When the Going gets Tough. Personal Energy Management could be the answer

Are you running your business or letting your business run you? Regular TFM columnist Rachel Elnaugh discusses how Personal Energy Management can lead the way to get more joy out of your business and your life

Manage your energy, not your time: that was the message in a recent paper released by Harvard Business School on the new philosophy of Personal Energy Management. In an instant world where everything has speeded up, we all seem to be on constant output and there never seems to be enough time to do everything. Stress and overwhelming soon follows. Putting in longer hours has now backfired to the extent that people are getting demotivated, demoralised and ill - which in turn creates a vicious spiral because in that state they are even less productive.

However you will know from your own experience that time is not linear - when you are bored or depressed the hours drag, when you are doing things you love, time flies by. Put simply, Personal Energy Management is a technique of optimising your way of working so that you get more joy out of your life.

Put into a business context, here are 10 ways that you can instantly improve your Personal Energy:

We all spend our time being busy, busy, busy, but most of it is reactive -responding to emails, calls and external requests. It pays to stop the activity and spend some time clarifying exactly what you are trying to achieve. Most people don't have a plan for their day let alone their life. Ask yourself exactly what you want to get out of running your business. If the business is not currently delivering - or it is running you - then it's time to make some changes. Read Napoleon Hill's classic book Think and Grow Rich and create your own Definite Chief Aim Statement.

There is no better gift to yourself than to spend your lifetime running a business that you love. When you love what you do, you naturally attract all the right people and opportunities to make it a success. If there is any aspect of your business which currently brings your energy down, look at ways to delegate it, outsource it or simply cut it out of your business model altogether. You may even discover that you are in totally the wrong business - in which case it's time to get out, so you can free up your time to do something more fulfilling. Life is too short to stay in a business you hate.

It's easy to overlook all the great things which are happening in your business when they are overshadowed by problems and crises along the way. Acknowledging gratitude for every positive thing that happens - including celebrating every piece of new business or cheque that comes in - is a great way to get back to a place of hope and optimism.

Get yourself a presentation folder and keep a copy of every great piece of feedback about your business in it - press articles, thank you letters from customers, award certificates and so on. Keep it in reception or in your office where it is constantly on display. When the going gets tough, flicking through your 'Book of Smiles' to remind you of the good times will instantly boost your energy. In time, just thinking about the book will have the same effect.

When your business is going through problems it's all too easy to neglect eating properly, start unwinding in the evening by drinking too much alcohol and spending hours awake at night worrying. Looking after your physical fitness is key to staying positive, so make time in your day to eat nutritious meals, drink plenty of water instead of alcohol and caffeine and exercise a little each day - even if it's only a walk around the block.

Think of your emotions like a spiral - with joy/empowerment/love at one end and fear/anger/depression at the other. At any point your energy is either rising up the spiral or being sucked down it, depending on external events. Noticing how issues or people affect your personal energy is the first step in taking control of this process. Nothing can bring your energy down unless you let it, but in the short term it's a good idea to remove all those negative things/people from your business that regularly bring you (and your team) down.

It's worth giving some thought to your key values and making sure that everything you do in your business aligns to them. Choose five key words which sum up these values and pin them on your wall. For example, you might choose: Honesty, Kindness, Quality, Ecological, Professional. Ensuring that every element of your business is aligned with these values will automatically create a feeling of purpose and well-being.

When you head a business it is vitally important that you create time to be on 'input' instead of spending all your time on 'output'. Input time is when ideas to develop and improve your business will flow. Input time could be as simple as attending training seminars, business exhibitions or reading biographies of successful entrepreneurs. It also includes time thinking and relaxing - which is why most entrepreneurs' great ideas come to them in the bath!

Everything in your life is there because you attracted it in and everything in your current experience exactly reflects the quality of your past vibration. Are you working in a beautiful space or is it filled with clutter? Do you work with people you like (include staff as well as clients) or are you constantly attracting conflict and difficult situations? Remember, you can never change anyone else, so it's far better to work on improving your personal vibration. Focussing all your energy on the positive things (and ignoring the negative) is a good place to start.

If you are experiencing cashflow problems, it is often a sign of tension, fear and worry around mounting debt. The problem is, when you focus on the debt, your vibration is one of neediness and lack - which means you will attract more of it. Far better to try to 'soften your vibration' around money. Focus on times in your life when money was flowing effortlessly and how good that felt. Celebrate each receipt - however small - you could even try keeping photocopies of every cheque you receive to remind yourself how much your work is valued. Think of new ways in which you can offer value to your clients, or find new clients that you can offer value to. Remember, money is just a flow of energy and so the more positive you are during times of crisis the more likely you are to attract it to you.

Rachel Elnaugh