In this episode:
- The signs of low/no energy days
- How to get past feeling like a failure on those days & letting go of the guilt of doing nothing
- Why doing nothing is really doing something
- 3 tips to help you accomplish your tasks – big and small – on those days
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You can also listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Soundcloud, and more. Find links to all the apps here. If you like listening to the audio on video, you can also watch via my YouTube channel, or just read the transcript for the episode, too (you'll find it at the bottom of the page). You can also support the podcast (and me!) on Patreon!
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[00:00:00] In this episode, I'll share how I manage on days with low or no energy. If you'd like to hear some tips that might help you too, please keep listening.
[00:00:08] You may write alone, but you are not alone. Inside the Writer's Soul focuses on how personal experiences can inform your writing and help you speak from the soul to really connect with readers and other authors as well. Your writer's soul doesn't need to take the writing and publishing journey alone. Join me, your host M. Khan, and let's move forward together.
[00:00:34] Hello and welcome! Today, I'm going to be talking about something that I was struggling with actually just the weekend before this podcast goes live. I had a different idea for this episode, but as I was trying to manage this weekend, I thought this might be a topic that could really help other people who are trying to manage days when they don't have any energy whatsoever or their energy is just really low.
[00:01:00] It is really tough to manage when you have low energy. It's something that is really hard to explain to other people when you are struggling just to sometimes even get up in the morning, to even take a shower, to do even small things or things that other people consider small, because it's something a lot of people don't get. When you have a lot of energy, you don't realize how much you have until it slowly is taken away from you, either through some kind of illness or through something else that you're trying to manage.
[00:01:32] Exhaustion is something different from low or no energy and I think a lot of people don't understand that distinction. I am exhausted. You know, I have a full time day job, I am writing and doing all the things on the side, it's basically two full-time jobs. And pretty much since I was 17, I've had at least one job and then later two or more at a time. And it can be really hard for people who have seen you work a lot and do a lot all at the same time, to then try to reconcile who you were with who you are now and the energy that you have.
[00:02:07] Now, it's not easy to make people understand why you're struggling. They think that you might be just playing hooky, they think all kinds of things about your diet and about how you look at it, and they judge you on it. That's what it really comes down to. People judge you when you don't have the energy to get up. Maybe you're emotionally drained and you just can't muster the physical energy to deal with the day. Maybe you have a health issue. I have chronic health issues that I've talked about on this podcast and it is really hard for me some days to get up and go to my computer or get up and go to work, and this past weekend was one of those for me.
[00:02:49] I've mentioned before that I tend to do a lot of my work on the weekends, I tend to write mostly on the weekends, all of my author business and everything else usually happens on the weekends, recording these podcasts usually happens on the weekends. So for me, having weekend days where I can't work, is something really tough that I deal with because those are my days where I get to do the things that I love to do. I get to write and create and be myself, but sometimes on those weekend days I get slapped with a no energy day out of the blue and it's really tough to deal with.
[00:03:29] Through my now few years of dealing with health issues and different kinds of energy draining me, I have a different perspective on it than I did back when this first started happening, and I wanted to share that perspective with you today.
[00:03:44] The first thing you'll want to think about if you are someone who struggles with this is try to see if there are any signs of your low or no energy days. One of the things I love is data, which sounds kind of weird, but I love data, data about my life specifically. I love knowing how long it takes me to do things because then I can manage everything I need to do. I love knowing how my energy is related to those tasks and how my energy is related to, you know, different parts of the month, say, when I'm, you know, on my period versus when I'm not on my period and how my energy changes. All of those things have helped me to kind of manage my energy a lot better now.
[00:04:25] Some days you just will not know that it's going to be a no energy day. It's just how it happens. For me, it happened just this past Saturday. I woke up, I felt okay, I had breakfast, I even did some writing in the morning. And then I took a shower and as soon as I got out of the shower, my body was like, nope, you are not doing anything else for the rest of the day. It really sucked because I had so many things that I wanted to get done, so many little things and big things that I'm working on. But in those moments, I've realized that I just need to go with the flow and I'll talk about that in a few minutes.
