“I just need a 28 hour day, then I’ll be able to get all my work done.”

We’ve all uttered those words during our careers, especially during times when there’s more work to do then there’s time to do it.  That’s probably just about everyday for us busy pet industry entrepreneurs.  While we all agree that practicing smart time management results in increased efficiency, there’s only so much you can do because time is a limited resource.  But what if you worked with more vitality, energy, and enthusiasm?  How much more would you get done?

This is the subject of an article written by two personal energy management experts, Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy.  This subject is near and dear to my heart as I have been a lifelong student of finding ways to work smarter, not harder.

Schwartz and McCarthy claim that by fostering deceptively simple rituals that help employees regularly replenish their energy; companies build their worker’s physical, emotional, and mental resilience.

The authors broke personal energy into four segments and recommended a series of practices for renewal in each of these segments:

PHYSICAL ENERGY:

  •  Enhance your sleep by setting an earlier bedtime and reducing alcohol use.
  •  Reduce stress by engaging in cardiovascular activity at least three times a week and strength training at least once.
  •  Eat small meals and light snacks every three hours.
  •  Learn to notice signs of imminent energy flagging, including restlessness, yawning, hunger, and difficulty concentrating. When starts to occur, take a brief break away from your desk.

EMOTIONAL ENERGY

  • Defuse negative emotions—irritability, impatience, anxiety, insecurity—through deep abdominal breathing.
  • Fuel positive emotions in yourself and others by regularly expressing appreciation to others in detailed, specific terms through notes, e-mails, calls, or conversations.
  • Look at upsetting situations through new lenses. Adopt a “reverse lens” to ask, “What would the other person in this conflict say, and how might he be right?” Use a “long lens” to ask, “How will I likely view this situation in six months?” Employ a “wide lens” to ask, “How can I grow and learn from this situation?”

MENTAL ENERGY

  •  Start your day with a plan of how you will utilize your time.  Schedule time to respond to e-mails and voice mails at designated times.
  •  Reduce interruptions by performing high-concentration tasks away from phones and e-mail.
  •  Every night, identify the most important challenge for the next day. Then make it your first priority when you arrive at work in the morning.

SPIRITUAL ENERGY

  • Identify your “sweet spot” activities—those that give you feelings of effectiveness, effortless absorption, and fulfillment.  This is also known as your “unique ability” – a subject I will be writing about in a future e-update. Find ways to do more of these. One executive who hated doing sales reports delegated them to someone who loved that activity.
  • Allocate time and energy to what you consider most important. For example, spend the last 20 minutes of your evening commute relaxing, so you can connect with your family once you’re home.
  • Live your core values. For instance, if consideration is important to you but you’re perpetually late for meetings, practice intentionally showing up five minutes early for meetings.

HOW COMPANIES CAN HELP

  • To support these renewal rituals within your firm:
  • Have a quiet spot in your office where people can go to relax and refuel.
  • Subsidize gym memberships and encourage group participation in events like running and cycling races.
  • Request that people stop checking e-mails during meetings.Encourage your employees to take time off where they are not doing any work.  I found that even a 24 hour period where I am not doing any work-related activity will help me look at a project or challenge with fresh ideas.  Everyone needs time away from the daily grind to rejuvenate and refresh.

This list is by no means complete and I recommend you tailor them to fit into your company’s culture.  By helping your employees rejuvenate their personal energy, the benefits go straight to the bottom line.  When Wachovia bank instituted a personal energy renewal program, they revenues increased up to 20% year-over-year. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Carol Frank of Boulder, CO, is the founder of four companies in the pet industry. As a Managing Director at SDR Ventures Investment Bank, she is a registered Investment Banker and leads the team in executing pet industry transactions including M&A, capital formation and strategic advisory services.  She is also the owner of BirdsEye Consulting, the consummate source for pet sector consulting expertise in licensing, executive recruiting, market research,  and sales channel strategy. She can be reached atbirdseye@carolfrank.com.