We seem to accept the fact that we have a limited amount of physical energy. But we also have a limited amount of mental energy, too. The best chess players in the world tend to be on the downhill slide around the age of 40. The general consensus among these great players is that they don’t have the mental energy to consistently play chess at the highest levels anymore.
Albert Einstein had multiple sets of the same clothes so he wouldn’t have to use any mental resources making a decision about what to wear. There are reports that he refused to memorize his phone number for the same reason. Perhaps he was on to something.
Simple suggestions for saving your mental energy:
- Get a full night of sleep. Nothing seems to recharge our brains, intellect, and emotions better than a good night’s sleep. A regular bedtime and wake-up time can help to ensure you’re getting enough sleep. Everyone has an optimum amount of sleep. Try to get yours each night.
- Build routines. Routines eliminate a lot of decision-making. Pay your bills every Saturday afternoon. Have a morning routine from the moment your feet hit the floor until you’re out the front door. The more decisions you can eliminate, the more mental energy you’ll have for the things that really matter.
- Mono-task: Study after study is showing that multitasking is inefficient. It takes time and energy to switch from one task to another.
- Give yourself regular breaks. Taking regular breaks results in getting more done. Even short breaks provide a mental and physical boost. A 15-minute break every 90 to 120 minutes seems to be best for most people. Experiment with different schedules.
- Get some exercise. Exercise clears the mind. The exertion coupled with an activity that doesn’t require a lot of thought seems to have a magical effect on our mental reserves.
Personal health and balance matters
- Eat wisely. Digesting food requires a lot of energy. Avoid hard-to-digest foods and heavily processed foods. Besides, foods that wreak havoc with your blood sugar should also be avoided. Food choices can significantly affect how you feel.
- Let go of the things that don’t matter. If you have a limited amount of mental energy, it only makes sense to save it for the things that matter. Most things in life aren’t worth a lot of fuss. Save your attention for the big stuff.
- Make a schedule before going to bed. When you start your day, it’s much easier and more productive if you already know what you should be doing. Before going to sleep, make a list of things to do the following day. When you wake up, you already know the plan for the day.
- Delegate. Save yourself for the critical issues. Assign tasks to others. Let your son take out the trash and give your employees additional responsibilities.
- Monitor your self-talk. It’s easy to wear ourselves out with negative thoughts. Keep your internal dialog positive and upbeat. This matters far more than most people realize.
Conserve and build your mental energy in every way possible. You’ll feel and perform better in all facets of your life. Pick a few ideas and incorporate them into your life. Albert Einstein took it seriously, and many thought he had a productive life.