Rushed and relentless: four main wellsprings of replenishing energy

In his book "The Power of Full Engagement" Tony Schwartz writes: "We live in digital time. Our rhythms are rushed, rapid fire and relentless. We celebrate breadth rather than depth, quick reaction more than considered reflection. We skim across the surface, alighting for brief moments at dozens of destinations but rarely remaining for long at any one. We race through our lives without pausing to consider who we really want to be or where we really want to go. We're wired up but we're melting down.
Most of us are just trying to do the best that we can. When demand exceeds our capacity, we begin to make expedient choices that get us through our days and nights, but take a toll over time. We survive on too little sleep, wolf down fast foods on the run, fuel up with coffee and cool down with alcohol and sleeping pills. Faced with relentless demands at work, we become short-tempered and easily distracted. We return home from long days at work feeling exhausted and often experience our families not as a source of joy and renewal, but as one more demand in an already overburdened life.
We walk around with day planners and to-do lists, smartphones, smart watches and pop-up reminders on our computers — all designed to help us manage our time better. We take pride in our ability to multitask, and we wear our willingness to put in long hours as a badge of honor. The term 24/7 describes a world in which work never ends. We use words like obsessed, crazed and overwhelmed not to describe insanity, but instead to characterize our everyday lives.
Feeling forever starved for time, we assume that we have no choice but to cram as much as possible into every day. But managing time efficiently is no guarantee that we will bring sufficient energy to whatever it is we are doing."
The core problem with working longer hours is that time is a finite resource. Energy is a different story. Defined in physics as the capacity to work, energy comes from four main wellsprings in human beings: the body, emotions, mind, and spirit. In each, energy can be systematically expanded and regularly renewed by establishing specific rituals—behaviors that are intentionally practiced and precisely scheduled, with the goal of making them unconscious and automatic as quickly as possible.
Principle #1
Full power requires tapping into four interrelated sources of energy: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. The human being is a complex energy system; to tap into full power, all sources of energy must be utilized. One cannot rely on only one of them, nor can one do without any of them, for they are all deeply interconnected.
Principle #2
Because our energy capacity diminishes with both over- and under-utilization of energy, we must maintain a balance between energy expenditure and energy storage. To maintain a powerful rhythm in our lives, we must learn to expend and renew energy rhythmically. The richest, happiest, and most productive life is characterized by the ability to devote ourselves fully to the tasks at hand, but to periodically disengage and recover completely. But most of us live our lives as if running an endless marathon, pushing ourselves well beyond our health tolerance. We maintain a constant level of thought and emotional activity, but only expend these types of energy without thinking about their recovery. Along the way, we are subjected to slow but inexorable wear and tear.
Principle #3
To increase the capacity of our energy reserves, we must go beyond our normal rates of energy expenditure, that is, we must train as systematically as the best athletes do.
We build our emotional, mental, and spiritual energy reserves in the same way we build our physical strength reserves. We develop all our qualities by expending the right kinds of energy beyond our normal limits and then recovering. If you train your muscles without reaching fatigue, that is, without going beyond their limits, they will not develop, and as you age, they will lose strength.
Principle #4
Positive energy rituals and are the key to achieving full power and consistent high performance.
Change is difficult. We are slaves to our habits. Most of what we do is based on automatism and is not controlled by consciousness. We are likely to do today what we did yesterday. All attempts at change are stymied by the impossibility of long-term repetition of conscious effort. Willpower and discipline are much more limited resources than many people realize. If you have to think about an action every time you do it, you probably won't be able to do it for too long. Habitual behavior has a powerful magnetic effect on us.

1. Physical Energy:

The importance of physical energy seems obvious for athletes and people engaged in hard physical labor. Since everyone else is evaluated mainly on intellectual performance, we tend to underestimate the extent to which physical energy influences their performance. It is not uncommon to equate the impact of physical fitness on work performance to zero. In fact, physical energy is a fundamental source of motion - even for the most sedentary types of work. Not only is it the foundation of vitality, but it also influences our ability to manage our emotions, maintain concentration, create and simply stay on track.
  • Exercise: Engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming.
  • Nutrition: Eat balanced meals that include a variety of nutrients; focus on consuming whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. Establish a consistent sleep schedule and create a bedtime routine that promotes relaxation.
  • Micro-Breaks: Take brief breaks every 90 minutes during work to stretch or do light physical activity to rejuvenate your body and prevent fatigue.
Janice Omadeke, CEO and founder of The Mentor Method, offers a tip on maintaining physical activity: "Even when my schedule is back-to-back, I block out 30 minutes for a quick workout or a walk. It’s a non-negotiable part of my day that keeps me energized."

