This article was first published by Women’s Agenda.
Simple and natural strategies for boosting energy levels can provide game changers for emerging leaders.
Part one covered the power of ‘goal setting’ a leadership career.
Part two explored how to get mentors and sponsors on your team.
Leadership, done right, requires loads of energy.
You’ll need to be agile to deal with unexpected challenges that arise day to day. You’ll need to adhere to quick deadlines. And you’ll need to invest significant emotional labour to make confident decisions.
So, as an emerging leader, what tactics and habits can you develop now to prepare you?
How can you protect yourself from burning out?
Megan Dalla-Camina, a former corporate executive turned leadership coach and author who prioritises health and wellbeing, knows this space well. She experienced significant exhaustion and burnout during the early stages of her career.
Megan believes there are four actions leaders can take to boost energy levels throughout the day: sleep, meditate, exercise and eat well. Megan personally does mantra meditation in the mornings for 15 minutes and will do a second meditation in the afternoon where she simply sits and breathes. She suggests starting with the Headspace app and exploring other options from there.
Here’s what else you can do:
Attack decision fatigue
A leadership career requires constant decision-making, which is exhausting. So it can help to initiate a clear routine and processes to eliminate trivial decisions from bogging you down. Work out ahead of time what you’ll be eating during the day, what you’ll be wearing and your mode of transport.
Know your productivity times
Are you a morning person? An evening person? Are there certain times of day when you can tackle a big project alone, and other times when you’d prefer to be in meetings and collaborating with team members? Know your personal productivity rhythms and try to schedule your day accordingly.
Resolve conflicts quickly
Things that linger, fester. And things that fester become mentally exhausting. Addressing conflict immediately will give you and your team a better chance of moving on quickly and saving your mental energy for more productive matters. Addressing conflict head-on can also help you avoid taking it home.
Get adequate sleep
As tempting as it is to sacrifice sleep to gain more hours in the day for work, lack of sleep will affect your cognitive ability and increase your chance of burnout later on. While waking early and at the same time every day is useful, also make sure you’re consistently going to bed early. Health professionals recommend at least eight hours of Zs as optimal for adults. If you have difficulties sleeping, practicing ‘good sleep hygiene’ may help, including adjusting your sleeping environment and turning off screens well before bedtime.
Meditation and mindfulness
Some of the most successful leaders in the world swear by meditation, including Oprah Winfrey and Arianna Huffington. They prioritise their meditation, using it to reduce stress and anxiety while also increasing their concentration and focus. Research shows it can aid sleep, assist with decision fatigue and help in building resilience. The excellent Headspace app is just one of many you can use to start your own meditation routine.
Good nutrition is vital to increase your productivity at work—but can quickly fall by the wayside during busy periods and against big deadlines. Try sticking to small and regular healthy meals that you can bring to work or access easily when there. Keep nutritious snacks like fruits, vegetables and nuts in your desk, and try to keep track of what you’re filling your body with.
Break up your day with exercise
Exercise can provide an excellent way to break your day in two and enable you to reset and regroup for the afternoon, even if it’s just a lunchtime walk. Exercise has been found to immediately improve your mood, with as little as 20 minutes a day being found to boost energy. This is good news for busy professionals who find it challenging to make time in the day for themselves.
Search for sunshine
Bask in it. Enjoy it. Let it revive you, even for just a couple of minutes a day.
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