Boost your productivity by planning your day around the ebb and flow of your energy.

Managing the Ebb and Flow of Energy

I’ve been thinking a lot about energy lately, with an exchange on Twitter piquing my curiosity the other week. 

Tim Stoddart – entrepreneur, community builder, fitness fanatic, and partner at Copyblogger – tweeted about wanting to be more engaged with his audience. He encouraged his followers to ask him anything.

So I did. 

Here’s the exchange

Tim: How can I help you? 

– business

– health

– fitness

– writing / marketing / sales

I want to get more involved with my followers. AMA.

Cory: How do you motivate yourself towards your fitness goals? More so on the days when you’re just not feeling it? 

Tim: I don’t believe in motivation. 

I workout every day the same way I brush my teeth every day.

Would you ever not brush your teeth because you don’t feel like it? 

With that said, @CTFletcherISYMF helps. 🙂 

I admire Tim and his story is truly inspiring.

Along with being a successful entrepreneur and writer, he’s an addiction recovery advocate and founder of Sober Nation, “a worldwide community and resource center for people struggling with addiction.” 

He’s faced fear, embraced change, and taken charge of his life in a way I hope to emulate. 

Which is why I’ve always found value in what Tim has to say, and in the case of motivation, it’s hard to argue with his logic. 

But brushing your teeth and working out are two different things – apples to oranges. Whether you believe in motivation or not, a two-minute mouth cleanse requires very little effort, while maintaining a recently adopted fitness routine is a monumental task in comparison.  

That’s what got me thinking about the ebb and flow of energy. 

On any given day, we’re allotted a finite amount of energy, which is consumed as the hours tick by with the odd burst of spirit here and there to help us along the way.

So, pay attention to the ups and downs throughout the day and identify the recurring patterns. The key is to harness the energy during the highs and pad the reserves during the lows. 

Photo by Jeremy Bishop

Catch the Flow and Ride the Wave

I recently wrote about how to form habits with better-than-nothing behaviours – setting ridiculously small goals that stimulate daily achievement. I’d like to add to that by sharing a recent revelation. 

After changing careers nearly seven months ago, and with on-and-off lockdowns in the past year limiting squash, my fitness level has dropped significantly.

I’ve also struggled with maintaining my morning yoga routine, which has shown negative impact both physically and mentally. 

Now, just because the gym is closed and I can’t play squash, it doesn’t mean I can’t exercise. And since yoga benefits me in so many ways, re-establishing a daily practice is super important. 

Hence, my question to Tim about motivation. 

After months trying (and failing) to wake up early enough to get a stretch in before starting work, I was at the brink of giving up altogether. I conceded to his argument: motivation didn’t exist. At least, not for me and my fitness goals. 

And without motivation, what else is there?


Remember those recurring patterns I mentioned earlier? Well, here are three things I’ve learned about myself (it’s relevant; stay with me) : 

  • I’m not a morning person—the trouble isn’t as much with waking up as it is with going to bed early enough to get a proper night’s sleep. I can’t get out of bed before 7AM consistently because I go to sleep too late at night.

  • I crash hard in the afternoon—between 2PM–4PM, my energy level takes a temporary nosedive. My productivity tapers off during that time as well, which becomes clearer and clearer the more I practice time management.

  • A second wind arrives before dinner—my workday typically ends at 5PM, and I love my job, but when I sign off for the evening, I get a boost of energy. Whether it’s the satisfaction of crushing my to-do list or just being happy a shitty day is over, I feel elated.

Finally, once I’ve eaten supper, I’m next to useless for the rest of the evening. Food comas are legit and my partner is a phenomenal cook – the odds are not in my favour, let’s put it that way. 

Armed with this knowledge, I decided to try an experiment.

Take a Breath –
Find What Feels Good

I’ve learned to schedule tasks that require less energy both mentally and physically during my afternoon crash. An example is doing research or sourcing images for a blog post from 2PM–4PM instead of trying to force 1000 words out of a sluggish brain. 

I’ve also come to terms with not being a morning person. Rather than beating myself up about failing to habitualize a morning yoga routine, I decided to take a different approach this time around. 

Eight days ago, I made the decision to practice yoga right after work and not beforehand – the plan was to take advantage of that vigorous rush I get between 5PM–6PM; and do you know what? 

It worked. 

I’ve hit the mat everyday since, and I’m almost a third of the way through a 30-day yoga challenge. I feel great, and I’m optimistic about maintaining the routine until it becomes a habit.

The message here is to bring your awareness to your energy and being conscious of how it ebbs and flows throughout the day.

I found time tracking helpful for identifying the highs and lows – if you want to learn more, check out productivity guru Matt Ragland on YouTube.  

Knowing the peaks and valleys of your daily energy allows you to plan accordingly and get the most out of each day. 

So step back, take a breath, and find what feels good for you. 🧘🏻‍♂️

The Diary of Davis Newsletter.
Photo by Aaron Burden

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