How to Boost Your Energy Levels – Without Caffeine, Sugar, or Extra Sleep

by Shana Montesol Johnson

Would you like to have more energy? One way to do this – without drinking extra coffee, eating a bunch of sweets, or sleeping ‘til noon – is to get rid of all the “stuff” you’re putting up with.

We actually tolerate a lot, sometimes without realizing it.  The late Thomas Leonard, a pioneer in the field of life coaching, called these things “tolerations,” and pointed out that they drain us of energy.


Tolerations can be:

  • Things we dislike
  • Tasks we’ve been meaning to do and haven’t yet completed
  • Our own bad habits
  • The way we let others treat us

When we eliminate tolerations, we experience a surge in energy – be it physical, mental, or emotional.

What are you putting up with in your work and career? Maybe it’s an uncomfortable desk chair, your boss’s rude comments, the squeaky air-conditioner in your office.  (Or in my husband’s case, a rooster that crows outside his office window at all hours of the day.  Mind you, he works in Metro Manila, a megacity of 11.5 million – not exactly a rural area.)  Whenever you sit down in that chair, are subjected to your boss’s rude comments, or turn on that squeaky old  A/C, it saps a bit of your energy, leaving less for the stuff that really matters.

Taken individually, these tolerations may seem trivial, but add them all together, and they rob us of energy and vitality.

How can we plug these energy drains and get an infusion of greater physical, mental, and emotional energy?

  1. Write down all the stuff you are putting up with. You can think through the following categories to get your thoughts flowing: job, career, money, your car, your office, your home, family, friends, your habits, your partner or spouse’s habits, your health.  Just listing the things you are tolerating can be helpful, as you bring them into awareness.  Don’t be alarmed if the list is long – most people have anywhere from 60-100 things they are tolerating.
  2. Put a star next to the things you have control over and have the ability to eliminate.  For now, don’t worry about the other ones – the fact that they are on your list is a step in the right direction.  You may find that over time, some of these resolve on their own.
  3. Do the easy ones first. If there are any starred items on your list that require 15 minutes or less to do, take care of one or two of those first.  For example, return that phone call you’ve been putting off, file those papers cluttering up your desk, change that burned-out light bulb (yeah, it’s not in your job description, but it’s been driving you crazy!).  You’ll probably find that the bits of energy you gain from accomplishing these small tasks will help you with the bigger ones.
  4. Make a plan to work through the starred items on your list. Commit to taking care of these items.  Brainstorm the action steps you’ll need to take, schedule time on your calendar to do them, and partner up with someone to hold you accountable for getting this done.

It can be helpful to schedule times to review your list regularly, to reflect on what new things you may be tolerating and see what else you can cross off the list.  This could be once a month, once every 3 months, every year on your birthday…

You may be thinking, “I don’t have the time to do this – I’ve got a million things to do, I can’t just sit back and write up a list of tolerations!”  What we may not realize is that we are already paying the price of putting up with tolerations – in terms of decreased energy levels.  If you’re busy and overwhelmed, taking care of these tolerations can actually help you make progress toward your goals, because it gives you more energy to tackle those important tasks.

The more tolerations you get rid of, the more energy you will have – to do the big things you’ve been wanting to do, make the changes you’ve been dreaming about, or to simply kick back and enjoy life more.

What are some of the things you’ve been putting up with?  Care to commit publicly to eliminating these tolerations?  Any suggestions for my husband on how to deal with a noisy rooster (that won’t get him arrested)? Please share in the Comments below.

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Photo by Walraven

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }


Thank you for this informative post, Shana! I am always looking for ways to increase my energy reserves, and this is right on. I find that being “proactive” in nature, tackling the little tasks as aggressively as the big ones, actually reduces the amount of time and energy I spend on “tasks” over all. Love your blog! K.



Kristen, thanks so much for the comment. I’m glad you found the post informative. Knowing what I do about all the incredible things you are up to, I can see that you need a lot of energy! You are one of the most organized, can-do, action-oriented people I’ve had the pleasure of working with — I know you are managing your energy exceedingly well!


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