Let’s be real, burnout happens. And it can happen within work settings, social settings, even family settings. In today’s day and age where the emphasis is often on more is better- and doing over being- it requires some hardcore mindfulness to combat the burnout bug from taking over.
With burnout being more prevalent than ever, now is the time to figure out how to budget your energy. This is something I had to figure out at a young age, because I realized that when I didn’t- my burn out showed up in big ways. Like being hospitalized, and getting super sick. My body would literally just be like, “nope,” and decide to shut down.
Due to the fact that my experience of burnout was so drastic, it forced me to look at my energy in a whole new way. And, let me just say that I’m super freaking grateful I figured this out before social media. Because, shew, it’s harder than ever now in this age of information.
This is why I’m writing this post, considering it’s needed now in a big way. Today’s blog will uncover what the heck an energy budget it, how to figure out your energy type, and 4 strategies for budgeting your energy according to your type
How To Budget Your Energy To Reduce Burn Out
What is an energy budget?
I think of both my time and energy like a currency. And like any currency, it’s not an endless well- there’s a limit to how much I can spend before I’m tapped out. This is where the budget comes into play.
Think about your energy budget the same way you think about your financial budget. There are different components of your financial budget- like rent, gas, food, etc- that each have a certain allowance according to how important each item is, the percentage of your total pay that it takes up, and so on.
Similar to our financial budget, our energy budget is a way of saving, so that when life happens- you know, those big unexpected events- it doesn’t ruin us. The same way that when life happens, and we get a financial curveball, we have enough in savings that we aren’t out of a house or food. For more on learning about financial budgeting, check out my interview with Alix.
While your energy budget will work similarly, the categories are likely going to change. Instead of focusing on more tangible items, you’ll focus more on relationships and activities- like family time, work, socializing, alone time, and so on.
Start to make a list unique to you of where you spend your energy. Think about the things that drain you, the things that fill you up, and everything in between.
What’s Your Energy Type
Now, in order to budget your energy the most effectively, it’s important to understand your energy type first and foremost. There are certainly a variety of typing systems, beliefs, and practices you can use in order to find your energy and/or personality type.
To name a few: Human Design, Myers Briggs, Enneagram, astrology are all popular models through which you can better understand yourself, and in turn, your energy.
However, there’s also the danger of over-identifying with the label, the number, or the “type” that you land on. Which can actually stunt your personal growth, rather than enhance it. As much fun as all of these systems are, nothing beats good old fashioned mindfulness with a hefty dose of self-awareness to do the trick.
To make things as simple as possible, I’ve boiled it down to two different types of energy, as most people tend to fall in one or the other. Keep in mind, your energy will inevitably shift and change as you do. Not only on a more spiritual evolution, but also biologically speaking as your hormones shift and aging occurs.
I am someone with varied energy. This means that every given day, my energy allowance shifts, rather than a consistent amount every time I wake up.
Let’s relate it back to money again. Think about being an entrepreneur, versus having a corporate salaried position. As an entrepreneur, you never know if you’ll wake up and make $1 or $100,000. Whereas, in a salaried position, you’ll make the same amount every day, no matter what. Varied energy is like being an entrepreneur. There’s a level of unpredictability there. But it’s also something that can be better understood by watching patterns of those peaks and valleys.
Varied energy also means that outside forces will likely have a stronger influence on you than those with streamlined energy. Whether you’re a woman who still menstruates, making your energy impacted by your cycle. Or, you’re super sensitive, or empathic, making social situations really make or break your day.
It’s important to note that people with varied energy can save up energy from other days, weeks, or even months. Rather than starting with the same set amount every day, they’ll start with an amount that’s reflective of what’s already happened, and what’s currently happening.
Varied energy people will experience ups and downs based on what’s happening both in and around them. Witnessing those ups and downs is the first step in mindfulness that needs to occur for those of this type.
People with streamlined energy will wake up with the same energy allowance every day, no matter what. Okay, sure, this will likely vary if they’re sick, or maybe jetlagged. But for the most part, in the regular day-to-day of it all, it’s the same.
Just because streamlined energy folks have the same allowance every day, doesn’t mean that the peaks and valleys happen at the same times. They are still impacted by those things in and around them. Meaning, social settings and an annoying boss can still drain them faster than usual if they let it. But, the difference is that they’ll wake up with 100% energy the next day. Whereas the varied energy person might only be at 40% because of the day or the week before.
Those with streamlined energy cannot save up energy from the day or week or month before for a certain event. But rather, they can make little preservations and savings throughout each day.
If you have streamlined energy, it’s still important to notice that which drains you, and that which fills you in order to most effectively maximize your energy throughout the day.
4 Strategies To Budget Your Energy
Now that you have a list of categories, and (hopefully) have an understanding of your energy type- we can make you a budget! Yay!
