Personal growth

Where does your energy go?

Today I want to share an exercise that I found in a book called The magic of not giving a fuck by Sarah Knight. The main idea of the book and the method is make an inventory of where our energy goes.

The method

The 2-step method is very simple and it goes like this:
1. Make a list of everything you don’t want to care about.
2. Stop caring about those things.

That’s it. But to make that happen, she also provides us with some useful tools to help us succeed with the two steps.

The “F*ck Budget”

The method in her book is simple, but powerful. It helps you to make a budget of your energy and time just as you probably have a budget of your money. She calls it “The Fuck Budget” and it is a budget that will help you to get clear on what you actually care about (Or what you give a fuck about as she puts it) and what you actually don’t care about (or “give a fuck about” in Sarahs words)

Make an inventory of where you spend your time, energy and money

You will need:
4 pieces of paper
a pen
some markers (red, green and yellow.)
Time to do this. Make sure that you have at least one hour to be totally undisturbed to begin with.

Start with writing the four different categories (one on each paper):
1. Things
2. Work
3. Friends and strangers
4. Family

Now it’s time to start writing the lists. List everything that you:
1. Do give a fuck about and put your time, energy and/or money into and
2. Don’t give a fuck about but still put your time, energy and/or money into.
Do this with all four lists. This can take a while, but don’t be lazy. I highly encourage you to do this thoroughly. It will pay off in the end, I promise.

1. Things

The first category is “things” which is the easiest one. Things don’t really matter that much to us, and it is the easiest category to list for most of us.

That’s it. Everything gets into the list, whether it’s something that you care about or not.
Examples: Your laptop or Ipad. This might be something that you actually care about. Put that on th list. All the socks in your closet. Not so much. Maybe you can let some of those go. You do care about having some socks left however, so put that in as well.

2. Work

This includes everything that has to do with work. List everything that you do give a fuck about as well as everything that sucks your energy at work.
Examples of items on my list: meetings, coffee breaks, gossip, office politics, methods, people, clients, what I wear for work.

3. Friends and acquaintances

Sarah Knight puts friends, acquaintances and strangers in the same category because she strongly believes that the family category has a whole different mindset around it. We can say no to a friend or acquaintance, but it’s much harder to say no to a family member (even if we hate their guts).

So start to list all your friends and acquaintances. It can be close friends, clients, people you meet in your yoga class and so on.
Recommended article: Is it ok to let go of toxic friends?

4. Family

This category is the hardest according to Sarah Knight. We put so much energy into making ourselves lovable in the family. You can’t just say no to your own mother, now can you? Even if she treated you horribly and gaslighted you when you were a child. According to Sarah Knight, you can. And you must. If you want some time and energy left for yourself in the end.

List all your family members. Don’t be judgmental just yet. Just make the list.

Get the markers out

Now it’s time for the fun part! Take the markers and start to mark everything green or red. Green if it gives you time, energy and/or money and red if it steals your time, energy and/or money.

Do this quite intuitively. You KNOW deep down in your heart what drains you of energy, even if you aren’t supposed to feel that way. Example: If your mother drains you of energy every time you visit her, do what you must and mark her with red. Be honest to yourself.

You should now have four lists with a red or green mark for every item.

Estimate the time, energy and money you put into things you don’t really give a f*ck about.

When you have marked every item on the list with either green or red, it’s time to make an estimate of how much energy, money and time you spend on them. Sort the red ones out first, and start to estimate how much time, money and energy you will save if you stop giving a f*ck about them.

With time you can just count the amount of minutes and hours.
The same goes with money. Just estimate how much money you spend hanging out with that energy vampire of a friend that you have, for example.

Energy is trickier. You have to come upp with a system that will work for you. For example, you can put a scale from 1 to 4, 1 being almost no energy spent and 4 being totally drained. You can also make up a color key to code how much energy you spend on a certain item. For example: red-orange-yellow -green.

Now mark every item on the list with the time/money/energy that you will “save” when you stop giving a f*ck about them.

Example: I hate to make phone calls. But sometimes that’s an inevitable part of my job. Writing e-mails on the other hand is something I find quite fun, and I don’t think that is as energy draining as making a phone call. but it does take some energy from me, so I put a 1 on the e-mail and a 4 on the phone call on my list of work items. If I manage to write an e-mail instead of making that call, I will “save” three points. So these goes in my budget.

The result

You now have a budget that you can pull out every time you feel it in your guts that you don’t want to accept that wedding invitation, go see someone else’s kids or make that phone call.

You can soon start to see that you will save a lot of time, energy and money just by not giving a f*ck about the things you don’t care about.

It’s hard in some cases. In the cases you can’t let go completely, you can always see if there is some energy left in your budget to do those things even if they drain you of energy. And I can assure you that your mom will be happy if you decide to visit her once a month instead of once a week, but being happy during the whole visit.

I highly recommend you to watch Sarah Knight’s hilarious Ted talk.

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