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The 7 Energy Sinkholes (and How to Avoid Them)

The 7 Energy Sinkholes (and How to Avoid Them)
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    Energy sinkholes are situations that repeatedly drain your energy and stress you out. There are plenty of good reasons to invest your energy, so don’t waste your attention on a sinkhole. Unfortunately, it is often hard to see sinkholes since they rarely cause a drain all at once. Instead they slowly leech away at your lifeforce until your stressed, depressed and apathetic.

    The best way to get out of these sinkholes is to get a routine. Having a preplanned method to handle these problems can keep your mind focused on more important things. Here are the big seven that may be stealing from you right now:

    1 – Disorganization

    Having to constantly find documents, forgetting commitments and appointments puts is a huge sinkhole. The solution out of this is simply to create a system for organizing and routinely tidy it up. You may have implemented a few systems, but here are some areas you might consider giving a clean-up:

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    • Computer hard-drive
    • Calendar
    • To-Do Lists
    • Project Task Lists
    • Office/Desk/Home
    • Filing System
    • Closets

    2 – Poor Diet and Lack of Exercise

    Exercising isn’t just to look good on the beach. Staying fit keeps your energy levels high. You can be slim and still be drained because you aren’t fit, so don’t use the scale as the measurement. Here are some things you might want to consider to get out of this energy trap:

    1. Make a Routine – Find a gym partner, class or workout time that you can exercise at least 3-4 times per week. I’ve experimented with different amounts and found six days a week works best for me. If you are unsure how to start, just try it for thirty days to see how it goes.
    2. Replace Foods One at a Time – Don’t try to overhaul your eating habits overnight. They’ve been established over years, so they can’t change in a snap. I recommend switching out one unhealthy food type for a month before making more changes. When you take it gradually it is far easier to stick with long-term.
    3. Time Your Meals – The best way to eat would probably be 5-6 smaller meals spread throughout the day. Since this isn’t a reality for most people, a decent alternative is simply to time your meals so your blood sugar levels remain steady throughout the day. This will ensure you aren’t starving for some parts and fatigued from a big meal in others.

    3 – Problem Contacts

    We all have those few customers, clients and friends that cause a disproportionate amount of our stress. I say the best solution is simply to fire them. Cutting down on people who drain your energy can help you focus more productively on the rest. If a transaction is fair, then both parties should have the ability to opt out if it becomes too much of a hassle.

    4 – Focusing on Your Weaknesses

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    My definition of a weakness is anything you aren’t interested in becoming skilled at. If you aren’t keen on improving, you can’t build strengths and any talent you do have will degrade. Don’t try to do everything and outsource the tasks that don’t fit within your strengths. Virtual Assistants and freelancers can deliver a much higher quality than you could on your own, and often their fees are less than the cost of your time.

    5 – Squeaky Hinges

    A squeaky hinge is any piece of technology that works, but has irritating side-effects. This could mean a computer that is too slow to run the programs you need. A dishwasher that doesn’t get all the food off. Or an alarm clock that isn’t loud enough.

    If the solution to a squeaky hinge is cheap, fix it immediately. The costs will soon outweigh any replacement expenses. If the solution is expensive, write down the total cost and keep track of any wasted time/money due to the problem. Keep track of squeaks will make you aware of what the total cost is, and whether a replacement is warranted.

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    6 – Blog/E-Mail/Facebook Addiction

    Information addiction can be a huge drain to your energy. I love using blogs, e-mail and social networking sites to get the latest news and keep in touch. But that love can quickly turn into an obsession if you aren’t careful. Soon you’re like the rat frantically pushing the lever for more cocaine doses as you hit Stumble one… more… time…

    My solution was to designate a time for information inflow and keep it restricted to that time. Once per day is all I allow myself to read new RSS feeds, incoming e-mail and Facebook. For other stats and random surfing I limit myself to once per week. The result is more energy and almost no impact on communication.

