How to manage your energy for more productivity
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Are you trying all the productivity hacks, and still not getting ahead? It might be because you’re not paying attention to your energy. Listen in and find how how energy plays a role in productivity!
Visit Brittany: Work Brighter | Energy Tracker | Instagram
Erin Flynn: Hey everyone. Welcome back to another episode of the Successfully Simple show. I’m Erin. And today I am here with my friend, Brittany. Brittany Berger is the founder of Work Brighter. She’s a content marketing consultant, mental health advocate, and a highly ridiculous human, who always has a pop culture reference at the ready. You can visit her at workbrighter.co. Thank you so much for joining us today, Brittany. I’m so excited to chat with you.
Brittany Berger: Thanks for having me on. I love the name of this. I love getting simple and staying successful, so let’s do this.
Erin Flynn: Awesome. So the first thing I want to chat about, this is something that you talk about quite regularly, is why hustle culture is actually so dangerous and detrimental to us as entrepreneurs. What are your views on this?
Brittany Berger: Oh, it’s so bad. And first I want to differentiate between hustling and hustle culture. Because I know a lot of people will counter with like, “Well you have to hustle sometimes.” And I’m like, “Yes of course you do.” But we are just kind of in a world and an online space right now where we’re encouraged to do nothing but hustle, and just live in these cycles of work until you can’t, and then rest until you can.
Brittany Berger: And I lived in that, I worked in tech startups where everyone not only worked 60, 70 hour weeks, but then also had a side hustle going on and also was building their personal brands. And so for the beginning of my career, I was doing all of that. And I mean yeah, I was able to progress in my career fast. But it was not worth it, because then I needed to take like a year long break when I reached such bad burnout.
Erin Flynn: Oh yes.
Brittany Berger: So I like to say that there’s kind of these two extremes right now, like, the hustle culture people that are just telling you to do nothing but hustle. There’s been the extreme opposite of that, where it’s just manifest it and think about it and you don’t really have to do any hard work. And Working Brighter is trying to do the mindset stuff and the hard work at the same time on a regular basis. So you’re not swinging constantly between these extremes.
Erin Flynn: I absolutely love that. I think that, yes, I’ve definitely seen both of those extremes. Like, “Wake up grind. What are you doing? Why are you sleeping? You only need a couple hours a night. If you’re serious, stop sleeping, stop eating, just work.” And that’s insane. That is not sustainable. Of course, doing a big course launch or something. There’s a lot of hustle typically involved in that. But that’s not a state you should be living in permanently.
Brittany Berger: Exactly.
Erin Flynn: That’s something that you can do to push something out the door or to meet a deadline or something. But you should not be doing that constantly. But yes, on the flip side, I definitely roll my eyes a lot about, “Just manifest it and it will magically appear.” And it’s like, that’s not how that works either. There’s, Oh, I-
Brittany Berger: [crosstalk 00:03:40] agree. There’s a popular quote I see a lot on Instagram. It’s, “Let it be easy.” And it’s, I’m not saying everything is going to be easy, but you have to figure out how to make things as easy as they can be for you and to balance easy with hard. And that’s where I know we’re going to talk more about energy management and that’s where that starts to come in.
Erin Flynn: Yes, totally. I think that we all wish that everything really could be easy. But I do think when you’re running your own business, there are times you have to put in work and sometimes it’s work you don’t feel like doing. And you can make note of those things and those can be the first things that you push off to a VA, when do you have the money to do that. Or start automating in your business. Those aren’t things you have to do all the time. But if you’re not willing to put in any work ever, you’re also probably not going to have tons of money just floating in magically either. So there is definitely that balance, and I’m really excited for us to chat more about that.
Erin Flynn: So I do, before we dive straight into the energy management, I do want us to differentiate between busy and productive. How do you differentiate those two?
Brittany Berger: I like to think of productive as more about intentionality and effectiveness and efficiency. So, in my programs, the way we define productivity is doing what you’re supposed to be doing, the way that you should be doing it. And because that also brings in the personal aspect of a lot of times productivity is talked about in a very one size fits all way. And that is what leads us into this hustle culture mindset. And so recognizing that it’s really personal. And writing writing productively for me or creating content in a productive way for me, is going to be totally different than what’s productive for someone else.
