 4 hours of work.
Acta Psycholoiga out of Amsterdam published supporting research showing that cognitive function actually starts to decrease when mental focus exceeds 2 hours.
The optimal length of time for intense focus, according the the (Basic Rest Activity Cycle) or B.R.A.C., is 90 minutes.
Peak performers work harder by working less by focusing intensely for two 90-120 minute periods with significant rest periods and breaks from their training/practice/work, allowing them to accomplish the same amount of work and progress in a 4-6 hour day as others putting in 8-10 hours.
But long hours, high stress, and regular distractions from disruptive people, technology, and tasks are common mental energy-depletion culprits.
A study out of Carleton university showed 50% of employees reporting increased stress as a result of increased workload, with ⅓ of their time just responding to emails each day.
But by far, the biggest distraction at work — 74% according to a study out of Cornell University — is noisy coworkers.
These are your primary predators of mental energy and where you’re wasting large, valuable chunks of productivity and time.
How To Protect Your Mental Energy
This modern, fast-paced life is misattuned to the optimal pace and function of your brain.
Given how your brain thrives, you can see how your current schedule and environment are not optimized.
The problem is that most people deplete their mental energy very rapidly throughout the day by giving it away to wasteful people.
Here’s how you’re wasting mental energy and how to stop…
1. You’re addicted to energy vampires.
You might know these.
They’re the people who dropped into your life and stayed.
Whether they were invited or not.
Whether they add value or not.
You know them because you automatically feel yourself groan when you see them coming.
Everything about them takes work to be around and after they leave you’re not only relieved, but you’re exhausted.
Your physiology tells you they’re energy vampires.
Their job is to pop in, satiate their appetite with your energy, and move on — leaving you distracted and drained.
It doesn’t matter what sense of obligation you have to them or what misplaced loyalty you’re using to excuse their presence in your life…
The bottom line is that they’re toxic and you’re passively allowing them to rob you of your most valuable asset.
You’re letting them hold you back.
And you won’t be free from them until you connect with your purpose and build a strong enough reason “why” not to have them in your life.
When you have a strong enough reason why, you won’t accept energy vampires into your life.
You won’t take a moderate approach and just tolerate them, or passive-aggressively keep your distance.
You’ll take a hard stand and cut them out of your life and then you’ll keep them out.
2. You’re addicted to negativity.
Our brain has a negativity bias.
A survival mechanism to seek out threat and mobilize a response… that doesn’t serve our modern life.
The brain is attracted to and holds onto negative information and events more than positive ones.
So, you see negativity and think, “Oh look, a problem I can help solve.”
Or, you’re just drawn to the dopamine hits of excitement you get from the negative stories.
In fact, studies show not only do we get sucked into drama because of this negativity bias, but that getting sucked into negativity or drama makes us perform worse.
In one study, a group of people who engaged with negative people prior to a test performed worse on the test than those who ignored the negative person.
You might think you have enough mental energy to go around, and that you can talk to whoever, you can engage in anything, you can fix other people’s problems, get sucked into drama, and still perform well at work.
Or, that you’ll still have enough to make sharp decisions or have time to work on your own personal project to get ahead.
It’s not possible.
What’s worse is that negativity is contagious.
You really do become like the people you spend the most time with.
So, as they seep negativity, you become it.
And, the addiction feeds itself from the inside out.
Soon, it’s not “them”, it’s you that’s the problem.
You need to take a step back and get some perspective.
You can’t force focus through a negative mindset or a negative entourage.
You have to start eliminating waste first.
Take some time alone.
Do an audit of the people in your life.
Look at who is adding to your life and what relationships are reciprocal.
Stop going to meaningless events you don’t care about with people who are energy thieves.
3. You’re addicted to distractions.
If negative people and drama aren’t sucking you in right in front of you, they’re doing it behind a screen.
Social media, emails, your personal electronic devices in general…
The tools that can be powerful networking and business growth facilitators are now a crutch you can use to avoid digging in.
Not harnessing the flood of incoming information leaves you drowning in it.
Not being strategic with your schedule leaves you at the mercy of every ding.
You just start gaining momentum and your phone rings or vibrates.
Your email notification goes off.
Your social media feed lures you in.
To learn about other people’s lives.
To wade through events and activities that don’t have anything to do with you..
These time-sucking activities don’t just waste time, they waste your mental energy.
Over half your day.
Which means, you have to work longer.
Burnout and stress-related health issues follow.
If you want to be highly productive and move towards your goals without making each day a marathon, you have to take control over your time.
Start by tracking your energy levels throughout the day.
Notice when you feel sharpest, more energized, and notice when you feel more fatigued or easily distracted.
Strategically schedule creative, highly focused tasks that require your best during the blocks of time in your day when you feel the best.
And create an environment where you turn off distractions.
Turn off your phone, lock your door, and work in a protected environment you create that you’ll work best in.
Then, schedule lower energy activities when you feel the least focused.
You’ll tackle your purpose-driven goals during your peak zones and leave things like emails and paperwork to your low zones.
This is how you eliminate mental waste and protect your mental energy from constant interruptions and overload.
No matter where you are stuck in your life right now, you are stuck because you have not been able to free up more mental energy to move forward. Stop asking yourself how you can get more time or more money. Start looking for ways to reclaim and protect your mental energy first by cutting out negative people and wasteful activities. Go on a relationship fast and be selective with only people and activities that add value to your life.Get surgical with your schedule, and disciplined with your focus, so you can leave waste behind and move forward to your goals.
To learn more about 3 Ways You Are Sabotaging Your Mental Energy, and to get instant access to exclusive training videos, case studies, insider documents, and my private online network, get on the wait list to create your Escape Plan and Achieve Intelligent Alignment.