There are 4 strategies for you to consider when making your energy budget, in order to create one that’s the most effective for you. Remember, what works for you might not work for your husband, or your sister, or your best friend. It’s unique to you, and you alone.
It’s also important to remember that your energy budget will likely change as you change! For instance, I used to be a much more social person when I was a child and in young adulthood. From play dates every day, to clubbing as much as I could- I loved to be in big, boisterous social settings. Now, that drains the hell out of me. One social event for the month, and I’m good.
Needless to say, if you start feeling like you’re running on empty, that’s a great indication that you need to reevaluate your energy budget.
To best understand your energy allowance, you need to first understand your energy type. If you have streamlined energy, then this means your allowance is the same every day. If you’re a varied energy person, this means that it will change depending on what else is going on in your life.
And if it helps you to actually give your energy a number to make it more concrete- then do that! Consider a full tank to be 100, and an empty tank to be 0. Burn out occurs once you dip below 0. You’ll have your own point in which you know you need to slow down- that place hovering right before you dip into burnout territory. For some of you, that might be 30 or 40, and for others it might be 5. The point is to notice what it is for you, and to try to stay above that number to the best of your ability.
The point of an energy budget is to have enough in our savings so that we’re not flattened by life’s events. Because we can’t control life, but we can control how we respond to it. And we’re way more likely to respond, as opposed to react, when we have the energy to do so.
Although the strategy for budgeting energy is the same for those with streamlined and varied energy, the way in which it’s done is slightly different. Think of seeing those with varied energy from a zoomed out approach, looking at the big picture. And those with streamlined energy from a zoomed in approach, looking at the close up of each and every day.
Both types can make small (or big) shifts to preserve energy, while only the varied energy people can actually take reserves with them into the following day. There’s the obvious benefit of those with streamlined energy in that they start each day with 100, but it’s also important to remember they can never surpass that. They can never add in more energy, while a varied energy person can.
One of my favorite ways of budgeting my personal energy is with cycle syncing my menstruation cycle. Because this truly deserves a full post in and of itself, make sure to check out my blog on cycle syncing to get a better understanding of the details.
The cool thing about cycle syncing is that it can be applied to more than just the menstruation cycle. This can be applied also to our circadian rhythm, for instance. Or, to different chapters or phases of life. We are nature. And nature works in these beautifully intricate, yet also incredibly simple, cycles of death and rebirth.
If you menstruate, I highly recommend checking out Alisa Vitti’s book In The Flo . And if you don’t, then think about your circadian rhythm, noticing the cycles in your day-to-day first.
Your energy budget will revolve around your cycles. Meaning, those cycles where you have high energy- you schedule the things that require a higher capacity (like for me, social events). And when you have lower energy, you schedule (or don’t schedule) that which doesn’t require too much from you.
Your calendar can truly be your best friend if you let it. I swear a leading reason for burn out goes hand-in-hand with pleasing people. There’s tons of varied energy people who really want to be streamlined energy people, so they act like they are when they’re not- and suddenly they’re running on fumes, because they’re trying to keep up with their streamlined energy friend or partner who wakes up at 100 every day no matter what happened the day before.
I love using the calendar in my energy budget, because it makes things a little more concrete for me, ensuring I don’t overspend. There’s also something official about having it in the calendar, ya know? So when someone asks you to do something, and you know it’s not a good idea based on the phase of the cycle you’re in, or because you’ll be coming off of something that drains the hell out of you- you can actually write these notes in your calendar with blocks of time to recharge.
Still leaning into our calendar friend for this one, because there’s truly nothing better than scheduled rest. Whether that means blocking off an extra 30 minutes on your Monday morning, because you know you move a little slower coming off the weekend, or whether it means booking an extra day of travel on either end to acclimate- make sure to take the time to schedule rest.
After teaching retreats for a decade, I realized that I needed to actually schedule rest after each retreat. The amount of rest would vary depending on my cycle, and whatever else was going on in my life- but it’s something that truly saved me from the crash and burn of it all.
Whether you’re a varied energy person who needs to have scheduled rest at all different points in your month based on the activities planned, or whether you’re a streamlined energy person who has pockets of scheduled rest throughout your day- just make sure to do it based on your own energetic allowance.
The most important thing when you’re scheduling your rest is that you have a strong understanding of when you actually need it. This is where mindfulness comes in. You need to notice those moments when you need to be plugged back in, and then schedule time to do that.
For some of you that might literally be resting, like taking a nap. And for others it might just be alone time, but doing a physical activity that’s not “restful” at all, but still recharges you. The main purpose of this time is to fill you up closer to that 100 mark. And to prevent dipping towards your burn out number.
As you start to create your own energy budget, make sure you’re doing so with compassion and curiosity of self above all else.
This means you’re able to observe yourself without judgment, in an effort to create an energy budget that will work with you exactly as you already are.
You’ve got this.