I think it’s neat that people tell me they can tell when I’m having a bad day. Especially my wife and close friends. I guess that comes with generally being very positive and energetic most days. When I have a day that isn’t so positive or I’m not feeling very energetic, it’s very obvious to those around me.
One source of entrepreneurial and personal energy efficiency for anyone, I believe, is to be aware of what kind of day you are having. I’ve learned that my days for the most part fall into one of three types: Good days, bad days, and blah days.
Good days are the norm, thankfully. I’d say that in general 7-8 days out of 10 are good days for me. These are days when my routines are working. I feel healthy. I feel happy. Good days are not without problems, but in general I can deal with them as they come and apply optimism, confidence, and occasional levelheaded thinking to the solutions. (Note, I’m not saying I actually do apply these solutions, I’m only saying the potential is there to be a good rational thinker.)
Bad days are inevitable. I don’t have more than 1 bad day every 10 days. On a bad day, everything just sucks. What looked happy and fun yesterday just seems annoying today. What was a small problem yesterday is a major devastation today. Personality quirks in friends yesterday are major character failures today. The kids behavior issues… well don’t get me started.
Then I have what I call BLAH days. These are the days in between good and bad. On blah days, there isn’t a reason to be overly happy, but nothing is really that bad. Laziness is probably a key manifestation of blah. I’m usually fairly productive, but it’s not satisfying. I may even do some fun things, but I’m just going with the flow. I probably have 1-2 blah days every 10 days.
So that’s the framework. That’s how I describe my days. This helps me in what comes next. Now for the good stuff. The good energy comes from:
1. Being self-aware enough to label your day. This is a huge energy source for me. When I know what kind of day I’m having, I am in tune with myself, and I can make decisions on my time that day based on this information. For some reason it is liberating to just know and admit that you are having a bad or a blah day. It is especially helpful to those spouses. (I include both “real” spouses and colleagues that have to deal with you all day long.. business wives, I call them.) Note, I’m not saying the spouse will give a flip that you are having a bad day, but at least you have a shot of avoiding an explosion if the announcement is delicately made that you aren’t your normal positive self that day.
2. Disengage from the world on bad days! For me, this is huge. I’ve learned that when I am having a bad day, I can’t fight it. It’s not worth the uphill battle of turning it around. In pilot speak, you are behind the curve on those days. The more energy you apply, the more you will drive yourself into the ground. Find a way to just let go on these days. Leave the office. If you are able, cancel unimportant meetings… or for that matter, meetings that are really important and depend on your full energy and attention. Stay away from long-term planning projects or dealing with people who already aren’t in the “favorite people” category. Just disengage. Go see a movie. Go to the driving range. Go workout. Get out of your head. I can tell you that I haven’t found any of this to turn a bad day into a good day, but I have found that my anxiety level goes down, and it passes quickly.
3. Turn a blah day around. Here’s the neat thing about labeling a day a blah day. Unlike a a true bad day, I believe these days can be turned around. For me, the trick that turns these days around is to talk to someone who you admire, who fires you up, and who makes you happy. Spend some time thinking about long-term, big-picture ideas. Get out of the low-hanging daily grind tasks, and do something that inspires you. Take a few hours to read a book. Go to lunch with a friend. Pick up the phone and call 3 people you haven’t talked to in a while and just catch up.
4. If your numbers are off, maybe there is a larger issue. I’m no psychologist, but I’m willing to propose that if you have a large percentage of bad or blah days, you may have some bigger things in life that you need to change. Maybe it’s starting to work out. Maybe it’s leaving your job and going to work somewhere new… or even starting a company yourself. Maybe it’s finally firing a team member who pulls you and the rest of your team down with negative energy or incompetence. No matter what, you should probably do something about it.
I hope this post will be helpful to you. It really has made a difference in my efficiency and energy each day.
Do you have any other categories of days? Do you have a different experience with bad days than me?