People have frequently asked me how I manage to have so much energy for so many things. Partly, it’s because I have a lot of energy. But a lot is also about using time efficiently.
If I’m awake, and not at work, I’m generally doing something related to one of my interests. I try to have a diversity of interests – some that recharge my batteries and/or relax me, some that require concentration. When I start getting tired of something that requires concentration, I go do something that requires less thought, something that recharges my batteries. It’s really that simple. The trick is having enough interests that you can always find something to do that fits your mental/physical energy level, and arranging them efficiently so you can use your entire day.
I tend to think of it as “filling the jar” (a metaphor I got from one of those self-help books, but can’t remember which). Each day is a big jar into which I put things. Some tasks are difficult, time-consuming, or draining. Those are big rocks. Some tasks are small, easy to slip in during “waiting” periods. Those are sand. Some tasks are in between.
I start by putting in the big rocks: today I want to read through xxx book on theory, get my dye samples done, mix up fourteen kinds of chocolate. I tackle those early in the day, arranging them around when I have the most mental energy. Then I slot the medium-size rocks. The sand I don’t bother scheduling, but put them in as I have time. If the jar (my energy level) turns out to be smaller than I thought, I remove rocks as needed until they all fit. The remaining rocks go into another day’s jar.
So in the morning (when I think best), I’ll go to the gym and read a book while on the exercise equipment or waiting between weightlifting sets. At that particular point I have enough mental/physical energy to do both. I’ll also read up on weave structure, answer my email, analyze software, etc. After that I need a break, so I go work on something that uses my hands, and requires less concentration – putting together chocolate samples, warping the loom, etc. Usually after that I’m pretty mentally tired, so I’ll go off on a bike ride. In between those activities, I’ll do the laundry or other small bits that don’t require concentration. When I come back from my bike ride, I’m mentally energized and ready to go with a second round of analytic/creative work. And so on.
The final key, for me, is never working to exhaustion. On the occasions when i work really hard (too hard) at intellectual things, it’s often difficult for me to find something to do afterward, because I’m so tired mentally that even simple things, like warping the loom, are beyond me. So I keep an eye on my “batteries” and switch gears when I start getting low, before the battery is dead. If I’m really dead, which doesn’t happen very often, I’ll go do things like the laundry, or cleaning house. (Which could explain why my house is a mess and there is dirty laundry all over the floor.)
That’s it! That’s how I keep my energy going.