This week, one of my lead articles got pushed back a week and was replaced by this piece. A gentle but important reminder that you should take a moment to take the foot off the pedal when your energy is low.
For the last week or so, I’ve been undertaking a seemingly trivial activity, using Lego blocks in green, yellow and red to mark my productivity and energy levels throughout the day. In moments of flow when my energy and output is high, down goes a green block. Yellow marks slower, lower-level activity and red a perceived dip in productivity or ‘uninspired’ parts of my day.
I’ll share my weekly block towers soon, but for now I thought it was worth considering the red and yellow blocks.
Last week, I woke up and felt like putting my head back under the pillow. A red brick indeed. No particular reason, no huge drama, just couldn’t quite get going. As a person who would quite happily rate their energy levels as a steady 8 out of ten – with few dips – this lack of get go was perturbing. As a coach, there was a feeling I ‘shouldn’t feel like this’, or that I should ‘muscle my way out of it’.
Interestingly, I mentioned my dip to my editor, Amy, and her response made me think. It wasn’t anything ground-breaking, but it was human. Unknowingly, it was what I needed to hear.
‘Think of it as nothing more than a low energy day. Which we all have. Best just to take a cue that your body and brain want a bit of down time. Try to get out in the miserable weather and go for a walk. I find there’s no point in attempting to force yourself to do challenging tasks when your brain isn’t in the mood. Decent walk, cup of tea… full packet of biscuits. Cuddle with the cat. By evening you’ll have regained the balance and be ready to do something productive.’
So as I moved from a red Lego brick, to a few hours of yellow – during which I actually achieved some low level work that would have required my attention at some point anyway – I realised that this dip really wasn’t such a catastrophe. And yes, I managed a walk and a biscuit to in case you wondered.
This is just a gentle reminder to you that we all have high energy periods and low-level periods. Don’t beat yourself up when you’re not feeling it. Focus on what your body and mind is telling you. Take a break, do some work that requires less flow or intense thinking. This is not an excuse for procrastination – although procrastination can sometimes simply be low energy at work – rather a reminder that we’re human. You too are allowed the red and yellow bricks.
Every Wednesday I book out an hour to hold a FREE agency leaders surgery. If you have something on your mind, a challenge you’re wrestling with or just want an alternative point of view, I’d be very happy to lend an ear and maybe help you start to unpick the issues. You can help yourself to my calendar, here. Speaking to a diverse group of agency leaders helps me stay current and contextualise the issues I’m seeing with my clients. So please see this conversation as a genuine collaboration where we both hope to learn something new.