The Buckets Exercise
A couple of years ago, I read a book called "The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal" by Jim Loehr.
In the book, Jim and his team studied tennis athletes and noticed the best in the world were still able to serve consistent speeds throughout a tournament. What they found was that in the 10-20 seconds between serves, their ritualistic bounces and shuffle, the top players would recover to almost full potential. They went on to study executives who, unlike many professional athletes, would play full-on for decades and were expected to maintain similar performance.
The book is a study and plan for living life at full engagement and, as the title suggests, managing your energy levels is more important than managing your time.
I find managing my energy is done most effectively when one's needs are met in 4 specific areas.
There are 4 areas of important focus for us to manage:
I look at each of these areas like buckets.
In each of these areas, there are things that fill our buckets and things that empty our buckets. Regardless of the bucket, when one gets low, our life gets out of balance trying to rectify the imbalance in that one bucket.
Think about it, when you are feeling drained mentally, all the other buckets might be full and yet you are feeling out of whack. When your values or spiritual bucket is empty, nothing else matters at the moment. When you are physically exhausted, you cannot focus on much of anything.
Therefore, we must work to keep all our buckets filled.
At the bottom of this article is a downloadable exercise for you to go through to determine what fills and empties your buckets.
When our buckets are full, we feel better.
When our buckets are full, we perform better.
When our buckets are full, we can do more to fill others buckets.
Now, just like the tennis stars who are able to recover their energy quickly between serves, we need a few ways to get our mojo back in a short time. At the end of the exercise, you are asked to come up with a couple of items that you notice will fill that particular bucket quickly.
In my case, a short phone call to my wife will fill many of my buckets and allow me to keep performing at peak performance. A pause in work for even 20 seconds to stand up and walk around my desk can return my focus.
For me, my most important bucket is spiritual. As a spiritual man, it is important for me to get myself centered each day so I start with some time in the bible. The funny thing is, if I don't get a good night's sleep, my morning focus time is shot. Therefore, my morning starts the night before ensuring I get to bed on time to get enough rest so I don't fall asleep as I read the bible. You can see how the buckets might work together to achieve that balance.
Having your physical bucket full allows you to focus mentally. When you are filled mentally, your emotional bucket is filled. Having a full mental bucket brings creativity to your spiritual bucket and helps fill that one.
Download the exercise and give some serious thought to it. You will find keeping your buckets full and having quick go-to fillers will help manage your energy and performance. This in turn will make a difference for your team, your family and your endurance.