Have you ever seen old footage of the Vaudeville acts where they would spin plates? It was masterful work that would amaze audiences. How did they keep the plates spinning? This is a modern problem in the work force. How do you stay busy, get busier, and do more than someone else so you’ll earn the raise, earn the bonus, or keep the job you’ve got? There are some rules to performance that until recently I had much less awareness of. I had always heard about work-life balance, and even things like avoid scheduling meetings. But what if those are wrong assertions?
In the book The Power of Full Engagement (Amazon Link | Audible Link) the authors argue for the cultivation of energy so that you can be present and engaged when you need to be somewhere doing something; when you need to spin plates. The idea is to be deliberate about your sleep, your food, your exercise, and your emotional well being so that the outcome of your life can be performance, not just barely getting by.
So should you keep the plates spinning? Maybe. But you need to pick the right plates that will return the most value. Take the other plates out of your life. They may be good, but they may not be the best use of your time. Criteria should be that things that drain energy have an opposing energy creation activity that you counter-balance with. If you have intense negotiations, for example, then you probably need to have some sort of exercise or positive activity to pair with it in the next 24 hours, preferably before you go to bed the same day. If I have presentations and planning all day I need to come home and do something that will restore my energy such as woodworking, playing the guitar, or cooking. I happen to brew beer, but alcohol cannot be my coping mechanism (or any other substance). Energy needs to be built up, not slowly depleted.
What do you do to manage your energy?
– the MGMT