How To Protect Your Energy

Every day is an attack on our senses.

Rude people on the subway. Your boss losing his temper. Blood and thunder on the news. Endless clickbait on social media.

You must protect your energy against this onslaught, or you’ll get swept away by it.

Learn about managing negative people, why you must monitor your thoughts, and how to effectively recharge yourself.

Why It’s Important To Protect Your Energy

We like to think of everything in terms of money. But the real currency in life is energy. With enough energy, you can achieve anything:

  • You can eat healthy and live longer
  • You can sculpt the perfect physique
  • You can build that passion business
  • You can have these romantic adventures
  • You can read the best books

And yes, you can also make a boatload of money if that’s your wish.

But just like money, energy is a limited resource. We only get a certain amount of the stuff every day. Once it is used up, you become ineffectual.

It’s like the battery in your smartphone. When you wake up in the morning, just like your phone, you are fully charged. But as the day goes on, you exhaust your battery.

Thus, you must manage that energy wisely. If you constantly expose yourself to pointless stressors, your battery will die quickly. You will have nothing left for the truly important tasks in your life.

Most people never bother with protecting their energy. But towards the end of their lives, they come to regret their mindlessness. They wonder, “Why didn’t I travel the world?” or, “Why didn’t I pursue my passion for painting?”

The answer is you didn’t manage your energy wisely. You allowed outside factors — other people, work, urgent events — to determine how you spent your energy. And now you have nothing left to spend.

Don’t let that be you. Protect your energy.

12 Ways To Protect Your Energy

Here are 12 strategies to safeguard your energy.

1. Manage Negative People

Some people revel in negativity. They love to gossip. They enjoy putting other people down. They get a kick out of seeing others suffer.

These people will do everything in their power to entangle you in their drama. This is why you must keep your distance.

However, this is not a black-or-white thing. There are levels to this.

Some people will simply be fantastic to be around. I call these 2-week people. If they were to come on a 2-week vacation with me, I would have a great time.

Then there are people who are enjoyable to be around for two hours or so. Catching up with them is a pleasure. But once that is done, you want to move on.

Other people will only be tolerable for 20 minutes before their negativity prevails. Relatives often fall into this category.

And some people, you might only be able to suffer for two minutes (if at all) before you must remove yourself. Their negativity is a constant.

What To Do About It

It’s your job to figure out who fits into what category and act accordingly:

  • Make a list. Put the people in your life into the four categories — 2-minute people, 20-minute people, 2-hour people, 2-week people.
  • Look at the 2-minute people and see whom you can cut. It’s an instant win for your energy management.
  • From now on, give each person the slot that you assigned to them. Next time you meet your annoying aunt, excuse yourself after 20 minutes.
  • Revisit the list regularly to add new people but also to reevaluate your existing contacts. You don’t always get it right the first time.

2. Never Hate

Never hate, for several reasons.

First, annoying people are a given in life. They have been around since the beginning of time and will be around until the end of time. There is no point in getting upset about them.

Second, when you allow your hate to get the better of you, the other person has won. You have bought into their frame and are now wasting your emotional energy on it.

Third, nobody is born a jerk. Every person has a story. Maybe they never received any love. Maybe no one taught them better. You should pity them, not hate them.

What To Do About It

If you are prone to feeling hate, start monitoring your thoughts. Daily journaling is great for that. Ask yourself in writing:

  • What exactly triggers me about this person?
  • Why is that? Am I possibly projecting my own shortcomings on them?
  • What could I do to avoid these triggers?
  • How can I learn to deal with my unresolved anger issues?

3. Take a Critical Look At Yourself

If you regularly experience a lot of negativity in your life, it’s because you attract it.

There are two versions of this:

  1. You might be a drama queen without even realizing it. And this attracts other drama queens.
  2. You lack boundaries. If you are a pushover, negative people will sense that. They will leech onto you.

Either way, the problem is you.

What To Do About It

In instance 1 — being a drama queen — you need to take care of this behavior. You need to understand why you only thrive under negativity. Therapy or coaching are good tools to figure that out.

In instance 2 — having no boundaries — you must practice saying “No.”

Make this a 7-week experiment. During week 1, on Mondays, you will politely but firmly reject any request coming your way. During week 2, you add Tuesday. During week 3, you add Wednesday. And so on.

By the time 7 weeks have passed, you will be an expert at shutting people down. You will no longer be taken advantage of. 

4. Stop Indulging

There is a reason why we allow ourselves to get triggered by others — in a perverted sense, we enjoy it.

We enjoy getting worked up about our stupid boss.

We love bitching about our jerk of a boyfriend.

We get off on lashing out at our dumb parents.

As long as we are busy getting huffed up about everybody else, we don’t have to deal with our own flaws. We don’t have to do the hard things that would propel us forward, like learning that difficult skill or starting that business.

