For most of us, thinking about doing things without actually doing them uses up an enormous amount of our energy (often way more than it would take to just do the thing!). Life feels busier and more full (but not in the good way!) because we’re constantly thinking about all of the things we “need” to do rather than being fully present with whatever’s happening in the moment.
I once heard Nicole Harlow describe this as energy leaks and that’s such a great visual. Whenever we’re dwelling on or worrying about our to-do list, it’s like there’s little holes in our energy field, draining us and diminishing our enjoyment of our lives.
Just thinking about it this way has been hugely helpful for me because it helps me to be aware of where my energy is leaking and figure out what I can do to plug the leak.
After becoming a mama, I felt like my energy was constantly leaking in every direction. It can easily take weeks or months longer than I expect for me to get around to doing something.
I hate to admit that I actually took three months to respond to an email. An email that I thought about everyday. That I put off replying to because I wanted to sit down and give it the time and thought and attention it deserved. But in those early months of mamahood, such a thing just didn’t exist. And so when I finally did write a response, nothing was going to seem adequate for all those months of silence and I still had to fire it off during a fleeting free moment. But in all those months of not replying, I’d wasted so much energy thinking about it and feeling guilty about the fact that I hadn’t done so yet.
The thing is, life is so full these days that it’s usually difficult to find the time to fit in a small load of hand washing or reorganizing the kitchen cupboards on top of everything else – even if it would make life easier in the long run.
But our energy is precious. And especially so during these sleep deprived, pushed to capacity days of new mamahood. So I decided to do what I could to plug up my energy leaks. I won’t say I’ve cracked it completely but improvements have certainly been made. The strategies I’ve been using are simple, but I thought I’d share them with you in case they’ll be helpful.
Keep a master to-do list.
It can be in your phone or in a paper planner, as long as you’ll have it with you nearly all the time. As soon as you find yourself thinking about something that needs to be done, put it on the to-do list, unless you can…
Do it right away.
There are varying versions of the “if you can do it in 2-minutes”, “if you can do it in 10-minutes” rule always bouncing around. Essentially, if it’s possible to, just do the damn thing now. Otherwise you risk wasting all kinds of time thinking about doing it when it could just be done already.
Assign yourself energy leaks to plug on a regular basis.
I try to plug one small energy leak each day – and sometimes a few if it’s my inner spring and summer. On the weekends I’ll try to tackle bigger items from the list (and rope Matthew into helping if need be!) and during the week it’s often just the smallest of things but I add them to my to-do list for the day and get ‘em done.
Remind yourself that it’s taken care of.
When I find my energy leaking because I’m thinking about something I need to do, I remind myself that it’s on the list and that I’ll take care of it when the time is right and then I take my thoughts in another direction.
Delete the unnecessary.
If I find that an item has stayed on the list for weeks and weeks I decide whether it’s really something worth doing and if it is, I set myself a deadline to get it done.
These are really just some basic productivity tips that work for me but by thinking in terms of energy leaks it becomes easier for me to value my energy and prioritize protecting it in these ways.
Plus, as a new mama, our days can resemble a ball of string and getting even these small wins under our belts can go a long way for boosting confidence, self-esteem, and fulfillment.