How to Use Your Energy Wisely Running a Business
Spending time on social media is enjoyable until you realize time doesn't stand still, and you didn’t finish what you originally set out to do. What did you achieve?
What about all the times you avoided planning and organizing your business? Instead, there’s Netflix, reading, friends, the mall, online shopping, to name a few. You don't have to spend every waking hour operating your business. Rather, you want to spend the limited day-to-day energy you have, apart from art-making, on business priorities. What is the most pressing issue in your business? Selling art is not the answer by the way, because before that you need a marketing strategy, awareness and engagement. Here we tackle the question, how can you open up space so you don't spend your energy carelessly and indiscriminately. Where are your energy leaks?
Your energy is your currency - when time passes you don't get that back. If you overexert your energy and place it anywhere and everywhere this will impact your ability to tackle what really needs to get done this week. This can then affect your confidence, your decisions, and your future goals - these are all interrelated. Where do you even start, you might be wondering.
Your energy is your currency - when time passes
you don't get that back.
Do you want to make sure you understand exactly what needs to get done? Or, are you asking how to do something better? We all want to work smarter, and not harder, but in a hyper-capitalistic and productivity-driven world, this hamster race can be difficult to hop off of. Before diving into the deep end of the business, the biggest issue I see owners struggle with is time management, which is also another way of saying energy management, or self-steering. If you're the captain, first mate, gunner, sailing master, and all the other roles of a ship (aka your business), then you're responsible for self-steering your energy and talent towards reaching your destination.
Where is your Energy Going Exactly?
How does your energy flow with your day-to-day life? When is it low, or high? What are you doing? Which foods are you eating? Who are you hanging out with? This isn't a question of just productivity, but it's about your lifestyle, and living in a way that nourishes who you are, and the art you want to create. In other words, you want to invest your energy in ways that bring you joy and success, however, you define them.
Intentional Energy Use
- Reflect - Where are you spending your energy? What are you doing that is not fulfilling your goals or your purpose? Look at your life through what you do, how you think and how you behave. Is there self-sabotage or low confidence at play? Do you feel you don’t deserve success or that you might fail? How can you lean into these emotions and non-identify with them? Have energy check-ins frequently until you establish new habits.
- Plan - If you want to invest your money in profitable stocks, you have to plan and research carefully. Think about what matters to your business today. What do you need to know? This might include better time management, a business plan, a mentor or marketing help. Maybe you need a calendar, or an invoice app, or a better workspace. Research and eliminate things that are not working.
- What do you value? - Being able to make good decisions about where to spend your energy requires you to know what actually matters to you. What is your definition of happiness, of work, and success? It shouldn't be your parent’s or society's definition. Knowing how you want to use your energy towards what you want, depends on how that makes you feel. Focusing on other people's perceptions is misspent energy.
- Eliminate distractions - What are pointless ways you’re spending and draining your energy? Are you hanging out with unfulfilling friends every day? Do you rely on external validation? Are you expecting your parents to give you confidence and the go-head? Addicted to social media? Is your house a mess? Do you expend a lot of energy getting into arguments and judging people? Where are the energy drains? Write them all down, and start tackling them in the upcoming weeks realistically. Don't take part in what triggers you until you resolve the issue in a way that matters to you. The time you spend bouncing back from energy drains is also a leaky area, and we don't want this ship to sink.
- Good enough move forward - The perfectionist in any artist might have them convinced things to need to be 'just right' or even perfect. This can be counterproductive. You need to focus on progress over perfection and good enough, move forward. You can iterate and refine as you go, otherwise, you will stay stuck where you are, an anchor weighing you down.
If you're spending the time reflecting on a consistent basis (mark it in your calendar) and intentionally making a choice to do think, know, feel and act differently, you're holding yourself accountable to change and growth. Welcome that new energy.
Pivot and Adjust
As you pivot in each area you will get better at developing positive habits over time. Genetically you have some power to alter, i.e. turn genetic expressions off and on through concerted effort. Even though traits can be passed down from generation to generation such as stress, you can still adapt and resolve them over time - this requires focused energy and the right environment.
This does not happen in one day, nor is it the same for every person. You will still pick up that phone to play Wordscapes. Social media will distract you. You will still binge-watch entire seasons. You will have emotional peaks and valleys. But you need to be aware in order to change those behaviours over time. You must ask yourself, what will happen 5 years from now if you look back today and did nothing?
If you want to be an intelligent investor of your most valuable currency, you must understand who you are and where you're spending your energy. Don’t lose the opportunities in front of you when you’re creating your own life's purpose this doesn't always happen twice – keep your talent alive.
Community Economic Development, retired analogue photographer, and other fun social justice chit-chat. Toronto. MBA ’19. Twitter @SalomehA