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Energy Assessment

Lesson 15 from: FAST CLASS: Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life

Bill Burnett, Dave Evans

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Lesson Info

15. Energy Assessment

Lesson Info

Energy Assessment

So where we put our attention, where we spend our attention, our brain energy is actually how we experience our day. And we got a really simple tool, you've got the worksheet. It's a worksheet that looks like this. Things can be positive energy experiences, they can be negative energy, again this is subjective like our first dashboard. If when I do something, when I'm done with it I'm even more energized than when I started, like teaching this class will be that for us, then it's a high energy thing. If I do it and at the end of it I'm kinda drained or I'm just feeling really low, it's a low energy activity. So on that worksheet we want you to list and typically what I do is I just look at my day timer or my calendar on my phone and I go "what do I do all week?" Every week I have activities that I do some of them are repetitive, or if that doesn't work do a longer thing, do a month. And write down the energy things, the activities that you do over here and then I'm going to ask you to ...

map them. But first just write them down. I wrote these down. I do an art class once a week, I have a budget meeting because I have to run the group and I have to do budgets. I do office hours, faculty meeting, workout, teaching, you get the idea. Those are things that I do almost every week or every other week, they're just activities. So I want you to write down activities that you do that are substantial, take a certain amount of time in your week or your month. Get about six or eight of those. No judgements yet just make a list. Just, you know, stuff you do. I have a date night with my wife every other week, I coach my master students. What do you do? What's your week or your month look like? This is a very simple sort of assessment tool. You can do this at almost any point in time, particularly when you feel like "Wow something's out of balance I seem like I'm drained, at the end of every week I'm just exhausted." Or "At the end of every project I'm exhausted, You're spending a lot of time in PowerPoint. what's going on?" Yeah. So lets assume you have a list of those and I can just keep talking while you're making that list. I want you to put it on the timeline. Well it's not really a timeline, it's just, you know, events that occur. But it's actually good if you sort of put it in the order in which it occurs. So, I have an art class on every Monday night. Every Monday night I go to a little studio over in Mission and I draw naked people for three hours. It's fantastic. It's amazing. I've never had a figure drawing class and that was something I wanted to challenge myself with. It's fantastic, a lot of energy. Budget meetings, I hate budget meetings, they suck. Office hours, I love talking to my students, it's fantastic. Faculty meetings, you know I work with some of the top roboticists and medical haptics people, and some of the top computer scientists in the world, and we have a faculty meeting and we're talking about that stuff, it's amazing. When we have a faculty meeting and someone is saying "Who forgot to write down how many copies you copied on the copier, because we're twenty dollars out of balance," or something, it's a real waste of time. So it's kind of a plus and minus. I like my workout, I like teaching, hate house cleaning, love date night. And this one's interesting, masters coaching my master students, the ones I actually admit to the program. I have a coaching session with them once a week on their thesis projects, and I noticed, eh, that's kind of a bummer for me. So you do the same thing. The scale is sort of, lots of energy is higher than less, lots of negative is lower than less. Just subjectively place those on a scale, kind of in the order of which they happen in your life, and map the positive, negative, neutral. Don't agonize about it just sort of get them on there. And again you can do this assessment once a month, just as a quick, you know, ten minute exercise to understand how's the energy in your life flowing. How is the attention of this 500 calorie brain burning all that energy? What's it spending its time on? And does it feel more or less energized? So the next piece is, what do you notice about these energy patterns? And then, what could we do about them if we see something that we don't like? So one of the things I noticed is, of course, my art class is the highest energy thing. I find myself in states of flow. Now this is sort of a technical term, there was a psychologist named Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, he studied this. Flow is that state where you're working on something and you're really engaged and time seems to stand still, and you get a lot of energy out of it and you look up and you go "Whoa, it's one o'clock in the morning what happened?" You know? I find that happens in the studio for me or in my drawing class. The class is over and I'm not even ready to stop. So flow states are something to look for. If you find yourself in states of flow often you will experience things as pretty meaningful. Budget meetings sucks, it always does. The other one that was kinda interesting to me is, why do I not like my masters students? These are the students I admitted, and we're working on projects that I think are great. That's actually your favorite thing. It's my favorite thing and it was a really energy downer. So I want you to look at those things and notice what's going on. And then, the question you have to ask yourself is, what's relatively accessible to change either about the thing itself or how you do it. So there's two ways you can make a really simple change in your energy diagram. So for instance I noticed my budget meetings is always a negative but I am the executive director of the program, I have to do budgets every week. The university wants to know how much money we spend. So that's not something I can just say "I don't do that." I can't delegate that out. So what I do now is I've moved my budget meetings to always be between my workout and a class. Because then I've surrounded a negative with two positives and it kind of neutrals out. At the end of the week I don't remember the budget meeting, I remember that amazing interaction I had with a student. Just sequencing. Sequencing is a way to change the map. And the other one is masters coaching. So I should really like this and then I realized, oh, you know what, we're doing this in the studio. We have a studio stander called the Loft, it's a crazy place where all the students have all their stuff all over the place, but it's kind of their space and it's really noisy and it's really distracting and I was trying to coach in their loft spaces, and that wasn't working. I didn't want to bring them to my office because now we're in my space and we can't have a conversation as peers. So I do what Dave does. There's a patio outside the coffee house, and we go there and I buy them a cup of coffee and we have a conversation. And now masters coaching is almost a state of flow, because I'm working with my best students in an environment that works for all of us, for both of us. And they like it better too by the way. So you can change the sequence and you can change the place. So take a look at your diagram, and see what relatively small changes either in sequence or place, that you might be able to make, that would turn a negative into a positive or leave you net at the end of the week with more energy. You know, again, there's a high correlation between what you spend your time and attention on and how you feel at the end of the day. And it's not just about, like, wear rose colored glasses and every thing will be good. There's stuff you have to do and there's stuff you have to get done. But if you look at the energy that comes in and out of your day and your week, it'll give you a much better sense of where you're engagement is high and where it's low. The sequencing of things is important, also the place in which you do things is important. We were very careful to set this space up to be the kind of place we can create in. And energy, engagement are highly correlated to attention and to meaning. What you actually spend your time on, all the time, what you attend to, is in fact, the experience of your reality.

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