What To Do About It

Make an agreement with yourself — whenever you catch yourself getting worked up, go work on your most important project for 15 minutes.

You will either stop projecting onto others or get lots of meaningful work done — both positive outcomes.

5. Stop Watching the News

Most of us watch the news every day. We feel obligated to keep up with what is going on in the world; being informed citizens and all that.

But in truth, the news is a misery machine.

Just look at the homepage of any news outlet. Murder. Corruption. Scandals. Natural catastrophes. Sexual harassment.

What emotions do these headlines elicit in you? Anger. Sadness. Hate.

That is their whole business model — to make you feel agitated. Because the more upset you get, the more time you will spend looking at their content. And that means they can show you more ads which is how these big media corporations make money.

In essence, you are wasting your energy on matters that don’t personally concern you, so that rich media moguls get even richer.

But there is no point in blaming the evil media. The only reason they are getting away with it is because we, the mindless sheep, are so quick to gobble up that concoction of misery.

What To Do About It

You must stop being a sheep. Make a pact with yourself to never check the news again. Granted, this will be tough. We are hardwired for gossip and we have been indulging this vice our whole lives.

Here are some ideas on how to make the transition easier:

  • Get an app to block all news websites on your smartphone and your laptop.
  • Tell your family and friends about your resolve; by making it public, you are more likely to go through with it.
  • Tell everybody you know on social media to enlist even more peer pressure.
  • Consider getting an accountability buddy or hiring an accountability coach. Goal adherence goes up significantly when you must report to someone.
  • Use a service like to create a negative incentive. For example, every time you check the news, you must pay $50 to a cause you despise.

As you can see — to protect your energy from the news, you first have to spend a significant amount of energy to wean yourself off the news.

6. Cut Out Social Media

Social media is the news on steroids. Spend half an hour on any social media platform, and any energy you felt before will be gone.

What makes social media so much more powerful is its ability to adapt to you.

The news offers the same information to everybody; they must cater to the smallest common denominator in their readers.

Social media has no such limitations. It will show you exactly what excites you most. If you want to look at big booties, it will show you that. If you get a kick out of watching soldiers getting shot, it will show you that.

The algorithm will fit itself around you so you stay on the platform as long as possible.

Also, social media knows no limits.

With the news, the media company is responsible for the content. If they show something deemed too extreme, there will be a public outcry. If they blatantly lie, there will be legal and financial backlashes.

With social media, everybody is a content creator. That means there is zero quality control. Anything goes. It caters to our lowest instincts.

In this way, social media eliminates any boredom from your life. It gives us exactly what we want and it has no moral constraints. Just grab your phone and start watching Instagram reels. One dopamine hit will follow another.

But these dopamine hits come at a price. The more you get carried away by the virtual drama, the less energy you will have to act on your own ambitions. Life will pass you by.

What To Do About It

To get off social media, you must create a more exciting life for yourself. Stop getting your kicks online. Stop looking at people having adventures and start having adventures yourself.

A lot goes into that:

  • You must quit your 9 to 5
  • You must become location-independent
  • You must become fit and healthy
  • You must learn to create social opportunities for yourself, i.e., make friends and initiate sexual relationships

If that sounds like a major life project, well, it is. But it’s the only way to quit the drug that is social media.

7. Quit Your 9 to 5

Our single biggest energy suck in life is our 9 to 5.

For half of your time awake, you are forced to do something that you despise:

  • You have to wake up to the sound of an alarm.
  • You have to commute to work.
  • You have to sit in your cubicle.
  • You have to do pointless work.
  • You have to attend absurd meetings.
  • You have to endure the office gossip.

Then there are the hierarchies. If you want to work your way up, you must suck up to your bosses. But everybody else is gunning for the same position. There will be infighting and scheming.

Of course, you feel drained when you finally get back home. You can practice all the positive thinking in the world, but as long as you hold a 9 to 5, your energy will continue to seep away.

What To Do About It

You need to get out of your 9 to 5. Here are some ideas:

  • Start a passion business. Create that YouTube yoga channel you always talk about. Write that sci-fi novel. When you get paid for doing what you love, work stops feeling like work.
  • Radically cut your expenses. Move to a cheaper apartment. Sell your car, take the bike. Shop at the discounter, and cook all of your meals at home. This way, you can get away with only working odd jobs.
  • Go off-grid. Buy some land in a rural part of the country and build a hut. Grow your own produce and have your own livestock. Go hunting. It sounds radical but there are plenty of people who have done it and never looked back.

8. Prioritize “Important”

Most of us constantly give in to the urgent. We reply to every message. We answer every call. As soon as a notification pops up on our phone, we are on it.

But this way, you have no energy left to take care of the truly important things in your life. You will never start that workout regimen or build that side hustle.

