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There are many different kinds of things that require adaptive energy. Any kind of thought or activity that requires our attention uses some adaptive energy. Unique tasks that feel difficult while we are doing them are using that specific kind of mental energy and also use some general adaptive energy. When we encounter something new and we must adapt to it, especially if it is threatening in some way, that requires a lot of energy.

During a given period of wakefulness, there is a limited supply of this energy. After a period of time, when we become tired of being awake, there is a signal from our brain and body telling us that we have used up our general energies and need to rest.

There are specific adaptive energies that are used up much more quickly. For most of us, doing mathematical calculations uses that form of adaptive energy quickly. Gardening uses up that kind of energy much more slowly for most people, and we can putter at that for hours without much strain.

It is when we are required to do things that we don’t like to do, but are compelled by the situation, that our energies get used the most quickly. Therefore, when you know you are going to be confronted by a difficult task, begin with a minute of relaxation and then dive into the difficult parts and finish them with focused energy. Remember that you can not maintain this kind of focus for very long and must complete the task quickly before your adaptive energy is used up. For some difficult things, even a few minutes will be a limit. So before you get started, set out a plan to do those kinds of tasks to some pre-chosen level of completion and stop, and then be prepared to do something else that uses a totally different set of skills.

We can organize our lives to make difficult things routine, so they can be more easily completed and ignored.