As an introvert, I'm always fighting fatigue and trying to manage energy levels. I really do like being around people, but too much social time D.R.A.I.N.S. me to the point of wanting to move to a cabin in the woods for a few years. I used to think there was something wrong with me, but over the years I've learned that it's really just about energy management and recharging time after a busy day or week.
If I think of my energy levels as a chart of months, weeks, and days it helps me plan accordingly and think ahead for major events--doing little chunks at a time preparing for birthdays, holidays, and big events. My weekly review helps me pay attention to the upcoming weeks. I can then plan my weeks keeping in mind that I always have more energy at the start of the week (especially if I have had a restful Sunday--which I'm trying to get better at), and that having a theme for each day along with a menu item that fits that day's activity is crucial for energy management.
Here are my weekly themes for this season of life. Of course, these have changed over the years from when I was working full time outside the home, working in the home with day care children, and at home with toddlers through the elementary years. But hopefully this will inspire you and give you a few ideas to manage your energy levels too. (And don't forget to leave me tips in the comments too!)
Monday--my highest energy day and the day I'm home all day--I do my big home cleaning (modified from FlyLady's Weekly Home Blessing) and it's also my anti-procrastination day (whatever I've been procrastinating on, I make my focus). I also try to pack this day full of my most important to-do items, though most of them get carried over to the next day, bullet journal style. But that gives me all week to rewrite and get them done. This meal is usually a meal that uses fresh food that won't last all week like fresh seafood, or it's a tortilla meal (tacos, burritos, enchiladas, wraps, etc).
Tuesday--We're out of the house part of the day for co-op classes, and because I know that I'll have less energy from being out that day, I make this my desk day. I focus on answering and clearing out my inbox, deleting unneeded files on the computer, organizing desk stuff, etc. The menu for this day is usually soup and/or sandwich day. My FAVORITE soup that I usually have all the ingredients for is this Broccoli Cheese soup.
Wednesday--another at home day, but a day I'm gearing up for a big social day tomorrow with a full day of co-op classes. So this is my Take Care of You (tcou) day. I TRY to get away for a bit on Wednesdays to just be alone and quiet. When my kids were younger, this was often going and sitting in the car in the driveway (really!). Now that they are teens and in and out of the house, I thought that I wouldn't need to leave the house for this, but there are so many distractions at home that I don't get that rest in that I need, so I still try to get out for an hour or so by myself. Sometimes that's going to a coffee shop, sometimes it's going to the neighborhood McDonald's and ordering a coffee or soda, but mostly it's driving to a quiet park with a book or my planner or prayer journal and just being STILL. (If any of you have awesome ideas of quick and cheap get away ideas, let me know!)
Thursday--this is my most social day, so if I did my week plan well, I'm ready to attack it head on. But--in reality, I know I'm going to be a zombie when I get home, so I make sure to coordinate my meal plan and either have a freezer meal ready to throw in the oven, or a crock pot meal to start before we leave.
Friday--Errands day. I try to keep all my errands stored up for this day. Since I'll be out of the house running errands this is also a simple meal day (pizza night). Once or twice a week we'll get deliery or bake-at-home pizzas, the other Fridays we do homemade pizza with pizza crust mixes that I make up ahead of time ready to dump into the bread machine. Ideally I'd like to have homeschool corrections done this day too, still working on fitting that in there!
Saturday--Meal prep morning and work around the house or have fun day. I get up early to have a nice slow morning with coffee and my Bible and a good book. Then I get into the kitchen and pre-prep the meals as much as I have time for. If I cook the ground beef for tacos, or mix the ingredients for other meals that keep well in the fridge, it makes the week that much easier. This is my Make 1, Freeze 1 meal on the menu. I try to make a meal that I can easily double and freezes well. It's so easy to do and it keeps a good store of meals that I can use to give to others who need a meal, or for myself (those busy co-op days or if there's a day I'm not feeling well).
Sunday--REST DAY. This is the day I look forward to most of all. We have church in the morning, and the rest of the day is REST. I can nap, read, relax, watch football, nap again, etc. This is a day where we usually have DIY meals, freezer meals, or leftovers. Usually by Sunday evenings I spend some time in my planner, planning out the week.
Now, this is all an IDEAL week. If I have a week where there is a lot going on outside the house it's not going to look like this, BUT, having a rough plan helps me tremendously with energy management and using my time well.
What about you? Do you have any great tips for energy management and still being productive? I'd love to hear in the comments below!