Head Space – the invisible energy drainer

Head space and energyI never really understood the definition of ‘headspace’. Not really. I mean, I kind of got it, but to be honest, I found myself getting a bit impatient with people who claimed ‘I don’t have the headspace for this at the moment’. As a coach and a strong believer of anyone’s ability to change their state at any time, I found it a bit weak. I prided myself (just quietly mind you) on my ability to move seamlessly from one thing to another, probably doing multiple things at once, and generally being awesome.

Until I ran out.

I was coaching clients, running a fantastic project under contract, and writing my book. And managing it pretty well – until I saw that the book’s word count wasn’t exactly climbing at a rapid rate, and I found myself doing low value tasks rather than knuckling down to my planned writing. I was struggling but didn’t realise it. Then suddenly my project was put on hold. After tying up loose ends, I went home on the Friday with no knowledge of what I would be starting with on Monday. I knew I would remain at the client as they had retained me for six months, and I knew there was work to do. I just didn’t know what.

I had planned to spend Saturday relaxing, reading and decompressing from the week – a pretty regular occurrence for me most Saturdays as the project I had been running was pretty full on. I welcomed the opportunity to read a fiction book, drink tea and generally relax before putting some time in on my book and blog on the Sunday.

When something strange happened.

After breakfast I got out my laptop because I had a few ideas in my head I wanted to capture. Before I knew it, I had been writing for three hours. I don’t know where it all came from. The words came easily and effortlessly. All the jumbled thoughts that had been knocking around in my head made their way onto the page. I had been unable to dedicate this amount of time and energy to my book for a long time. What was the difference? The only thing that had changed was my project stopping. The thing is, I had not been spending time on my project on the weekends. If something came up in my thinking I would make a note and move on with my weekend. I may have chatted about bits and pieces with my husband, but I had not been spending actual time. What I had been spending on it, without realising, was energy. Energy quietly leaking out of my head without me noticing.

I always thought I had a good handle on what I was expending my energy on, not realising that the energy my unconscious had been expending without my knowledge, was draining my supply.

Your Thoughts become Things

Numerous writers have said this, and it’s so very very true. The reason why many people do not believe it is they are not actually noticing their thoughts. Their real thoughts. While they might be wishing and hoping for that pay rise, their REAL thoughts are more along the lines of “I’m not good enough for that pay rise… My boss doesn’t acknowledge the work I do…” etc. So their thoughts ARE becoming things. Just not the things they want. I thought I was thinking about how much I wanted to write, but really, my thoughts were being distracted by the complexities of my project. Because once those complexities were taken away, I stopped thinking about them and was able to focus on my book.

The solution is not to quit your job or your project, the solution is to examine your thoughts and ask: “What am I REALLY thinking about right now?” Think about the things that are going on in your life and ask yourself honestly:

  • Am I being distracted by a niggling problem I have not solved?
  • Am I thinking about something that happened last week that I have not understood or resolved?


  • What do I need to DO right now that could solve or resolve what is distracting me?
  • What do I need to believe right now in order to do what I know I really need to do ?

My lesson: it’s not head space. It’s energy. Know your thoughts, and you know how you are spending your energy. Change your thoughts and change the way your energy is being spent. That’s what I did – admittedly unknowingly. Next time, it will be intentional…



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About Emma Sharrock

Emma is the author of The Agile Project Manager: Thrive in Change with Agile. An experienced change leader, Emma is passionate about working with people to facilitate successful change. Emma utilises Agile techniques, coupled with the Agile mindset to coach leaders and teams to achieve their business goals.