    7 – Pleasing People

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    Don’t waste your time trying to please the people around you. This isn’t an excuse to be an inconsiderate jerk, but put a high value on your time. Learn to say no to people who don’t show respect for your time. Helping other people is great, but it’s better to focus on serving the greatest good than simply appealing to the whims of your friends and family.

    Don’t waste your energies trying to fit others expectations. Set your own dreams, standards and ambitions and make them your highest priority. When you’re nearing your end you’ll likely regret more the sacrifices you made to your individuality than how pleased your parents were of you.

    More by this author

    Scott H Young

    Scott is obsessed with personal development. For the last ten years, he's been experimenting to find out how to learn and think better.

    The Art of Humble Confidence 7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness Top 4 Misapplications of the 80/20 Rule How to Motivate Yourself: 13 Simple Ways to Try Now

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    Last Updated on November 12, 2020

    5 Reasons Why Being a Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect

    5 Reasons Why Being a Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect

    As a perfectionist, do you spend a lot of time “perfecting” your work so that everything comes out the way you want it to?

    I believe many of us are perfectionists in our own right. We set high bars for ourselves and put our best foot forward to achieve them. We dedicate copious amounts of attention and time to our work to maintain our high personal standards. Our passion for excellence drives us to run the extra mile, never stopping, never relenting.

    Dedication towards perfection undoubtedly helps us to achieve great results. Yet, there is a hidden flip side to being perfectionists that we may not be aware of. Sure, being a perfectionist and having a keen eye for details help us improve and reach our goals. 

    However, as ironic as it might sound, a high level of perfectionism prevents us from being our best as we begin to set unrealistic standards and let the fear of failure hold us back.

    Below, we’ll go over some of the reasons why being a perfectionist may not be so perfect and how it can inhibit you from being the best version of yourself.

    Why Perfectionism Isn’t So Perfect?

    1. Less Efficiency

    As a perfectionist, even when you are done with a task, you linger to find new things to improve on. This lingering process starts off as 10 minutes, then extends to 30 minutes, then to an hour, and more. We spend way more time on a task than is actually required.

    In order to be truly efficient, we need to strike a balance between the best we could possibly do and the level of “good” a specific project requires. No one will expect perfection from you because it will ultimately be impossible to attain. Do the best you can in a reasonable time frame, and allow yourself to put it into the world.

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    2. Less Effectiveness

    We do little things because they seem like a “good addition” without consciously thinking about whether they’re really necessary. Sometimes, not only do the additions add no value, but they might even ruin things.

    For example, over-cluttering a presentation with unneeded details can make it confusing for listeners. Jam-packing a blog layout with too many add-ons can make it less user friendly. Sometimes, consistency is key, and if you continuously change things, this will become much more difficult.

    3. More Procrastination

    Our desire to “perfect” everything makes us overcomplicate a project. What’s actually a simple task may get blown out of proportion to the extent that it becomes subconsciously intimidating. This makes us procrastinate on it, waiting for the ever “perfect” moment before we get to it. This “perfect” moment never strikes until it is too late.

    Instead of overthinking it, set small objectives if you have a big project ahead of you. This will help you tackle it step-by-step and complete it before the deadline.

    If you need help tackling procrastination, check out this article.

    4. Missing the Bigger Picture

    As a perfectionist, you get so hung up on details that you forget about the bigger picture and the end vision. It’s not uncommon to see better jobs done in pruning the trees than growing the forest.

    Take a step back and remind yourself of your end goal. Try setting a timeline to help yourself stick to the work that needs to be done without ruminating on things that could be improved.

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    5. Stressing Over Unfounded Problems

    We anticipate problems before they crop up, and come up with solutions to address these problems. It becomes an obsession to pre-empt problems. As it turns out, most of these problems either never surface or don’t matter that much.

