Energy Management Is The New Time Management
You must have heard often "There isn't enough time in the day," "I have too many things to accomplish," "How do I prioritize what needs to be done?" or “If I had just a couple more hours in each day and one less meeting, I would have been more productive.”
This idea of becoming an uber-productive person with your "spare time" may be doing more harm than good to your mind, leaving you feeling more pressured and under-accomplished.
Our world has changed into a 24/7 non-stop action-packed must-do kind of place in a relatively short period. Our culture encourages people to do more with less.
How can we master our time if we constantly fill the gaps with more tasks? This perspective means that we never complete all of our tasks, which can lead to a lot of stress over time.
I know that my never-ending "to-do list" was never completed. There was never a chance to celebrate the finish since it just kept going longer and longer. It caused me a great deal of stress, so I had to work harder and longer to attempt to keep up with the never-ending tasks. In the long term, this is not a healthy option.
The pressure and commitment of always being "on" produces an endless loop of tasks. The more we do, the more we have to do. We understand that time is a constant, but we continue to pile on tasks. Is this constructive, or is it an illusion? Is all of this hustling paying off?
What if we reframed our days (time) as energy management rather than time management?
Consider changing your perspective on productivity so that it is directed by your energy levels instead. Our bodies and minds operate on varying degrees of energy. Make the most of those opportunities to produce outstanding work.
We begin to get more done and experience less stress and overload when we begin to plan our time around energy. We can improve our performance by identifying our energy peaks and valleys.
In his book 'The Power of Full Engagement', performance psychologist Jim Loehr mentioned four sources of energy that influence our productivity:
1. Physical Energy
We are up to three times more likely to be effectively engaged in our work when our energy levels are high. Still, most of us participate in energy-draining habits such as sitting too long at our workplaces and binge-watching TV series instead of going to bed at a proper time. Establishing better daily habits, such as small walks and nutritious snacks, to maintain a consistent level of physical energy can make a huge impact and reduce your reliance on the "high" of sugar or caffeine to get you through the day.
2. Emotional Energy
We spend a lot of time in our minds going over old events or worrying about the future. According to research, while a wandering mind might aid in innovative problem-solving, it can also make us miserable and dramatically reduce performance because stress and regret deplete our energy. Instead, work on silencing that negative inner voice and gently reminding yourself of things that have gone well, such as meeting a project deadline or giving a great presentation.
3. Mental Energy
According to a 2015 Microsoft study, our attention span has decreased with time and is presently at eight seconds, one second less than that of the goldfish. Technology has improved our ability to multitask, but it has also hampered our ability to focus intensely on one activity at a time. To retain valuable mental energy, it's vital to identify intervals to disconnect from digital distractions, stop scrolling, and just focus on the subject at hand.
4. Spiritual Power
Spiritual energy is often neglected since it is the least known and most subjective to harness. Spiritual energy is derived from whatever nourishes your spirit. It could be nurtured through religious practice, good reading, peaceful meditation, a nature walk, playing with a child or pet, or through a creative pursuit such as art, dancing, or music. According to research, when productivity begins to fall, replenishing our spiritual energy can improve cognition.
I learned one effective method by tracking my high and low energy levels over a few weeks. According to various studies, our energy levels fluctuate throughout the day, usually every 90 to 120 minutes. Over time, I became aware of my best time for decision-making and learning, as well as times when my capacity was low.
I discovered that my energy low point is between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Knowing this, I can plan my day so that the difficult, complex tasks are completed outside of those hours, leaving time for lighter pursuits. I made it a practice to do something that recharges my body and mind between these hours, such as exercise, being outside, reading or listening to music.
Going against the grain can be difficult, which is one of the reasons why many individuals struggle to break free from traditional ways of working and living. It necessitates creativity, a willingness to experiment, and perhaps even altering some of the ways in which we function. It won't be so surprising if more of us start reclaiming our schedules — and our energies.
In the words of Peter Voogd, “It’s not about time management. It’s about energy management. That is everything.”