[00:05:07] But think about some of the other things that are going on around you that might be sapping your energy. I know even my schedule at my day job is something I have to think about because I work a traditional 9 to 5 sort of job with some weekends where I end up working. Something that I also need to consider when I'm trying to manage my energy for the day or even the week, I have to think about which days my day job will be the most draining and try to move forward from that, try to plan from that, and that can be a really tough thing to do. Sometimes we know that our day job or even, you know, your work life, your author life might be particularly stressful, say, around a deadline. Maybe you're a different type of creator, you're a filmmaker, you're a photographer, you'll have days and weeks where you might be extra busy just because it's a particular season for you or just because you have taken on extra client work, maybe because you're trying to meet a certain financial goal, whatever it is, you're going to be busy. And I think the thing is that we get so busy with being busy that we don't always think about how to allocate our energy for everything that we need to do.
[00:06:23] So while it can be difficult to figure out when you might have those low or no energy days, you do have some data that you can use in your life to figure it out. Think about your work schedule. Think about your kid's schedule or your partner's schedule. If your partner is stressed around you because their schedule is particularly hectic, then you are also going to feel that stress and you're going to feel that energy dip because of it.
[00:06:46] A little bit along those same lines, something else to consider is your environment. Think about the sounds and stress around you. Living in a stressful environment is not something you can change quickly, but you can address the symptoms. If someone is too loud, get cheap earplugs or maybe more expensive noise canceling headphones to drown it out.
[00:07:09] Stress saps your energy and it comes in many, many forms. Think about that stress around you and how to minimize it. Your environment also includes what you consume, what you eat and you drink. If all you're eating is takeout and your diet is awful, then your energy will naturally be lower to start with because you're not getting all of the nutrients you need. Find ways to keep your energy high on days when you have it to really maximize your time and effort to help you get things done and to help minimize the guilt you'll feel on those no energy days when you can't do much or anything at all.
[00:07:44] Now in regards to diet, mine is definitely not great for a variety of reasons. So my energy stays pretty low right now just generally and, because of that, I don't want to use it to cook a lot, so I tend to buy ready made meals or quick prep meals I don't have to think about which aren't always the healthiest. But as I've begun to incorporate a more rounded set of foods into my diet, things have definitely changed. My energy level might still be low overall compared to other people, but it is higher than it was before on my good days.
[00:08:18] Another consideration is to listen to yourself and your body and flow with your energy. This is something we don't do enough, and it's something I touched a little bit on in a previous podcast episode about spending your creative energy, but you need to flow with your physical energy too. Our body tells us what it needs and we often don't listen. We'll just push and push ourselves until we reach some kind of a breaking point. I could wake up and be fine and have breakfast, but then I'll take a shower and sit down to work, as what happened this past weekend, and my emotional and physical energy just isn't in it anymore. It's just gone. All I have the energy for is maybe bingeing TV shows or playing games on my phone, something mindless, something I can do to zone out.
[00:09:04] My brain won't let me think or focus, and I don't fight those days anymore. I used to, boy did I used to, but I don't anymore. It is harder when I need to go to my day job absolutely. On those days, I try to telework if I can to conserve the energy I waste while commuting. Or if I can't, I'll call in sick. But if not, I force myself to go in and that saps the rest of my energy really quickly. But it's also a reminder that self-care is more important than any fucking meeting. When I did shift work, I would live on the exhaustion hamster wheel spinning and spinning and spinning, and it eventually caught up with me. Though pushing myself to write every day had a big part in the physical issues I had, which I've spoken about on the podcast before in various episodes, I also know that doing shift work across multiple jobs at the same time also had a hand in it.
[00:09:58] Your body is telling you it needs rest. It's hard to reconcile that when you need to go to work to make rent, but you need to try. And resting can take many different forms. It's not just time off or actual sleep. Think about small things you can do that make you feel rested, that gives you more energy that you can incorporate into your life to help you on these days.
[00:10:21] Something else to keep in mind is that your version of "high" energy might be different to mine. Recognize that everyone's energy levels are different. Something a lot of people forget or maybe they haven't realized it, and it's really simple, is that everyone has a different version of an energy scale. Someone else's high energy might be your low energy. Everybody has this shifting scale that looks different to everyone. Recognize that everyone's energy levels are different and that your energy scale is different from other people's.
