You can go full throttle and never burn out

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Daniel Day Lewis made history as the first person to win three Academy Awards for Best Actor. He won for “Lincoln” (2013), “There Will Be Blood” (2007), and “My Left Foot” (1989).

According to Steven Spielberg, Daniel Day Lewis acts using a method in which he never breaks character on the set. His roles become all-consuming. He goes full throttle into every part that he plays — one of the main reasons for his immense success in the dramatic arts.

Unfortunately for the movie industry, Lewis announced he is taking a break for a few years. He called it “a lie down.” He alluded to the notion that he was burnt out from his current job.

Many people are like Lewis. They go full throttle at work. Their jobs are all-consuming. It is non-stop from one day to the next.

Unlike Lewis, most of us are not multi-millionaires who can leave our careers for years at a time to “lie down.” Instead, we must figure out ways to go full throttle without burning out.

The secret to going full throttle is to harness your rhythms. Our bodies have natural internal energy rhythms. You can feel it: Place two fingers on your neck and get your pulse. This is the rhythm of life. Once you tap into your energy cycles at the right time, you will maximize productivity and prevent burnout.

Achieve “Full Throttle” with these three easy steps: Step 1: Become aware of the rise and fall of your natural energy levels.

Does your energy soar in the morning? Take a skid after lunch? Get a second wind in the afternoon?

Most individuals will have a few peaks and valleys throughout the day, but everyone is unique. Knowing when your energy soars and when it droops is the first step in going full throttle without burning out.

Step 2: Create an energy to-do list.

Most successful individuals create to-do lists Here is a twist — designate activities on your to-do list with three different levels of needed energy: high, moderate and low. Meeting with a disgruntled client may take immense energy, whereas sending out emails takes much less energy.

Step 3: Create an energy plan to match tasks to your energy levels.

More specifically, place the most demanding tasks at times when your energy is soaring. Position moderate energy tasks for times when your energy begins to slide, and low energy tasks when you have bottomed out.

I like to write when my energy peaks in the morning. I have another peak around 2 p.m., and I teach classes then. This matching system has allowed me to be very productive at the right times during the day.

On the flip side, if I did high-energy tasks when I had naturally low energy, I would be forcing my creativity. This would make me less effective,. It would also zap my energy and increase my chances of burnout.

Energy rhythms are all around us – the ebb and flow of tides, the migration of birds, the moon orbiting the earth, and the earth orbiting the sun. There is a rhythm to the universe. Once you capture those rhythms in your life, you can go full-throttle without burning out.

Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a professor of human performance at Austin Peay State University. The author of the Washington Post bestselling book, “Full Throttle,” he coaches business executives and professional athletes on their mental game. Email or

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