Exercise – Energizers

(takes about 15 minutes)

This is an exercise of self-exploration through a simple brainstorming exercise. The idea is to gain a better understanding of where our strengths and passions lie – and where not.

Some things energize us. That is, once we start doing them we feel more awake, more energetic and happier. Other activities require an effort and over time drain us, and leave us tired after doing them for extended periods – sometimes happily drained, but drained nonetheless. Knowing which activities fall into which categories can help us know ourselves and our limitations better, and maybe occasionally indicate an unacknowledged passion.

I strongly recommend using a timer for this exercise. Forcing yourself to write continuously for longer than you normally would can help push you “dig deeper” for ideas.

  1. For 5 minutes: Create a list of things that leave you refreshed, awake and energized.
  2. For 5 minutes: Create a list of things that cost you energy or drain you, particularly if you do them for extended periods.
  3. Now, look at your “energizers” list, consider if there are any particular items that could be grouped together because they relate to a similar activity. Add these categories to the bottom your list and underline them.
  4. Now underline any other items in the “energizers” list that are particularly important to you.
  5. Do the same for the “drainers” list: look for categories, add these to the bottom (but don’t underline them.
  6. Now, looking at the drainers list, consider if there are things you want to do more of, even if they drain you, because they are important or enjoyable. Underline these.
  7. Finally, try to create an itinerary of a “perfect day”. What would a day that had a perfect balance of enjoyable, important and rewarding activities look like. Use the underlined items from the two lists to guide you. Also, try to alternate between “energizing” and “draining” activities in your itinerary.

Post-mortem

An obvious final step might be to actually do the itinerary you created for yourself. Another variant on this would be to do only energizing activities for one day. Depending on your personality, this can have remarkable effects on your productivity and happiness.

For the next week pay attention to what daily activities energize and drain you. You may even try to reorganize your day to take advantage of maximizing energizing activities, and alternative energizing and draining activities. If you’re particularly motivated, you might want to keep a diary and note which activities fall into which categories.

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