Feeling burnt out is one of the issues that a HSP/HSS often encounters. Unfinished tasks and over/understimulation is a constant physiological response to manage – it can be frustrating to try to stay on top of everything and not be exhausted at the end of it all!
Here are some tips I’ve been using to manage my time and energy, based on trial-and-error. I see these energy management techniques as basic self-care, because for us, it’s not about WHAT we do, but HOW… that determines our experience in the end. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. If you’re too frazzled to enjoy the journey and the fruits of your labor, then we’re really missing out on the juicy bits of life! Maybe you might find some of these useful:
- As long as you get it done, it does not matter the order you do them in. When I let go of a linear way of working and focused on simply completing tasks, I got things done much more effectively. For example, I may start writing one thing and move on to the other without completing the first thing. It’s probably a no-no for some people, but because I usually get inspired or get another thought when I’m working on one thing, I then jump back and forth because my mind enjoys that stimulation. My rule for myself is that I must complete what I begin within a set time frame. HOWEVER, there are times when focusing on one thing at a time feels a lot more pleasurable, so I just go with that. The point is being okay with the fact that every work session may not be the same each time and slowly developing flexibility to work with whatever presents itself to you each day. But you must first show up.
- Schedule or work according to your natural energy cycles. This tip is for those who feel that the usual 9-5 routine doesn’t work for them. The challenge is to neither over schedule or under schedule. For example, if you know you need to be somewhere from 9am to 12pm, stick to that, and then allow the rest of the day to flow and to go where your intuition leads you. This satisfies both the routine loving side of me and the creative side of me that likes being in the moment. (Of course, I decided to quit the 9-5 years ago, so this became possible…I know this can be hard for those people who want or need regularly scheduled jobs.) Again, creating room to have some flexibility for yourself is key. Secondly, work when inspired – don’t hesitate or even start thinking about it. I feel most productive in the morning, so I tend to open my laptop and dash things out and clear my tasks first thing after my usual morning meditation / prayer. (Because deadlines are real and money needs to be made.)
- Listen to your body. If you’re spent, you’re spent. Rest. Rest. You will be a lot more effective after a good rest rather than sputtering along trying to force yourself to complete a task.
- Try going deep instead of going wide. When you start getting bored and the familiar itch to start something new floods in… Resist! Redirect the energy. I’ve learnt over time that not every idea is worth chasing. I may simply decide to approach an existing task in a new way instead. How do you make it more fun/exciting/enjoyable? How can you go deeper into it? Where can you challenge yourself further? Maybe it’s simply the challenge of Staying Put. It’s about building up a kind of resilience – when sitting with the urge for more stimulation, observe where your mind goes, and try to discern the real emotion driving it. Often it’s simply boredom or a need to take a break for a minute.
- Grounding. An easy way is simply to touch the trunk of a tree. The tree’s deep roots grounds your energy down into the earth. This is my favorite way of grounding because trees are so calming to me. Or, take a minute to stand and consciously shift your awareness to the soles of your feet and how they feel pressing against the floor. Exercise is also key to dispel some of the excess energy that often leads to restlessness.
It’s still an ongoing, daily process to work with my energy flows. But self-understanding is key to all of it – remember that who you are isn’t something to fight against, but to encourage and work with. You are who you are for a reason.
What are some of the ways you use to manage your time and energy? I’d love to hear!
Art by Tiffany Chantel.