Brittany Berger: So doing what you should be doing, setting out to do what you’re supposed to be doing that day, whether that’s, hustling or resting. It’s really important to recognize that rest can be productive too. And taking time off can be productive, because it can be the best possible thing for you to do for your business and for yourself at certain times.
Erin Flynn: Oh completely. And I think this is a great segue into the energy. Because it’s also individual. There’s the idea of productivity means you checked this many things off the list, and you do things on this schedule, and you write all of your blog posts in one day and whatever. And that might work for some people. It does not work for everybody for sure. So how does that energy play a role in productivity?
Brittany Berger: So we really do not look at productivity. Like I said, from a wide enough point of view most of the time. We’re not looking at how it interacts with the rest of our lives. We’re not looking at how it interacts with our bodies. And we’re kind of thinking of it as just this on paper thing a lot of the time. And so, and when you do that then two tasks, both taking an hour are weighed equally. But doing an hour long interview versus doing hour long email inbox sessions, are two totally different things, energetically and productively.
Brittany Berger: And so when you’re only looking at productivity and work in terms of time management or task and project management, then those two different things, end up looking the same. And so you’ll spend an hour or you’ll plan your day around that. And then at the end of two different days, you’ll be like, “Why am I so tired? I did the same thing I normally do. I worked the same amount of I usually do.” And it’s because you’re not paying attention to how you’re expending your energy with different work.
Brittany Berger: So I really plan less around how much time I’m going to be working each day versus how much energy I have. So like today is a very heavy content creation day for me. So even though I only have about two or three hours of that, other than this interview, I don’t have anything else. Because I know that even though I have more time on my calendar, I have more room in my to do list. I know that after I finish these course lessons, I’m not going to have the energy for anything more that’s important.
Erin Flynn: I love that. And I think that’s actually so interesting just on what you touched on. And so I’d like to dig a little deeper into this. So for me, I’ve noticed tracking my energy. I have creative energy in the morning. And I know that not everybody does, but for me, if I want to write a killer blog post or I want to create a new lesson for a program, I better hit that thing running like very early in the morning, because that’s when my brain is going to be able to not only get the content out on the page easily for me, but it’s going to be a lot more interesting. It’s going to be better writing style than if I try and knock it out in the afternoon. So, but if I can’t do one day of blog posts, those would be the worst blog posts in the world.
Brittany Berger: Oh my God. Yes. So this is a really big thing I say that batching is one of the perfect examples of how we really need to personalize productivity. Because it is thrown out so much. It is such a popular productivity tip and it’s just thrown out in a very one size fits all way. I don’t batch content either. I cannot batch content. Even though I am a writer and I write 10, 15,000 words a week, I am never batching content. It’s never a whole, it’s spread out throughout. I create a little bit every day. And that’s because that’s what works with my energy.
Brittany Berger: And same, I feel like honestly, you can honestly tell when someone batches their content. Sometimes you can tell what came at the beginning of the batch and what came at the end. Especially with podcasts or videos, I feel like. Because energy is such a palpable thing in those types of mediums, that you can tell when someone’s creating content without much energy.
Erin Flynn: Oh completely. And I’ve actually been, so I have a couple of courses and I’ve actually been like going back through them. And they were things that I batched. Typically you don’t knock it out. And the content’s good. In terms of the information being there, that’s all there, but they’re not nearly as interesting. They don’t have little stories or anything worked in. Because I was just like, “I got to get this content out, I have to get my main points across.” And that was pretty much all that happened.
Erin Flynn: And so now that I’m revising things in my programs, I’m trying to do it more from a space of, I’ve already got the bulk of the actual content. But now I can make it interesting. I can weave in stories, I can start putting in more examples that will make things more relatable to my students. And that’s not something that I can personally do when I’m batching content. Other people maybe can, but I can’t.
