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Money vs. Energy: How to Create an “Energy Budget” For Your Business

Ever feel like you’re running on fumes? Like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the work that needs done? If so, you might be maxing out your energy budget.

Your energy budget is the total amount of energy you can sustainably spend working on your business. The better you understand your energy budget, the less burnt out and more fulfilled you’ll be. Here’s how to determine your budget and start implementing it in your work.

What Is An “Energy Budget?”

Just like you have a limited amount of money to spend in your business, you also have a limited amount of energy you can use every day. If you consistently overwork yourself, you might end up frustrated, burnt out, and resenting your business.

The trick is understanding how much energy you can expend in a day or week without burning out. Some tasks drain your energy budget, and others revitalize you, adding to your budget. When you find a balance of these, you’ll love your work more and learn to be more consistent.

While it’s hard to put a number on your energy budget, understanding how much you have to spend can help you determine which tasks are most important and which don’t need or deserve your energy.

How to Create & Implement Your Energy Budget

Ready to reach your money goals? Start by breaking down these four false beliefs.

STEP 1: Determine your daily limit.

Everyone has a limit to how much consistent, focused work they can get done in a day. If you can determine your limit, you can avoid overworking yourself and stay within your energy budget.

To determine your energy limit, spend a week closely tracking your work time. Track how long you worked on each task, what kind of work you were doing, and how focused you felt doing it. At the end of the week, look at your times and figure out how much focused, undistracted time you spent working each day. You might find that you only spent a few hours each day on deep focused work. That’s okay! If that’s your limit, honor it. If you think you can work longer, try it for a few days and see how you feel.

Pay close attention to how long each of your tasks take to complete. More often than not, you underestimate how long a task will take to complete. This leads to overbooking your calendar, writing too long of a to-do list, and working late into the evening to get everything done. No one wants that!

The point of this exercise isn’t to fit as much work as you can into each and every day. It’s to find a comfortable, sustainable amount of work that you can do consistently. Pay close attention to how your work makes you feel, and don’t be afraid to cut your work time a bit short or take a break if you need to.

STEP 2: Identify which tasks drain you.

Once you’ve determined how much focused work time you can spend in a day, it’s time to fit your daily tasks into that budget. To do that, you need to figure out which tasks drain you and which revitalize you.

Write down every business task you need to accomplish in the next week. Then, put a + or - sign next to each one. Write a - for tasks that tire you out or that you don’t like doing. Put a + next to tasks that revitalize you or fulfill you creatively.

Personally, I like to get my - tasks out of the way before I jump into the + tasks. This way, I can end my day on a good note.

STEP 3: Create a daily energy budget.

Now, it’s time to create your daily energy budget. You’ll need to fit a balance of tasks into your day while not overworking yourself.

Here’s an example of an energy budget for a social media manager:

Total Budget: 5 hours

  • Design graphics for a client’s social calendar (2 hours)

  • Schedule a client’s social calendar (1 hour)

  • Answer client emails and send invoices (1 hour)

  • Brainstorm new caption ideas (1 hour)

With this budget, the social media manager spends all their focused time on important tasks and gets to end their day with a task they enjoy. And because they spent a week tracking their time (see step 2!), they know exactly how much time to set aside for each task.

STEP 4: Manage the overflow.

As your business grows, you’ll inevitably reach a point where you have more tasks than you can sustainably manage. When that happens, you have a few options:

  • Raise your prices. If you can’t make the profit you want in the time you have to work, you might consider raising your prices. Higher prices mean you can make more money in the same amount of time. And if you’re like most small business owners, you’re due for a price increase anyway!

  • Automate. Feel like your energy budget is getting eaten up by small, repetitive tasks? Why not automate them? With a CRM like Honeybook or Dubsado, you can automate pesky tasks like sending invoices, scheduling meetings, and even pulling reports.

  • Outsource. If the tasks on your to-do list don’t need or deserve your personal attention, outsource them. This frees up time and energy in your day while also helping a fellow service provider build their own business.

Of course, there will always be days when you have to work more than you’d like. But if you find yourself constantly going over budget, consider these options.

STEP 5: Adjust as you go.

Your energy budget isn’t set in stone. Any number of life events–a move, a new baby, a stomach bug–might impact your energy levels. Stay alert to your changing energy levels and don’t be afraid to adjust your budget along the way.

Want to create more time and energy for the parts of your business you love?

Download my Outsourcing Toolkit for tips on building your team and minimizing burnout.


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