Identify and Eliminate Your Energy Drains:

If you are feeling overwhelmed and drained, you might have difficulty knowing what areas of your life to work on changing. Most of us are unconscious about how our mental energy is used throughout our daily lives.

Some other factors that can drain your energy are:

Cluttered surroundings:

A messy desk or house can be very draining. I’ve found that clearing my desk and surroundings, and keeping my house uncluttered, has given me a peace that I would never have suspected before. It’s surprisingly satisfying to have a clear desk. Right now, the only things on my desk are an empty inbox, my monitor and keyboard, a phone, two photos of my family, and my Moleskine notebook. Everything else is completely clear. It’s lovely. I think our surroundings can drain us of more energy than we realize.

Negative co-workers:

Actually, I mentioned co-workers because they’re very common, but any negative people in your life can drain energy without you knowing it. They grate at you, irritate you, drag you down, get you into a negative cycle, and create conflict and anger in your life. It’s impossible to completely get rid of these people, but you should avoid interacting with them as much as possible.

Too many commitments:

Having a jam-packed schedule may make you feel important, but it’s extremely draining. I propose that you take a look at all the commitments in your life — work, personal, civic, etc. — and see which ones drain your time and energy without giving you much joy. Cut them out.

Unfinished tasks:

Have a long list of things to do? All those things piling up can really weigh on your mind. Here’s how to deal with it: First, see which tasks can be eliminated or delegated. Get them off your list. Now eliminate some more. Now choose a couple to do each day — just the really important ones — and using this number see which ones you can do this week (10 at the most). The rest you need to put on a second list (called “Someday/maybe” in GTD) … this is a list that you will take a look at next week, but for now, you’re going to concentrate on only 10 things per week. If you finish those 10 things, by all means, see what else on your second list needs doing, but until then, just focus on what can actually be done this week.

Unproductive relationships:

Similar to the negative people in your life, there are times when you have a close relationship with someone — a friend or family member, a partner or other loved one — but it is just not working out. Address this situation, and if it cannot be fixed, consider getting out of it.

Car/house needs repair:

A common problem that can really drag us down. Appliances need fixing? Car keeps breaking down? Something in your house been broken for months? These problems should be addressed, or they’ll keep bothering you. Set some time each week to deal with at least one of these problems.

Unclean house:

Similar to the cluttered surroundings item above, but even worse, in my opinion: this refers to a sink full of dirty dishes, or dirty laundry laying all over the house, or counters or tables that have food on them, or a bathtub with mold growing out of it. This may not be you, at least not to these extremes, but if your house is not clean then it may be draining your energy. I recommend taking a weekend to really get it clean, and then developing a clean-as-you-go habit — wash dishes right away, put clothes away or in the hamper right away, do a load of laundry when you get home, do a quick sweep or vacuum if you notice things getting dusty. A clean house can do wonders for your mood and energy.


TV can also drain your energy. Instead of watching TV immediately after reaching home, if you took a short nap or did a little exercise or took a shower, you might be able to pick that energy up and have a nice time reading a book or spending time with family or fixing that broken doodad that’s been bothering you.

Unhealthy food:

Many people don’t realize the effect that greasy, fatty, salty, sugary, fried food has on their bodies — besides just the higher risk of disease and obesity, unhealthy food makes you feel less energetic and can also lead to depression. Try eating healthier food — whole grains, fruits and veggies, nuts and beans, etc. — and you could find that you feel much better.

Being in control:

Often we try to control everything around us — our kids, our co-workers, every situation we are in — but the truth is, that’s impossible. Not only that, but it is extremely exhausting. Learn to relinquish control — just let it go! — and you’ll find that you get much less frustrated and feel much calmer and happier.