Brittany Berger: Exactly. So I say that like batching is not a bandaid. It’s always, he’s looked at as a bandaid. And batching burnout is really real. So like for example, another thing for me is that I cannot batch calls. Because I am an introvert and I can only talk to other humans for an hour at a time, before I need to go back into my hidey hole. And so I used to batch calls. And the six months that I was heavily batching, my writing habits sucked. It was so difficult, even though they were happening on two different days. Because I would get this batching hangover and batching burnout. I would have a day full of calls. And so then the next day, even though I had zero calls, I would get nothing done because I was so exhausted.
Erin Flynn: Oh I think that’s such a great point too. So I do batch my calls. I am also an introvert and I batched them all for Thursdays. And on Thursdays I’m normally like, “Why did I do this to myself? This is terrible. Like why?” And this is my only call today, but normally I’ll have a Thursday with four calls in a row. And I’m like, “Why? Why did I do that?” And I know that I don’t have the energy to do podcast episodes if I have three or four in a day.
Erin Flynn: But for me it actually works okay. Because on Fridays I don’t really work. So I’m able to just do a little bit of admin stuff on Friday. Then I check out and do whatever I want to do in my life. So for me that actually works better, because I’ve tried spreading them throughout the week. But that’s something that I think is so individual. And if you don’t have the flexibility of basically taking the next day off and you’re an introvert and you feel drained, then batching calls, not a good idea.
Brittany Berger: Yeah. Like batching calls worked for me. I did that experiment of my productivity when I still worked at a day job. And it started off where I was batching on Fridays. Because I was just always batching my calls around the weekly team meeting. But then eventually that meeting got changed to Tuesdays and I was like, “Oh, I can’t batch calls anymore.” But yeah, Fridays it worked fine, because we would have our three hours of meetings, then we would go to a team lunch and relax, and then the rest of the afternoon I would literally just zero out my inbox and schedule social media for the next week. And so it was totally fun. Then I would have two days off. But yeah, once our meetings were moved it to Tuesdays, I was like, “Oh, Oh, this takes it out of me.”
Erin Flynn: Totally. So I do want to talk a little bit about, and we’ve touched on this, but you know those articles, the 50,000 or a million blog articles out there that are like, “But all successful people like Mark Zuckerberg do this in the morning. And if you want to be cool like the Zuck, you have to do this too. How do you… I cringe. I used to actually look at those articles and be like, “I should wake up at 4:00 AM. I should work out first. I am not a workout first thing in the morning person. I am not.
Brittany Berger: Oh my God, me neither. And there’s someone, there’s a runner in my membership who tried energy management and tried moving her workouts from mornings to her afternoon break. And she was like, “Guys, I cut a minute off my mile. I don’t know if it was really a minute, but she ran noticeably faster, just by going hours later and it’s wild. And yeah, oh my God, I have a tweet that was pretty popular and so I remembered it but, and I stand by it. That eventually the personal development aisle of the bookstore is going to need to branch off and just have this whole separate aisle just for morning routine books. It’s so I know exactly where you’re going. Yeah.
Erin Flynn: Those kill me. So do you, I guess in conjunction with that though, do you think that each person should have their own individualized routine for the day? Are routines inherently bad or is it just that we need to personalize them to ourselves?
Brittany Berger: No, routines are amazing. I like to say that I am very proud of how much I’m a creature of habit. I live by my routines. But yeah, I don’t follow anyone else’s routines. I come up with my own. And so inside of the Work Brighter communities, the only morning routine I recommend is waking up and asking yourself what do I need right now? And then doing that.
Erin Flynn: I love that.
Brittany Berger: So, yeah. So I do have a very pretty solid morning routine, but it’s just also, it’s totally for me and it wouldn’t be productive for anyone else.
Erin Flynn: I absolutely love that.
Brittany Berger: Yeah, if someone actually wrote a book about how to come up with their own morning routine, that’d be another story. And like, yes, am I working on a blog post about that? Obviously. Yes, I want to feel like [inaudible 00:15:29] . But yeah, it’s just all of the existing content around morning routines, it’s just entertainment. It’s not advice. It’s look at what these people do, but that has no bearing on how we should live our lives. And then also, has it ever occurred to like INK and Entrepreneur that not everyone wants to run a business like Mark Zuckerberg? Look at the trouble he’s been in lately.
Erin Flynn: Oh seriously. I do not ever want that in my life.
