‘Regular’ people vs. energizers

This has been constantly on my mind the past few weeks as I’ve thought about my balance between work, my personal projects, relationships, and the rest of my activities. A lot of people say you only get busier once you graduate college. From there until retirement your life consists of more responsibility and obligations. More things to do. More stuff to be taken care of. I agree with this at it’s face value.

With all of this to do, how you prioritize and use your time becomes really important. The ability to get things done becomes an invaluable, if not necessary skill. It’s also worth noting that prioritize and use are separate but work together.

I’ve been thinking about my getting things done competency lately as it relates to my creative projects and other pursuits. On one hand, there is your typical post-grad. Work 40-60 hours a week, go out on the weekends, fill in with a hobby, side project or significant other. Mix and match a few but not all of those and you have a typical post-grad. On the other hand are what I will call the energizers. These people seem to do more than humans should be able to in 24 hours each day.

Best example of an energizer? Easy. Casey Neistat. Check out this screenshot of his daily routine explanation and watch the video for more detail.


First, context. Casey is the CEO of Beme, a video sharing app. He has a wife and two kids. He runs marathons. Oh, and he posts at least one fully produced YouTube video every. single. day.

Next question, how!? He discusses it every once in a while in Q&A videos, but from what I’ve distilled by watching his videos and other people like him there are a few consistent traits real-life energizer bunnies share.

What it takes to be an energizer

1. Goals
You must be striving for something. You can’t be aimlessly wandering about trying things for a week then moving on. For how pivotal I think they are, I’m also terrible at setting them. Goal setting is damn hard. You have to make a conscious decision about what you want, then be willing to fight for it.

Setting a goal means setting a direction for yourself, which is scary, especially if you’re young. Like I said, I’m working on this too.

2. Focus
You can’t be distracted. Outside forces and time wasters can’t deter you.

Out of all these, focus stands out to me as the toughest opponent for my peers and I. Attention spans, information overload, lack of direction, entitlement, all things that hurt focus. It’s also really hard to focus when you don’t know what you are working towards, or waver in your commitment to it.

3. Commitment
Commitment is easily understood. It’s not a complex concept. But people don’t understand the level of commitment you need to get what you want. You can’t be in it for a month or six months. Whatever goal you have, are you willing to commit years to get it?

Heard of the 10,000 Hour Rule Malcolm Gladwell coined? Do you know how long it would take to master a skill if you worked 40 hour weeks only on that one thing? It would take over four years. Are you willing to put in the time?

A bigger question: Would you enjoy the process? Would you be happy?

4. Internal motivation
There are two types of motivation. Internal and external. I believe internal motivation is vastly more powerful. A man pushed by his own will fights harder than a man pushed by another.

One caveat: I believe great leaders can create internal motivation in others. I highly recommend Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why” TEDx talk for a dive into the leadership side of this.

What are you motivated by? Why is your goal what it is?

5. Support
Positive support comes in where internal motivation fails. There will be a low point along the way. Having a support system to pick you back up when you fall or give you a push can be a saving grace. It can be family, friends, co-workers, bosses, it doesn’t matter.

Humans do things together. We rise higher when we lift each other up.

How to become an energizer

You don’t need all five of these. I would say you need three to really get what you want.

Personally, I give myself a 2/5 on this list. I have support, and I give myself a 0.5 on both commitment and internal motivation. Goals and focus are where I really need work.

Don’t read this thinking I have it all figured out. Not even close. I’ve made a lot of progress in the past few years, but in these situations some healthy comparison to a top-performer is helpful.

Another simple caveat is this isn’t for everyone. Maybe being an energizer isn’t a part of your goal. Maybe it sounds miserable. That’s okay, I’m only speaking from my personal experience. A lot of people I look up to share these qualities so it’s something I respect and aspire to.

That being said, what about you? How many of these traits do you have? Should anything be added or taken away from the list?

Reply and let me know, I really want to hear.

Note: This post first appeared in my Sunday newsletter. If you enjoyed it, subscribe here to get more of my thoughts on business, careers, and creative pursuits. 

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June 23, 2016

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