Maintaining your energy

Written by
Emily Sexton-Brown

03 Apr 2017

03 Apr 2017 • by Emily Sexton-Brown

Dana Kilian

VP people, Eventbrite 

To energise your team, you need to lead by example and start with yourself. As a working mother of two, this requires a lot of focus and discipline. For me, a good start to the day is absolutely critical. This means getting up early, around 5.30am, for some exercise before breakfast. A workout, yoga or weights/Pilates session gives me the physical energy for the rest of the day, followed by five minutes’ meditation to relax my mind. Family time is another great energiser; my husband and I share household duties to make sure we get to spend quality time around each other and the kids. 

During the working day, I try to remove non-urgent distractions to help me concentrate on the things I love doing and that keep me focused and in a good spot. I turn off most notifications on my phone, and only check and reply to emails at set times. At the same time, I make time to switch off. It’s amazing how 15 minutes out of the office can change my perspective.

Andrew Lawson

Head of human resources, Shakespeare’s Globe, London

A good book filled with stories and real-life examples of how fantastic places to work have been created, maintained and transformed, keeps me on track and is a reminder of how impactful HR leaders can be. 

A solid eight hours’ sleep, plus de-stressing before the light goes out, have been transformational for me; I couldn’t do the job I do without it. I use meditation to help me unwind and clear the brain. Alcohol is tempting but contributes to dehydration and those irritating middle-of-the-night awakenings – I cut it out completely during the week for this reason. 

Reducing carbohydrates, cutting out caffeine and drinking at least a litre of water a day has meant my body is not using energy needlessly, particularly at night. Incorporating at least 30 minutes’ exercise into my daily routine is hugely important for pumping oxygen; it’s amazing how good you’ll feel once this routine is established. So looking after the whole body, mind and spirit – and a gentle self-nudge to remind me why I do what I do – seems to work for me. Of course, loving what you do helps keep spirits high and motivation strong.

Nicola Gillen

Global practice lead, strategy+, Aecom

I find that green tea and an occasional Pilates class set me up for the working day. I avoid caffeine and ‘beige foods’ (from Monday to Thursday), choosing colourful foods, especially green vegetables, giving me plenty of energy. Work is a thing I do, not a place I go. I don’t work in a ‘punch in, punch out’ environment. This allows me to work flexibly around commitments including clients, projects, travelling and my children. I encourage my team to take a similar attitude to work by supporting flexibility. Work should be valued through outputs, not presenteeism.
This emphasis on flexibility is something we strive for in our office design. We encourage organisations to establish team neighbourhoods within offices to facilitate different working styles so employees can work alone and collaborate, according to their changing needs and personal preferences. Reimagining the workplace to support different approaches to work not only enhances employee wellbeing, but can also improve performance.

"Energy management is one of the building blocks of resilience"

Alex Clayton

HRD, Legal & General Insurance 

I live in Cardiff but support more than 2,000 colleagues, based at several locations across the UK, so my role involves a great deal of travelling. It’s essential I look after myself and have the energy for such a busy schedule. I perform and feel at my best when I’m fit, feel challenged, but can balance my work and home life. I have two daughters, aged 16 and 12, so being organised is key. I am open about the challenges of balancing my life, in a positive way, as it’s something colleagues can connect with. 

Typically, my day starts very early if I am travelling to our offices in Kingswood or Hove, and when I arrive, I have a full day of meetings. Among all the travelling and meetings it is important to find time for yourself. The main thing is to understand how and what you feel and to recognise your potential limitations. This way you can choose to do something about it. 

For example, colour makes me feel positive and energised so I wear strong colours, which helps convey confidence and positivity. Wellbeing is a personal thing. It’s down to what makes you feel good.

James Martin

Global HR practice leader, Egon Zehnder 

Being at my best means maintaining my own mental and physical energy. I’ve found that a combination of exercise, fresh air, sleep and trying to match my diary to my biorhythms, is the best recipe. I have stopped running but try to walk as much as I can during the day. Luckily, working mainly in London means I can walk to most meetings; I rarely take the tube or a taxi. I’m not sure London air counts as fresh, but time in the parks helps lift the spirits.
I’ve learned I need at least seven hours’ sleep a night and try to be protective of achieving that, cutting out caffeine after late morning. My recipe for supporting and energising colleagues is to listen, offer praise and reassurance when required, and always to try to see the best in them.

Dr Mark Winwood

Director of psychological services, AXA PPP Healthcare 

As a manager, keeping energised and modelling this energy to your team is a great way of helping boost their motivation and engagement and creating a positive, collaborative team environment – all factors that can help businesses to thrive. Energy management is one of the building blocks of resilience – being able to bend rather than break in times of change or adversity. 

Small changes can make a big difference to our energy levels; at work we may reach for coffee to kick-start our day or for a ‘pick-me-up’ later on. But this can disrupt our quality of sleep, which has a massive impact on how alert we feel. I have a ‘caffeine curfew’, cutting out coffee, green tea and even chocolate after midday to prevent sleep disturbance. 

A brisk walk outside in the fresh air during daylight hours can help us refocus our minds and support our circadian cycle. I often go for a jog to give me energy, gain clarity of thought and solve problems. And don’t forget to take some ‘me time’ as mindful moments can also help support our energy levels.