How to Leverage Low Energy Into High Returns

Despite my best intentions or repeated urgings, sometimes I just don't have the energy to work on my most passionate projects. The things I do that add value to my life are not necessarily the easiest of activities. Writing blog posts, editing and analyzing game film, planning practices, and researching teaching/coaching strategies takes a lot of effort and I can generally only do them well when I have a lot of energy. It would be naive of me to expect my energy levels to always be high. However, it would be equally naive of me to forego doing anything productive just because I'm not at 100% energy level.

First of all, I would like to preface this entire article by reminding everyone (including myself) that sometimes low energy is a sign of needing a break. I'm talking about more than a get-up-and-walk-around-for-ten-minutes break. If you are experiencing recurring low energy levels that you can't seem to shake, consider spending a significant amount of time (at least an entire day) recharging your mental and physical batteries. It may not feel like it at the time, but allowing yourself time to regroup and refocus can be much more productive in the long run than slogging through fatigue.

Assuming your low energy isn't a sign of needing a more serious break, it is possible to utilize it and remain productive. Regardless of my passion, I will always have certain administrative tasks to take care of. Responding to certain email, tracking my finances, paying bills and cleaning my living space are all activities that need to be done. Luckily, they don't require much, if any, brainpower or energy to undertake. I like to save these tasks and batch them together for times of low energy. I'm not about to waste my valuables state of high-energy on doing dishes or inputting receipts.

The other type of low-energy task that I like to occasionally undertake when I'm feeling tired is brainstorming. Sometimes, the more tired I am the crazier ideas I have for future blog posts and new projects. It really just consists of kicking back in a comfy chair with a warm drink and a notebook and letting the ideas flow. It's a very high reward task that needs to be taken care of but doesn't necessarily demand that I use my most valuable time to accomplish it.

If you are having trouble coming up with ideas of tasks you can save for those periods of low-energy, here's a quick list that I like to refer to from time to time:

  1. Work on whatever book I'm currently reading: I always try to keep a book that I'm working on with me at all times. If it isn't something too intellectually challenging it can be the perfect filler for any time I'm not feeling very energized (as long as I don't fall asleep!).
  2. Clean something: This is assuming that you aren't procrastinating on doing something important and actually don't have the energy to tackle anything else. I usually do my best work early in the morning or late at night, so I'll save any cleaning I need to do for the middle of the day.
  3. Watch some educational videos: There are so many great resources out there for watching educational video. It doesn't take a whole lot of energy to kick back and watch something and who knows, you might even get something out of it.
  4. Listen to some podcasts: I tend to let new episodes of my favorite podcasts build up without listening to them. If I'm feeling particularly listless one afternoon I like to block out a couple hours to catch up.
  5. Start proofreading: If I'm proofing something for the last time in preparation for publication, then this is definitely not a low-energy activity. However, the first couple times I read over something I've written I'm just trying to find glaring mistakes. It doesn't require me to be completely on top of my game and it is definitely something productive.

Make your own list of activities or tasks you can do when you are feeling low-energy and you will never have to feel guilty about not being productive again. Or, get this, take a nap and get back to what really matters!