[00:10:54] You shouldn't feel guilty because your scale is different from others. It's just different. There's nothing wrong with different, but you might need to remind people of that. When you do have those low energy days, let them know that their sense of high energy is different from yours and that this what you're dealing with is a low energy day, but generally your energy is just different from theirs. It's a tough concept for other people to understand but, after a while, once they start thinking about it, they will start to understand it and understand you a little bit more.
[00:11:27] Something else you can do is revisit your definition of failure. Remember that doing nothing is doing something. It's doing something to help your body recover and replenish your energy. You are not failing because you can't get out of bed on some days. You are not failing because you took a shower and don't have energy for anything else. You are not failing if you can't cook or clean or need to take a sick day because of how you feel. Other people will have trouble getting this as I've mentioned. But you just need to remind yourself that you are doing something for you and for your health. Take a deep breath and let go of the guilt of doing nothing. Doing nothing is incredibly important, and making time for yourself is essential to getting and staying healthy.
[00:12:16] The last thing I'd like you to think about is how you prioritize when you have no energy. Everything you do needs to have a specific purpose and a prioritization. What absolutely 100% without a doubt needs to be done that day? It could be something small like taking a shower, which on really bad energy days can feel like a huge task, or it can be something even bigger that takes several hours. For me, this would be, say, recording, editing and doing all the things for this podcast.
[00:12:47] We often think that bigger tasks need to be done right away, but it's usually the smaller tasks that are often the most important and the most urgent. Eating something, singing your child's permission slip, dropping them off at school, picking them up from school, something small like mailing a letter or drinking water and staying hydrated.
[00:13:07] If you're under a creative deadline, don't think about the project as a whole because that can be overwhelming. For example, if you're an author, don't think about finishing the entire book. Think about one small thing you can do to get to that goal, like editing a single page or paragraph or sentence first. And remember, most people are pretty decent. If you have a deadline and you don't think you can make it, ask for help. Ask for an extension for a couple days because you're not feeling well. There is no shame in asking for help. Deadlines can often be changed or shifted or moved around.
[00:13:44] Remember, the most important thing on your to do list on bad days is YOU and taking care of yourself. Write down taking care of yourself as a task. This is something I do and it's really helped me to prioritize myself as well. I might have 10 tasks on my list, but I'll also write down specific self-care. Don't be vague when you add yourself to your to do list. Be specific. Something like 'watch an episode' or 'take a nap' or 'make lunch' or 'call so-and-so for help'. And don't just put your self-care as a priority on your list on bad days, but do it every day and you'll start to see a difference.
[00:14:23] So those were 6 considerations to help you manage yourself and your tasks big and small on days when you have low or no energy.
[00:14:33] Number one, try to determine if there are any signs for your low or no energy days. N
[00:14:39] Number two, think about your environment and how you can minimize the stress around you, and think about how you can improve your diet.
[00:14:48] Number three, listen to yourself and your body and flow with your energy.
[00:14:53] Number four, determine your energy scale and what your version of 'high' energy is, and recognize that everyone has a different scale and everyone's levels are different.
[00:15:05] Number five, revisit your definition of failure and remember that doing nothing is doing something.
[00:15:12] And number 6, learn how to prioritize on those low or no energy days and determine what needs to be done vs. what can wait, and don't forget to put your own self-care on your to-do list.
[00:15:26] Now I want to hear from you. What do you do on days when you don't have any energy? Leave some tips or comments on the blog or join our community on Facebook to let me know. The links are in the description. I'd also be very grateful if you could leave a review for this podcast wherever you like to listen. Thank you.
[00:15:45] Thank you for listening to this episode. Check out the show notes for links to my blog and our community where you can get involved in the discussion and support others. While you're there, don't forget to sign up for my newsletter to get to free and powerful tools to help you. One: access to my growing library of free resources for authors; and Two: you'll also get access to my exclusive writing challenge "How to Write Faster in 14 Days" where I share all my tips and techniques that helped me finish over 20 works in five years. Check out the show notes for all the links and thanks again for being part of this community.