2. Emotional Energy

Physical energy is merely fuel to "ignite" our emotional talents and skills. To perform at our highest level of productivity, we must experience positive emotions based on joy, challenge, adventure, and opportunity. Emotions based on threat or lack of something - fear, frustration, anger, sadness - only have a damaging effect on our effectiveness and are linked to the production of stress hormones, especially cortisol. We can define "emotional intelligence" as the ability to manage our emotions in order to achieve high levels of positive energy and develop full power. Simply put, the keys to achieving a positive emotional state are self-confidence, self-control, communication skills, and empathy (the ability to empathize). The smaller, supportive "muscles" are patience, openness, trust and enjoyment.
  • Mindfulness Meditation: Practice mindfulness for a few minutes each day to enhance emotional stability and reduce stress.
  • Gratitude Journaling: Spend a few minutes each day writing down things you are grateful for to boost positivity and emotional resilience.
  • Social Connections: Regularly connect with friends and family who uplift you, even if it's just a brief phone call or text exchange to share support and laughter.
  • Deep Breathing: Use deep breathing exercises to manage stress in the moment and maintain calmness.
Julia Hartz, co-founder and CEO of Eventbrite, on emotional connection: "I schedule weekly check-ins with my team, not just to discuss work but to share personal wins and stresses. It helps us bond and manage the emotional highs and lows together."

3. Mental Energy:

Nothing hinders effectiveness more than an inability to focus on the task at hand. To perform at the highest level of efficiency, you need to maintain concentration, to switch freely between the broad and narrow context of the task, between its internal content and external circumstances. In addition, you need a reserve of realistic optimism, as Tony Schwartz calls it. This paradoxical notion includes accepting the world as it is, combined with a positive attitude toward achieving the desired result.
  • Focused Work Periods: Implement the Pomodoro Technique by working in focused bursts of 25 minutes followed by a 5-minute break.
  • Waverox Mind Tracker. The Productivity function of the app allows determining the most favorable time for work and rest. It is built on the basic principles of the pomodoro system but also considers the individual’s state, based on electroencephalogram (EEG) signals. The algorithm determines the degree of a so-called accumulated fatigue real-time, which is implied by a combination of several EEG metrics, including fatigue score, alpha gravity, and concentration index
  • Goal Setting: Set clear, achievable goals for each day to provide direction and a sense of accomplishment.
  • Learning: Dedicate time to learning new skills or hobbies that stimulate your mind and expand your knowledge.
  • Digital Detox: Schedule regular times where you disconnect from digital devices to reduce cognitive overload and restore mental clarity.
Drew Houston, CEO of Dropbox, on daily mental preparation: "I start my day with 20 minutes of meditation to clear my mind, followed by writing down my top three priorities. This practice sharpens my focus and sets the tone for productive work."
The amount of energy we have at any given time is determined by our physical energy reserves. But how we are motivated to spend that energy, and whether we spend it at all, is a spiritual question. Spiritual energy is the primary force that drives all aspects of our lives. It is the most important source of motivation, resilience, and choice of path. The word "spiritual" is not used here in a religious sense, but in a simpler sense - as a connection to deeper values and goals beyond the purely selfish. On a practical level, it is anything that inspires and energizes us, helps us to develop full capacity and maximize effectiveness in any mission.
  • Purpose Reflection: Spend time reflecting on your personal values and how your daily activities align with these values to enhance meaning in your work.
  • Volunteering: Engage in community service or volunteer work that resonates with your personal beliefs and contributes to a greater good.
  • Nature Walks: Spend time in nature to connect with the environment, which can reinforce feelings of connectedness and purpose.
  • Meditative Practices: Engage in yoga or tai chi, which combine physical movement with deep breathing and mental focus, supporting a sense of spiritual well-being.
Leila Janah, founder of Samasource, on integrating purpose into daily activities: "I keep a journal where I reflect on how the day's work aligns with my core mission. This helps me stay connected to the 'why' behind my efforts and recharges my commitment."
Adopting these energy renewal practices isn't just about ticking another box on the ever-growing list of 'things successful people do'. It's about embracing a lifestyle that ensures longevity in your career and richness in your personal life. It's like treating yourself to a regular tune-up to ensure you're always running at optimum efficiency.
Imagine trying to run a marathon with a flat tire. That's what plowing through your workload without pausing to recharge is akin to. So, whether it's taking a brisk walk to clear your head and get the blood pumping, or dedicating time to reflect on your deeper motivations, these aren't just nice-to-haves. They are essential practices that keep the engine of our mind and body in peak condition, enabling us to navigate the twists and turns of life and work with resilience and vigor. Think of them as your secret weapons in the arsenal against burnout and disengagement, helping you maintain your pace without losing your spark.