Finding (and Leveraging) Your Leading Energy Drivers + Drainers


“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”

I can’t remember the first time I heard this quote, but every time I hear it, it hits me like a proverbial ton of bricks. Why? Because it’s painfully accurate.

And yet, as small business owners, there’s probably another line we’d add: “Just because we shouldn’t, doesn’t mean we don’t.”

Because let’s be honest: all entrepreneurs and small business owners suffer, at some point or another, from something I like to call, “The Small Business Owner’s Paradox.” We start our own businesses for a myriad of reasons–we don’t feel like we fit into the corporate world, we want more autonomy over our time and earning potential, we have a great idea that we just have to get to market. But what that often means is that we trick ourselves: we think that because we chose this path, we have to like–and perform–every single one of the tasks that keep us in business.

You don’t like managing your email inbox? Sorry, lady – but that’s just part of the job. You don’t like scheduling meetings, or writing proposals? What did you think this was going to be, anyway?

(That’s a conversation I literally had with myself a few years ago, by the way.)

But here’s the reality: you don’t, in fact, have to do everything in your business in order for it to be successful. Even if you can. I’d argue that continuing to do all the things–especially the tasks that drain you of your precious energy–can keep you from making time for the things that truly move your business forward, and help you feel like you’re living your definition of personal success.

But how do you even start to identify your leading energy drivers–and drainers? And once you’ve identified them, how can you make a plan to do things differently?

I got you. Keep reading.

Identifying your LEDS

In our Accelerator program, LED’s get their own section. Identifying them starts simply enough–write down everything that you do in your business. Here, we’re looking for everything–from all of the work you do daily for clients, to all of the behind-the-scenes work on the business. Write these things down as quick bullet points, or tasks.

Flip your piece of paper over (yep, we’re going old school!) and write down two columns: “Leading Energy Drivers” and “Leading Energy Drainers.” Using the list of tasks you just wrote down, put each task into one of these columns based on these criteria:

Leading Energy Drivers: My friend and fellow small business owner Mel calls these the “tummy tickle” tasks–the stuff you do in your day-to-day that gets you so jazzed that your stomach literally starts to flip flop a little. When you’re doing these things, you’re 100% in your element. You feel engaged, confident, and most of all: unstoppable.

Leading Energy Drainers: These are the tasks that are the exact opposite. They’re the ones you procrastinate on because while you know they need to happen, they’re just NOT in your Zone of Genius. The ones that make you feel frustrated and impatient because you have to spend time on them in the first place. These tasks are exactly how they sound: draining. Doing them feels like a slog.

Now, I know this isn’t an exact science. There might be some tasks that don’t fit in one column or the other, and that’s okay. The goal is to get a clear understanding of your top drainers and drivers so we have a starting point for change.

In one of our recent workshops, this was one of our participants’ lists:

Leading Energy Drivers

  • Interviewing subject matter experts
  • Writing compelling and engaging content
  • Brainstorming meetings with clients
  • Creating content marketing strategies
  • Networking with other small business owners
  • Making time to write for myself

Leading Energy Drainers

  • Developing and sending proposals
  • Scheduling social media
  • Transcribing notes
  • Scheduling meetings
  • Managing my inbox
  • Sending invoices
  • Anything having to do with spreadsheets
  • Trying to make all of my tech and platforms work together

Shifting the drainers

After you’ve divided your list, ask yourself: what would it look like to not have to do the things that drain your energy? What would you be able to accomplish instead?

Think BIG here. Maybe it’s that you’d have room in your schedule for your dream client. Maybe you’d take Fridays off. Maybe you’d use the time to create and launch the course or podcast or nonprofit on the side that you’ve always wanted to build.

Next, think about what that’s worth to you. For example, in the list below, our workshop participant estimated she was wasting at least 12 hours a week of her time doing things that didn’t light her up. In a month, that was nearly 50 hours–or nearly $6,500 worth of her time.

Your options: Delegate, streamline, or “processize”

Now, here’s where the magic can happen: what needs to change in order for you to shed those energy drivers?

Can you delegate the work to someone else? If you can, what’s the total cost for you to delegate this work? And, what’s the total cost of NOT delegating the work?

Can you streamline or omit these tasks entirely?

Can you create a process that might take some work on the front end, but could free up your time in the future?

To continue with our participant example, she had recently connected with an executive assistant that she could delegate 80% of what was on her “drainers” list. The total cost? $1500 a month instead of $6500.

She also realized that by simply researching other transcription options for interviews and thought leader notes, she could switch to a different platform that would not only record interviews for her, but produce transcripts at the same time. That streamlined the process, saving her additional hours of time.

And, by switching to a different client workflow, she created an automated process for sending out proposals and invoices that her executive assistant could also handle. Another several hours of time per month saved.

Strengthening our drivers > strengthening our drainers

When it comes to entrepreneurship, strengthening our strengths is what we need to spend our time on. Because I’ll say it again: just because you can do everything doesn’t mean you should.