Energy Management

Have you noticed that a lack of energy can bring out an entirely different personality?


High energy levels are a key sign of a fit mind, but it’s a limited resource that must be managed, much like time. I used to think only about being efficient with my time but later found that energy is in fact a much scarcer and more valuable resource for producing quality output. We all have a finite amount of energy each day, and the brain uses approximately 20% of that in order to function.


You may have heard the phrase: “Where attention goes, energy flows and life grows.” Wherever your attention is placed not only shapes your mind (neuroplasticity) but also determines where you expend attention. Sadly, we live in a world in which most peoples’ energy gets diverted into a wide variety of short-term gratifications, including targeted ads, video games, pornography, social media, and YouTube cat videos. That’s the information that’s populating their brains and shaping their desires; that’s where they’re spending their energy.


These surface-level inputs not only suck up energy, but they are also the result of low energy levels. When you feel sluggish, not only is cognition impaired, you are also more likely to give in to cravings. You might find yourself delving into a bag of Doritos, slipping down a clickbait Internet sinkhole, or snapping angrily at a close friend.

The  instant gratification – low energy levels  pernicious feedback loop.

The instant gratification – low energy levels pernicious feedback loop.

I came to think about eliminating or minimizing that which is draining energy, all of the metaphorical holes in my battery pack through which energy was seeping out.  

If sleep, nutrition and meditation involve recharging the battery, there are a variety of ways to minimize battery drain throughout the day. We typically expend a tremendous amount of mental energy on frivolous activities like stress in traffic, worrying about our looks in the mirror, and responding immediately to text messages. In fact worry and multitasking (which can lead to decision fatigue) likely create the greatest drain on mental energy. An overactive sympathetic nervous system is one of the greatest uses of energy in modern times.


Are you spending your energy on things that you really care about?

Learning to direct your energy where you want it to go, rather than just the path of least resistance, can make a huge difference. Energy is limited, like money. Just as the degenerate addict spends his whole paycheck on gambling and drugs, it’s easy to spend your energy in addictive, yet ultimately unfulfilling ways. You aren’t left with an empty bank account, but rather a general feeling of malaise with little energy for what really matters in your life: family, friends, mission, creative outlets, etc.


Some examples of wasted energy might include toxic relationships, drug addictions, unhealthy foods, overly-stressful work, negative thoughts, and parking tickets.

Negative thoughts and emotions can also weigh heavily on energy levels. One of the key signs of depression is a lack of energy. Positive emotions can have just the opposite effect – they can inspire you to act and engage. I’ve noticed that spending time around positive and upbeat individuals is contagious and invigorating. Some activities, like getting out in nature and hanging around funny people, can be net energy positive. Prioritizing those inherently energizing activities has become a major focus in my life. 


Rather than spending your vital life force on automated programs that are often unproductive, think about aligning energy output with your true objectives and interests. 

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Liam McClintockComment