Managing my Energy: Waves--Not Spoons

Managing my Energy: Waves--Not Spoons

Many of you are probably familiar with "The Spoon Theory" as was coined by Christine Miserandino in 2003 essay entitled "The Spoon Theory".

The basic premise of the analogy is that we all have a limited amount of energy available to us each day and that this energy can be represented by a number of spoons. As you use up your energy, you loose a spoon. And when your spoons are all gone, you're done for the day.

Personally, I don't like the spoons analogy for at least three reasons. First, it's an over simplistic analogy for a complex issue. Second, it assumes that we only have a fixed amount of energy available to us. And, third, it assumes that our daily activities are, by definition, 'draining', essentially sucking the life out of us.

In my experience, a far better analogy for our energy is waves.

Just as our energy level ebbs and flows, waves have highs and lows. The bigger the project, the more we are likely to need to rest to regain our energy for the next project.


If we have a series of smaller tasks or projects, we are far more likely to require smaller periods of rest between tasks.

Unlike the "spoons" analogy which implies a fixed amount of available energy, our wave metaphor does not imply a set limit on our available energy for the day (or any fixed period of period).  

In addition, our wave analogy provides some insight into how we might proactively manage our available  energy.

As we see in our wave picture, higher energy activities (waves) will likely require deeper or longer periods of low energy to recover or recharge our energy level.

Conversely, smaller or lower energy activities (waves) will necessitate less deep or shorter periods to recharge our energy level.

As many of us are called upon to explain our abilities or our limitations, perhaps our "Waves--Not Spoons" will help bridge the gap to understanding.

  • Tags: chronic fatique, low engery, lupus, social energy, The Spoon Theory

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