Brittany Berger: Not my goals.
Erin Flynn: Oh completely. I think that, I don’t know, it’s some sort of, we all… People think that we all should aspire to be like whatever celebrity.
Brittany Berger: Yes. It’s like going to the zoo or to a sports game. It’s just purely spectatorship. I think the only way that anyone can be trusted to even… I feel like there should be a pop up on those articles and say, “I promise that I will not take this as one size fits all advice.” And you have to like click, I agree, before you read it.
Erin Flynn: Oh my God, that would be hilarious, but also amazing if a magazine did that. That would be so cool.
Brittany Berger: Yeah. I have a subscription to Interact, and I’ve totally wanted to create joke quizzes. That’s like, “Find your perfect morning routine.” And it’s just one question, and it’s like, “What did you do this morning?” And then that’s the result and it’s just like, “Good for you. You did what you’re supposed to do this morning.”
Erin Flynn: I think you should do that. And I think that would actually be a hilarious lead in to your energy management, which I’m going to link to that. I was playing around with your energy management tracker earlier and I’m like, this is so great. Why is this not a bigger thing? Why is this not just a normal thing that people do?
Brittany Berger: Well hopefully, it will be.
Erin Flynn: We will make it the normal thing.
Brittany Berger: We’re making it a thing. Yeah.
Erin Flynn: I will definitely link that in the show notes so everyone can go grab that and start tracking their own energy. So that they can be productive in the way that they’re supposed to be.
Brittany Berger: Yeah, it is wild, some of the patterns that you can uncover once you start paying attention to your energy. I first started doing it probably about five years ago and at that time I was side hustling. I was starting my first blog and freelancing on the side of my day job. And at the time I lived in rural Delaware. And I had a 45 minute commute and I started work at 8:00 AM. So I had to leave work by 7:00 AM. Normally just without working, I had to wake up at 6:30. And so once I started trying to fit in my side hustle in the morning, like most of the common side hustling and starting a business advice recommends, I was getting up at 5:30. And yeah, I am a pure night owl.
Brittany Berger: And so like we were talking about earlier with content quality, none of my blog posts were fun back then. And it was a book blog and I would also, I was writing book reviews. I wouldn’t even be able to recall the details of the books in the morning. My memory was not there. And eventually what I did find starting to work and settled into was just finding a happy medium, where I woke up 20 minutes earlier. And I just read the books for my book blog in bed. And so I didn’t have to wake up, I didn’t have to start recalling facts or thinking. I just woke up with enough time to read a few pages and let myself slowly, slowly wake up.
Erin Flynn: Oh I love that. I love how you made that work in a way that actually makes sense. I am creative in the morning, but I hate getting out of bed. So if somebody is like, “You have to get up earlier.” I’m like, “Absolutely not.” But once I get up, I’m creative.
Brittany Berger: Well you could journal in bed.
Erin Flynn: Yeah, but it’s so interesting how different everybody is, so I can’t wait for everybody listening to go to your tracker and start seeing what works for them. Because I think it’s going to be really, really eyeopening.
Brittany Berger: Yes. Oh my God. If anyone tries it, you’ll have to let me know on social media what you find out. Because I bet you figure out and realize something awesome.
Erin Flynn: I think they will. So we’re going to wrap it up here to keep this short and snappy. And tell people to go get that tracker and start tracking. And then they can let us know. I will of course make sure that’s linked in the show notes. They can let us know what they find out about their own energy. So thank you Brittany so much for joining us today. Is there anything else you want to say or where can we find you online?
Brittany Berger: You can find me at workbrighter.co and on Instagram, I personally am @thatbberg and the Work Brighter community is @WorkBrighter.
Erin Flynn: I’ll make sure to get both those links in the show notes. So everybody can find you easily. Thank you again.
Brittany Berger: Thanks for having me.
Erin Flynn: Thanks so much for tuning in. Any links mentioned in this episode will be included in the show notes. Now, if you enjoyed this episode, please do me a favor and subscribe on whatever platform you like to listen to podcasts on. And if you really enjoy the show, please leave me a review because it helps me out a ton. Thank you so much. Now go take action.