You can’t increase the amount of time available to you. But you can increase the energy you have to do the things you need and want to do! In a previous post, I discussed the Harvard business school study that demonstrated employees increase productivity when they take care of themselves versus overworking. Schwartz and McCarthy describe several practices relevant for every nonprofit leader – executive directors and board members alike.

There are four sources of energy to be aware of: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Here are some tips that can help you increase your energy from these sources.

Physical.  First, practice noticing signs of your energy waning (yawning, restlessness, trouble concentrating). Then when you do,  take a break away from your desk and do it every 90 minutes.

Emotional. Deep abdominal breathing can help defuse the negative emotions (e.g., anxiety, overwhelm) that sap your energy.  Another tip is to ask yourself when you face a stressful situation:  “How will I view this six months from now?” Practicing gratitude daily is another great practice.

Mental.  At the end of each day, identify the most important challenge/task for you to handle the next day and deal with it first!  Hold off looking at email or voicemail until you have done something about your priority item.

Spiritual.  Identify your “sweet spot” activities—the things you can easily get absorbed in and love to do. Find ways to do more of them and schedule it.

What ideas do you have? What do you practice to keep your energy up? Share what works for you here so others can benefit!