What energizes you?

Book Journey

Table of contents

Hey friends,

I originally set myself a deadline to complete the draft of my book by the end of March 2022. That deadline is about a week away. But the draft of the book is quite a distance away…

The good news is that I’m feeling okay about this. I’m enjoying the process of refining and researching the ideas for this book. As I often tell myself and my team, I’d rather take a bit more time to write a decent draft than meet an artificial deadline with a bad draft. What’s more, I feel energised whenever I work on the book and talk to people about it.

✍️ What we worked on this week

This week, we took a deep dive into the following topics:

  • Anxiety and procrastination - The responses to our recent survey showed that a lot of people experience anxiety, fear, and pain around procrastination. We wanted to understand that better: What is anxiety? Where does it come from? How does it manifest? How is it related to procrastination?
  • Energisers and drainers - One thing that I hear a lot is “I just don’t have the time or energy to do X.” Is there a way to fix this? We wanted to understand whether there are any solutions to common problem. Is it possible to get more energy from the things that we have to do?

🧠 The most interesting thing we learned

Our research on “energisers” and “drainers” reminded me of my conversation with behavioural scientist turned dating coach Logan Ury. At some point during our conversation on my podcast, I asked her how we can check-in with ourselves after a date.

Logan suggested this simple exercise called “penthouse vs basement person”. The exercise involves asking yourself: Did that person energise me or de-energise me? Someone who is a penthouse person would bring your energy levels up, make you feel creative, and make you feel inspired. Someone who is a basement person would do the opposite.

So, lately, we’ve been thinking about how to apply this “penthouse vs basement” idea to the concept of work. And I’ve learned a couple of things along the way:

  • Sometimes doing a hard but fun activity can be more energising than doing an easy but fun activity. Other times, doing an easy activity is the exact thing I need to recharge. For example, there are times when playing World of Warcraft for 3 hours is what I need to reset and other times when doing that leaves me depleted and wishing that I had done something else like learning The Joker and the Queen by Ed Sheeran on guitar.
  • The same activity can have different effects on our energy. Days in the hospital looked pretty similar if you just looked at it from a timetable perspective - I was seeing patients, writing up records, discharging patients. Yet, there were days when I felt energised at the end of a shift and other times when I felt completely drained.

This might seem obvious - “yeah, of course some activities energise us more than others!”. But it’s not obvious to me why different activities or why the same activity done at different times affects our energy in different ways. My hunch is that how we feel after an activity probably depends a lot on when we do it, how we do it, and whom we do it with.

❓Question of the week

Which leads me to the question of the week…

🔋 What are some examples of activities (or work tasks) that energise you? Why do you think these activities energise you?
😮‍💨 What are some examples of activities (or work tasks) that drain you? Why do you think these activities drain you?

I’d love to hear about your energisers and drainers. If you’re up for sharing your thoughts on this, please reply here.

As usual, the form will ask you for your name and email (optional) so that we can give you credit for the story in the book, or potentially reach out to you to ask for more details 🙂.

📢 Answers from last week’s questions

Thanks to all of you who took part in our survey last week where we asked you for ways you make boring work more fun. We read through all your responses and loved them! We wanted to highlight these 3 responses:

Martje shared this cool hack using spreadsheets:

For my PhD I had a mountain of data collection that never seemed to get smaller. So I divided the tasks in 15-60 minute tasks and made an excel spreadsheet. For each task I finished I’d get a point and at the end of each day I’d gain 1-3 percent on my total. Not much but it gave me the motivation to keep going and do extra stuff if I knew I’d get an extra percent.

Billy shared how choosing to do something really well can help make tasks more enjoyable (this totally resonates with my “get to” vs “have to” mindset shift):

My tip for making tasks I’d rather not do more enjoyable: I ask myself, what would it look like to do this really well, and what might be the outcome if that’s what I did? For instance: What would make this the best email so-and-so received today?… In my experience, identifying something you don’t want to do and choosing to try to do it extraordinarily well is very satisfying, sacred even, a kind of religious experience.

Akku shared how the magic triangle of music, games, and friends makes studying for med school more fun

Music, Games and Friends These are the 3 broad ways I make studying fun during medical school. (1) Playing soundtrack music helps me focus… (2) You can make something a game by having an element of risk of failure + reward. Using Anki is a great example…(3) Friends can be a superpower if used correctly.

We’re looking forward to featuring a few more or your responses next week!

That’s it from me for now. Have a great week!

Ali xx


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