Start Thinking Energy Not Time Management
Time Management. The age-old dilemma that most of us struggle with. But why do some people achieve so much more than others? Why do some people seem to have all of the time in the world to get things done whilst others constantly seem to be frazzled? How can some people win new clients every month, service existing clients amazingly, manage sales teams, become industry go-to experts, deliver awesome lectures, write books, climb mountains, run marathons, take part in fabulous social activities and live the lives of their dreams?
And yet others struggle to remove themselves from firefighting, admin and dealing with challenges and spend their mornings, noons and evenings glued to their email?
It’s an important question. It might be one of the most important.
Ultimately, you will be defined by what you do and by what you achieve not by how busy you are.
Being busy is not the same as being successful. Working hard is not the same as working smart. Putting the hours in is pointless if you’re working on the wrong activities.
“Getting things done” is sometimes not the same as achieving your objectives. Being busy is not the same as being successful. Working hard is not the same as working smart. Putting the hours in is pointless if you’re working on the wrong activities.
Time doesn’t have to control you, we all have the same hours in the day as Beyonce, so how does she achieve so much? Have we been looking at time management all wrong? Should we be looking at energy management instead. Over the last six months the team has been working with Anna at Best of Toda, a workplace wellness programme which we highly recommend you look into, but I digress. One of the things which really stuck with me was we need to think about energy management as opposed to time management, “our wellbeing is enhanced by managing our energy and not necessarily about managing our time”.
“The number of hours in a day is fixed, but the quantity and quality of energy available to us is not,” say Tony Schwartz and Jim Loehr in The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal. Their message: Rather than treating our life and businesses as a marathon, Schwartz advises we treat them as sprints and recovery (recovery being key here!).
If you typically manage your time—say, by creating to-do lists, prioritising tasks, and scheduling dedicated time for each of those activities—you know how easy it is to get derailed in the course of an ordinary business day. A single email or conversation can break your focus or completely rearrange your priorities.
By managing your energy, you can bring your best performance to whatever activity that comes up, whether it’s being 100% present in conversations, contributing creative ideas in a meeting, or fully focusing on a critical task. You can achieve results that are far superior to the incremental gains you might get from time management techniques.
We all know we are going to have big sprints at times - that's what makes pursuing a project or business so exciting. But it's imperative that we build in equal parts recovery.
But how, exactly, do you manage your energy? Start with these five tips.
Schedule it. No matter whether or not you think you need a break, schedule fun or relaxation activities in advance and stick to them.
- Double the break you think you need. I know how this goes, "Sure, I'll take a break -- I'll give myself a whole hour off!" Not good enough. Whatever the break you think you need, double it. You are most likely underestimating the toll that all of your hard work is taking on your body and mind -- even if you're having fun.
- Enlist family and friends. If you schedule a weekend get-away with family or friends, you'll have no excuse but to unplug. Family and friends can be great accountability buddies for taking the breaks you need.
- Make a list of the benefits of R&R, and brainstorm your favorite rejuvenation activities. I know that even after reluctantly taking a break, I will come back refreshed, more cheerful and more creative -- which puts me in an even better position to do my best work once I'm back at it. Making a list of the benefits will help motivate and remind you to actually take the breaks you've set-up. At a loss for what to do? Make a list of any/all activities that bring you joy or relaxation. For me that's reading, yoga, a glass of wine (with chocolate) and watching a few shows on Netflix.
- Break down your biggest goals into achievable, measurable chunks and reward yourself often! For every day that you make a massive to-do list, add a "reward" item at the end that brings you joy. Maybe it's reading a book, a gossip magazine, or going out to dinner with a friend. For many of us, we only take breaks or celebrate when we hit the BIG goals -- but those can take months to achieve. Instead, break them down into smaller parts and reward yourself for all of the smaller milestones you hit along the way.
Working through the above steps will give you a good perspective on how managing your energy works best for you and get you on track for success. We hope it will help you maximise your productivity and assist you with goal setting. We wrote a blog on time management, which had some great tips, check that out if you still can’t get your head around energy management.
If you are still feeling overwhelmed and need help prioritising, or just someone to ease the workload so you can have more of your life back, we can help – it’s what we do. Connect to discuss taking back your energy so you have time for what really counts.