How to Maintain Positive Energy with the Time Change
Unless you’re a resident of Arizona or Hawaii, your mind and body are adjusting to Daylight Saving Time this week.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, sleep deprivation from the time change impairs judgement and decision-making capacity, resulting in a 6% increase in fatal car accidents the first few days after DST begins. The one-hour shift of daylight from morning to evening disrupts circadian rhythms, triggers sleep disorders, and stresses the cardiovascular system. Hospitals report an uptick in admissions due to heart attack, stroke, and heart rhythm disorders during Daylight Saving Time.
Your difficulty with problem solving, concentrating, or making decisions this week are symptoms that your brain is trying to adjust to the visual cues you’re getting on this revised schedule for natural daylight.
Time Management is Energy Management
While time change is top-of-mind this week, you have many more opportunities to maintain positive energy than just the first few days of DST.
Work from home during the pandemic has condensed commuting from hours to seconds, and it’s a two-edged sword. Fighting traffic or negotiating public transportation for hours can be exhausting, but those hours provide a natural cooling off period after leaving the office. By the time you arrive home, your thoughts are no longer fixed on work.
Work life balance is totally dependent on establishing strong boundaries in a work from home environment. When your commute is the distance from the bedroom to the coffee maker, or from the dining room table to the recliner, the built-in buffer no longer exists to prevent work from spilling into home life. It’s up to you to “say when.”
Because the office is just a few paces down the hall, it’s tempting to stretch the workday a few hours into the evening. Oftentimes, fear of failure is the underlying motivator.
“I’m afraid I’ll become invisible when I work from home. So, I have to overdeliver to remind them that I’m still here, I’m relevant, and I have value.”
The problem with that internal monologue is: If fear is running the show, who knows when enough has been done and it’s time to stop working?
Scarcity adds value. As you increasingly limit your availability, others within the organization learn to value your time and to respect your boundaries.
Is the Juice Worth the Squeeze?
If you recognize you’re making yourself too available with Zoom-til-you-drop-across-multiple-time-zones, stop and take inventory. Is the life you lead worth the price you’re paying to live it?
You may find you run on no sleep, eat a poor diet, and have very little social interaction for days on end. You’re growing more distracted, impatient, and anxious; especially as you find yourself falling further behind in fulfilling your commitments. It’s getting harder to find reasons to celebrate or “count your blessings.”
Now is the time to reverse the trend by practicing energy management.
In their 2003 book, The Power of Full Engagement, authors Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz assert that every individual falls into one of four “energy quadrants” at any given time.
- Survival Zone – Characterized by anxiety, anger, and irritability. Also known as “fight or flight” state.
- Burnout Zone – The zone of forced recovery, where you land when you have completely run out of gas.
- Performance Zone – Characterized by high positive energy, often while working towards a clearly-defined goal.
- Renewal Zone – Where to refuel when your energy reservoir is depleted.
Optimally, you should visit this zone briefly for every 90 minutes spent working.
The key is to dip into the well of the Renewal Zone before the Burnout Zone’s warning light comes on…long before the Survival Zone leaves you broken down and stranded on the side of the road. Stretch. Take a brisk walk. Journal. Meditate. Listen to music. Grab a healthy snack. Hydrate. Switch tasks.
When you do it is of more importance than how you do it. Pause to recharge your batteries every 90 minutes throughout the workday. Frequent visits to the Renewal Zone in the days following “Spring Forward” quicken your adjustment to the new rhythms of daylight and dark.
You will feel the difference this week…and all year. Your colleagues and customers will see the difference in your performance and productivity, too.