Energy sinkholes at work and how to avoid them

Trainer Maciej (Magic) Pawilkowski illustrates trying to do several things at once makes you slower.

Every day people do things on the job that needlessly drain their energy. Often, it’s things you might think are making you more efficient, but in reality, they’re slowing you down and sapping your strength. Here are five things you should avoid at work if you want to be less tired at the end of the day.

Stop multitasking. It may feel like you’re efficient switching between several tasks, but research shows the opposite. Every time you change from one task to another, your brain must adjust to the new information. When you attempt to juggle several things at once, the quality of all your work tends to diminish. What’s worse is all that mental effort you use to switch between tasks can quickly drain your energy and leave you feeling overwhelmed.

Common signs that you’re trying to multitask include checking your phone while you’re talking to someone, having several tabs open on your computer or a desk with multiple papers all waiting for your attention. If you forgot where you were in a task, or you said something like, “What was I supposed to do?” you’re probably trying to multitask.

Grab control back. Let people around you know when you need uninterrupted time. Take a break when you find yourself trying to do too much and prioritize what you’re working on. Don’t be afraid to turn off your phone, text notifications and email while you focus on your task at hand. You’ll get more done and feel less drained.

Straighten up your desk or workspace. When there’s a pile with several projects in front of you, it’s challenging to keep yourself focused on just one. One technique that helps me is to put each task in its own pile. Then make a list of them all and put them in order, from most important or pressing to least. Now put everything but the thing you’re working on away in a closet or drawer. Focus on what’s in front of you and as you finish, put the papers away and take out the next job. Just a couple minutes of sorting and organizing can really speed up the end result.

Learn how to say no. A friend of mine describes co-workers’ problems as a monkey they carry around. Monkeys can be loud and time-consuming, so they want to get rid of them. If it’s his job to take the monkey and deal with it, he does. But often, people will bring monkeys to him that have nothing to do with his responsibility. They just want to dump their problems on somebody else. So he politely but firmly says no. If he knows where they can get help, he points them in the correct direction.

He doesn’t say no every time. He’s a team player and knows that if his co-workers succeed, so does he. But he doesn’t take on someone else’s monkey without first making sure his are dealt with. Learning to say no can reduce your workplace stress and leave you feeling better at the end of the day.

Don’t let perfectionism stand in the way of getting the job done. Some people obsess about every minor detail, even when it doesn’t matter. A common tactic perfectionists use is to procrastinate until the very last minute. Then they rush through the job but justify sloppy work because they didn’t have enough time to do it properly.

Taking pride in what you do is important, but perfectionism (and procrastination) can lead to stress, fatigue and burnout. Learn to recognize the difference between things that have to be done perfectly, versus something that’s good enough.

Stand up every once in a while and go outside. Just 10 minutes of sunshine gives you a big dose of vitamin D and wakes you up as much as a cup of coffee. Schedule a couple of breaks a day to get out of your office and stretch. You’ll feel better and be more alert when work is over.

Check with your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise program. For a free consultation with a WeBeFit trainer, call 305-296-3434. Read articles online at and get updates by following us on Facebook.