A little while ago, I came across this beautiful post in my feed that said something along the lines of 'Remember, you only have enough energy to get you through one day at a time," and that one day is today.
I think that's a poignant reminder of our reality as well as a soft jolt to the high expectations we may have of ourselves. Much of the buzz in our head when we wake up or the pressure we feel throughout the day is because of all that we feel we have yet to do (not surprising, then, why we might wake up already feeling tired). On top of that, what we do accomplish never seems to be good enough and neither does the pace at which we do them seem fast enough.
It doesn't have to be that way, though. You don't have to be constantly judging yourself and expending large amounts of energy doing so - you don't always have to be 'on'.
That's where it's important to take account of the energy we have for the day, or energy management. The most important step in energy management is acknowledging the following:
1. We have a finite amount of energy that will ebb and flow throughout the day; and
2. Our energy levels will be different each day.
To me, knowing and accepting these two things already takes off some of the pressure I put on myself, and I hope it does for you, too. Simply reminding ourselves of these two statements - and believing in them - makes it much harder to over plan and overbook our days. In that way, we are much more honest and reasonable with ourselves since it allows us to create doable plans, preserve cognitive energy by reducing self-critical thoughts, and maintain a healthy balance between work and other activities that are important to us.
And if this sounds too 'cushy' or like it's taking the 'easy way out', think again. Over time, the positive effects compound to help us be more resilient, more efficient at work, and stay physically and mentally healthy - even researchers say so. On a personal level, I find that doing this makes me dread work less (because I won't be beating myself up or pushing myself past my limits) and just feel a whole lot better about myself. The accomplishment you feel at the end of the day for completing the tasks you chalked out also serves as positive reinforcement for the next day, and the next, so on and so forth.
As it would be, in the end, it all comes down to a matter of respect: respect yourself enough to prioritize and manage your energy in a way that will best serve you now and in the future because if anyone deserves your energy first and foremost, it's yourself.