What To Do About It

Build the right habits to ensure the important things get taken care of:

  • Never check your phone first thing in the morning. Ideally, don’t look at it until lunch.
  • Always work on your most important task first thing in the morning.
  • Every time after taking a break, e.g., after lunch, get to your most important task first.
  • Consider taking a nap in the afternoon. Right after waking up, spend some time on your most important task.

The idea is always the same — give the prime spots in your day to your most important work.

9. Reduce Complexity

There is a limit to how many projects you can take on. Once that threshold is reached, our brains spin out of control. It’s a massive energy sink.

The problem is that we are greedy.

We don’t want to choose. We want it all. We want to have that perfect body. We want to build that successful startup. We want to have that thriving social life.

But if you don’t want to miss out on anything, you are guaranteed to succeed at nothing. As the Russian saying goes: “If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.”

What To Do About It

Look at every area in your life and ask yourself, “How can I reduce complexity?” Here are some examples:

  • If you are currently working out at the gym, consider switching over to a minimalist bodyweight workout. It will cut your workout time in half.
  • If you are currently trying to build out several different marketing channels for your business, pick the one with the most potential and go all in.
  • If you are currently part of a huge social circle, consider zooming in on a handful of close friends. Quality over quantity.
  • If you are currently pursuing five different hobbies, pick one. Go with the one that creates the most joy in your life.

10. “Download” Your Brain

We have dozens (if not hundreds) of open loops in our lives.

That tax report we still have to file.

That friend we have still to call back.

That thing we still have to get repaired.

These open loops live in our internal memory. Our brain is constantly reminding us about what we still have to do. But it is terrible at this task. It’s not good at choosing the right context. For example, you’ll think, “I still need to get cat food,” while taking a shower. How is that helpful?

It’s a waste of precious mental energy — energy that would be much better spent on creative endeavors.

What To Do About It

To resolve this, you must “download” your brain. You must create a second brain outside of your head. Once you have all your to-dos organized in one external place, all that mental RAM will be freed up.

Here is how to do it:

  • Capture whatever recurring thought you are having in a central inbox. Use a tool like Evernote or OneNote.
  • Go through the items in your inbox and move them onto the appropriate sublist:
    • Date-specific items go on your calendar (events, meetings).
    • Actionable items go on your to-do list (“Buy milk at the supermarket”).
    • Interesting future ideas go on a someday/maybe list (“Learn Spanish”).

If you would like to learn more about my GTD-inspired process, check out this article.

11. Increase Self-Awareness

We have talked about several energy traps so far. But it’s one thing to know about these traps and a different thing to recognize them in yourself.

The key is self-awareness. You must learn to read your reactions to energy-sucking events in real-time.

What To Do About It

Several times throughout the day, check in with yourself. Ask yourself, “Am I currently wasting energy?” It can be helpful to set a recurring alarm to remind you of these self-check-ins, for example, at every full hour.

Be patient. Learning to listen to yourself is a skill. Like all skills, it takes time and practice. But once you master it, it will revolutionize your life. You will be able to stop energy-sucking activities in their tracks.

12. Learn To Recharge Yourself

No matter how good you get at protecting your energy, sometimes you are going to fall into an energy trap. Nobody is perfect.

But don’t give up on your day yet. You can still turn it around. You can recharge yourself and start fresh.

What To Do About It

The best tool to recharge yourself is meditation.

Whenever you find yourself in a stressful, energy-sapping situation in life, meditation can help you get back to zero. It will help you leave that anxious state behind and return your peace of mind.

Here is how to go about it.

Find a quiet place, sit down, and close your eyes. Now, watch yourself. Observe yourself as if you were an outsider looking in on your mind and body.

Notice the myriad of thoughts flashing through your head. Pay attention to how rapidly your breath is going. Acknowledge that tightness in your back.

Don’t suppress anything. If you are angry, watch yourself being angry. If you are sad, watch yourself being sad. Observe it, whatever “it” is.

By doing so, slowly, all that anxiety will fade away. This already feels pleasant.

If you keep going, you will start to sink even deeper into yourself. Your body will start to feel extremely heavy but in a pleasant way. It’s a deeply relaxing sensation.

Sometimes (rarely) I experience one more stage. It’s an abrupt switch. Suddenly, I am no longer aware of my body, but inside a large, endless space. I start falling through that space, free of any worldly restrictions.

It’s one of the most exhilarating sensations I have ever felt.

When you return from one of these journeys, you will feel rejuvenated. Where you felt depleted of energy just 15 minutes earlier, you are now bursting with “aliveness.”

As with everything, practice makes perfect. You must meditate daily, to get to these deep states of consciousness reliably.

At the same time, you don’t want to force it. If it doesn’t happen that day, so be it. Keep at it, without expecting too much. That’s exactly when your expectations will be surpassed.

Leave a Comment