Danielle Porter, one of our amazing team members here at LearnDoBecome, posted this photo of her “energy map” inside our membership’s Facebook Group, and we all LOVED it.
What would change in YOUR life if you could structure your routines to work with your energy?
Would it be easier to strengthen your family relationships? Get your best project work done? Move forward on your personal goals?
Listen to the podcast or skim the outline below for some simple ideas and takeaways, and then start your own energy map using the template at the bottom of this post.
0:00 – Introduction
1:30 – Why do we need an energy map?
4:20 – Energy map is a way use energy intentionally–not a confining box
6:10 – Creating your energy map
7:15 – Examples of time blocks
10:25 – Creating open windows and margin
11:45 – “Should” statements
14:00 – Making adjustments based on needs and energy
18:20 – Integrating energy map with STEP
19:40 – Using layers of routines to address pain points
24:25 – First step to using an energy map
Tips to Create Your Own Energy Map
Sometimes we get overwhelmed with all the things we need to DO. And other times we get overwhelmed by all the things we want to BE.
By utilizing an energy map for your routines, your overwhelm can be greatly reduced. We can’t do it all—ever!—but we can break down our day into manageable sections and give purpose to the time we spend each day.
1. Use your energy map to define your “why.”
Our list of routines cover the “To-Do” and the “what.” An energy map dives into the “why” and the “how” of the things we want to do. Routines help us get done what matters most, whereas energy maps give us a way to be intentional about the person we want to become.
By attaching a purpose to the routines we have in place we can better utilize our energy.
2. Break down your day into natural sections.
When we know we have all day…we take all day. When we know we have a limited time – it actually helps create more deliberate intention and more meaning. So consider your 24-hours and break it into sections that make sense to you. (Ex: Morning, Commute, Morning Work, Lunch, Afternoon Work, Commute, Dinner, Kids Bedtime, Evening, Sleep)
3. Write down what you actually do during those time blocks.
Print out a copy of your energy map.
Then pay attention for a week. Be observant and write down what you currently DO. Don’t write up an ideal week—just write down what actually happens. Do this for home life, time at work, all of it. We can always clean up and improve our routines, but to get started, just keep it really simple.
4. Add in words to describe the ideal energy you would like to give.
Consider major events in our lives. These are perfect examples of time blocks of energy. On Christmas morning, some ideal energy words might include “highly anticipated, family time, and magical,” instead of feeling worried about checking emails or feeling pressured about getting to a meeting.
During Sunday worship, we generally dress nicely and physically bring ourselves to a holier place, creating a time to focus our minds on our Higher Power instead of trying to multi-task laundry or feel guilty about our messy closet.
A sporting event is high energy, fun, with friends—not trying to have a stressful budget conversation.
Similarly, we can use phrases or words to describe the energy we want to give during certain times of our day. Once you’ve outlined your current routines, start to give mini designations of what would you like to happen within each time block. What kind of a person do you want to be while you are doing these tasks?
I like to use words or phrases that describe what I want to be. Things like “peaceful, generous, fun, patient, open minded, focused, driven….” Assign the energy you can expend during this block of time. This is your energy map.
If you are not sure what words to use, you can also make a list of things you value: “health, quality time, project work, reading, spirituality.” Then use these values to create energy/purpose words or phrases.
Here is a current version of an energy map. The words highlighted in yellow indicate the purpose behind the routines below. Note- these blocks of time do not mean ALL these things happen each day, only that this is the time designated for these things.
I use the words, “energy” “strong” and “jump start” because this is time I choose to exercise, pray, get ready etc. I also use these words as a reminder, because I could feel overwhelmed by the day ahead if I didn’t get a lot of sleep.
During this time, I choose the words: “generous” “playful” “positive.” This is time to get kids ready for the day, wake up the house, feed everyone, get everyone off to school. I use these words because I tend to want to hurry the kids, correct them, and keep everyone on task.
I obviously do NOT “relax ” or “focus ” here. It’s a time for “open heart” “eyes/ears,” though my instinct is be a “drill sergeant” and “on task.” The stuff still has to happen—and it does. But these energy words bring me back to what matters most.
5. Fill in weekly routines and corresponding energy words.
You can use this same method with much smaller blocks of time, that happen less frequently.
Friday nights are Date Night. By default Friday night I’m exhausted, but when I put purpose to this set aside time with my spouse (“happy energy” “good questions/conversation”) it becomes a highlight of the week, and really enjoyable.
6. Make edits and adjustments as you find things that work better for you!
You’ve written out your energy map. Now test it out!
For a week, focus just on mornings or nights. Refer to your energy map and take notes. What is working? What is causing stress?
Consider what you are expecting of yourself. Make changes. Renegotiate with yourself. Find your pain points, then tweak and adjust your energy map to fix these.
Initially, I wanted my Saturday mornings to be “effective,” “clean,” and “hard work.” (I love a clean house!) But I also wanted to be “patient” and “a good teacher” my children, so they could learn how to clean. NOT compatible. Now I break it up, doing what I need to be “effective and hard work” earlier (AM or Friday,) so that on Saturday morning I can go through task by task and be “patient and a good teacher” with my children.
Feel free to reevaluate your energy map during different seasons of life. I update this as often as I update my routines—about every quarter.
7. Use this energy map to build your routines based on your energy.
This is where it gets really fun. When you feel like you can rely on your current routines, you can actually start to build your routines based on your energy. This is where we start being even more kind to ourselves. No more living by “should.”
“Shoulds and procrastination” turn into “self care and moving forward.”
I should get up to exercise. Turns into I have super low energy and am going to go on a refreshing walk rather than hate the HIIT workout.
I should get this housework done but I am super grouchy and I am going to take care of a few next actions and 2 minute tasks, rather than dive into deep cleaning. I can see I have two windows of time tomorrow I can utilize.
I should get started on this writing project but I’m super in a bad mood. I’ll boost my creativity with reading a chapter in my book.
Just like an ‘event’ that we gear up for, or know how to save energy for, this starts to help us pace throughout the day. It gives us more grace for white space and margin, because we can see things are getting done.
Most Importantly: Do what works for you.
If mapping out your week feels overwhelming, just choose one thing! Pick one time of day, or one part of the week.
If all you do is decide to be more intentional with the time you spend with your spouse—maybe putting down your phone and having a good conversation after dinner—this is success.
If you decide to postpone thinking about your day while your kids are with you and give them your attention—this is success.
If you set aside time on Sunday or another day of the week to worship and feel peace—this is success.
All of these are utilizing an energy map. YOU can do this right now, and it doesn’t have to be perfect.
CHALLENGE: Find one thing you are already doing, and simply attach purpose to it.
Energy Map Templates
In the past I have used an energy map that had color coding by time block. Now I use writing to describe my purpose in each time block. We’ve included both versions, digitally and in a printable worksheet, so you can use what works best for you!
Here are two amazing Facebook videos by Dr. David Burns discussing how to combat “shoulds:”
Are you interested in getting really good at routines? Come learn more about our Steps to Everyday Productivity program in our free class, How to Stop Drowning in Piles! We’ll teach you four steps you can apply today to get out of overwhelm and eliminate piles. We’re excited to see you there!