If you think of your body as an organization with the different parts holding various positions, your brain would be the Chief Financial Officer. Instead of money, the brain manages the energy required for us to live.
Your CFO manages the revenues and expenditures for your body, developing budgets for different “departments” such as glucose, salt, water, temperature, and hormone regulation. The CFO is constantly estimating the body’s energy requirements, keeping reserves for long term projects like stressful events or illness. Once the event is over, the reserves are released. This is simplifying a very technical process, but you get the gist. Technically, it is called “homeostasis”—the ability of an organism or environment to maintain stability in spite of changes.
A department consistently exceeding budget, or low revenues, create an out of balance body budget. The toll of being out of balance manifests in a myriad of ways to include; illness, depression, overly sensitive, inability to concentrate, impaired memory, reduced emotion regulation, and excessive tiredness.
In physics, energy is the capacity for doing work. While only 2% of our body weight, the brain consumes 20-30% of our energy requirements. So if we want our brains to work optimally, we need to make regular “deposits”.
Not a shocker, stress demands a lot of our body budget. Stressful moments are not the issue. A stressful event is like an unbudgeted emergency expenditure. You may have enough in the “account” to cover it or temporarily use another department’s budget.
Sustained stress tells the CFO that we need a permanent budget, just like the other departments, because of the constant withdrawal. Now your body is using precious energy and regularly releasing cortisol (the stress hormone), whether you need it or not, creating detrimental physical effects. This is why stressed people are typically extra tired and hungry.
The impact of stress isn’t limited to the body. According to stress.org, job stress is costly to organizations. Job stress carries a price tag for U.S. industry estimated at over $300 billion annually as a result of:
How can a company reduce the physical and financial price? Focus on how people manage their energy, not their time.
Dare we forget the war unions waged on business owners to reduce the workday to eight hours? After the companies succumbed to the unions, they found their businesses to be more productive and profitable. The article Bring back the 40-hour workweek says that 150 years of research proves that long hours at work kill profits, productivity, and employees.
What these studies showed, over and over, was that industrial workers have eight good, reliable hours a day in them. On average, you get no more widgets out of a 10-hour day than you do out of an eight-hour day. Likewise, the overall output for the work week will be exactly the same at the end of six days as it would be after five days. So paying hourly workers to stick around once they’ve put in their weekly 40 is basically nothing more than a stupid and abusive way to burn up profits. Let ‘em go home, rest up and come back on Monday. It’s better for everybody.
Is hour reduction enough? Is it reasonable given a company’s current landscape or development cycle? I don’t know if a start-up has that luxury. So how can we help ourselves and our employees? Energy Fairies.
When I teach my course, THE Resilience Recipe, people usually laugh when I get to the slide below. Fairies always bring you good things. I think of Tinkerbell and her pixie dust. The slide below contains things you can do to generate revenues or release energy reserves held for estimated expenditures (i.e. stressful events).
The Energy Vampires slide receives an equal giggle. I picked vampires as they are infamous for withdrawing. Much like the picture of the pretty vampire, things that aren’t good for us can be very attractive. This slide contains a few items that are culprits for putting us in a deficit.
Most of the items on these lists we probably already know, it is more a matter of what are we doing? What are you doing?
Sleep, diet, and exercise are three highly impactful areas in which we can make improvements. As individuals, we can incorporate a few small practices into our day to help manage our budget. As employers, you can share these tips with your employees or offer programs that support these practices.
If we become better at managing our energy, managing our time should come with more ease. Think about the balance of your Energy Fairies and Energy Vampires. Are you overdrawn?
If you have questions or are curious about THE Resilience Recipe course, contact [email protected].