    When Perfectionism Becomes a Problem

    The problem isn’t perfectionism specifically. Perfectionism helps us to continuously strive for excellence and become better, so it can really be a good thing.The problem is when setting high standards turns into an obsession, so much so that the perfectionist becomes neurotic over gaining “perfection” and refuses to accept anything less than perfect. In the process, s/he misses the whole point altogether and does damage to their mental health. Such perfectionists can be known as “maladaptive perfectionists.”[1] Maladaptive perfectionists spend so much time setting high expectations and striving for perfection that they increase levels of depression and anxiety. 

    Diagram showing how a healthy perfectionist and a maladaptive perfectionist respond to failure.

      The answer isn’t to stop being a perfectionist or high achiever. It’s to be conscious of our perfectionist tendencies and manage them accordingly. We want to be healthy perfectionists who are truly achieving personal excellence, not maladaptive perfectionists who are sabotaging our own personal growth efforts[2].

      How to Be a Healthy Perfectionist

      1. Draw a Line

      We have the 80/20 rule, where 80% of output can be achieved in 20% of time spent. We can spend all our time getting the 100% in, or we can draw the line where we get majority of the output, and start on a new project.

      Obsessing over details is draining and tedious, and it doesn’t help us accomplish much. I used to review a blog post 3-4 times before I published. All the reviewing only amounted to subtle changes in phrasing and the occasional typos. It was extremely ineffective, so now I scan it once or twice and publish it.

      2. Be Conscious of Trade-offs

      When we spend time and energy on something, we deny ourselves the opportunity to spend the same time and energy on something else. There are tons of things we can do, and we need to be aware of the trade-offs involved, so we can better draw a line.

      For example, if some unimportant blog admin work takes an hour, that’s an hour I could spend on content creation or blog promotion. Being conscious of this helps me make a better choice on how to spend my time.

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      3. Get a View of the Big Picture

      What is the end objective? What is the desired output? Is what you are doing leading you to the overall vision?

      As a perfectionist, to make sure my attention is set on the end point, I have a monthly and weekly goal sheet my blog that keeps me on track. Every day, I refer to it to make sure what I’m doing contributes to the weekly goals, and ultimately the monthly goals to keep me on track.

      4. Focus on Big Rocks

      Big rocks are the important, high impact activities. Ask yourself if what you are doing makes any real impact. If not, stop working on it.

      If it’s a small yes, deprioritize, delegate it to someone else, or get it done quickly. Seek out high impact tasks and spend time on them instead. Knowing the big picture helps you know the big rocks that contribute to the end goal.

      5. Set a Time Limit

      Parkinson’s Law

      tells us work will take however long we want it to take. If you give yourself 4 hours, you will finish it in 4 hours. If you give yourself 3 hours, you will finish within 3 hours. If you don’t give yourself any time limit, you will take forever to do it.

      Set the time limit and finish the task by then. There can be a million things you can do to improve it, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

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      6. Be Okay With Mistakes

      Part of the reason why a perfectionist obsesses over their work is because they want it to be mistake-free. However, trying to achieve 100% perfection is highly ineffective. If we’re busy perfecting this thing, we can’t get to other important things.

      Realize that making mistakes is a trade off we have to embrace. The more we open ourselves to making mistakes, the faster we can get down to learning from them, and the quicker we can grow.

      7. Realize Concerns Usually Amount to Nothing

      It’s good to plan and prepare, but there comes a time when we should let things roll and deal with problems as they crop up. Being overly preemptive makes us live in an imaginary future versus in the present.

      This doesn’t mean you don’t care. What it means that most of the things that do crop up can always be controlled on the spot, without worrying about them beforehand.

      8. Take Breaks

      If your productivity is waning, take a break. Resting and coming back to the same thing later on gives you a renewed perspective and fresh focus.

      The Bottom Line

      Perfectionism doesn’t have to be the enemy. If you’re a perfectionist, you can use it to help you be better at what you love to do. However, there’s a time and a place for it, and it’s important to learn strategies to start overcoming perfectionism when it becomes an obsession.

      Instead of doing work perfectly, do your best and move on. This will help you go farther, faster.

      More on Being Your Best

      Featured photo credit: Elsa T. via unsplash.com

      Reference

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