Personal time management is a familiar idea, but you’ll find it much more effective to manage your energy not your time.
Personal energy is the greatest resource we have available to us. Learn to increase and focus your personal energy for enhanced performance at work, and in life!
Energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance. Jim Loehr
Perhaps you’re too drained to meet all your commitments at work, exhausted by the middle of the afternoon with a long list of ‘to do’s‘ in front of you.
Or perhaps you’re too tired at the weekend to enjoy time with your family.
Managing your energy not your time is the path to achieving better outcomes.
Managing the four dimensions of energy
The first step is to raise your awareness of the different dimensions of energy. This awareness will trigger interest, and action. You’ll soon find that managing your energy, not your time, is a natural focus for you.
Each dimension of energy has a core quality. Understanding this core quality is essential in order to develop effective strategies for boosting and focusing your energy.
The core quality of physical energy is endurance. Think of physical energy as an engine: eat, sleep, action, eat, sleep, action, eat, sleep, action. Increased physical energy boosts your ability to take action (whatever that action may be!).
Physical energy is also the foundation. Without it, building the ‘higher’ levels of energy is much harder.
The second level of personal energy management is emotional energy. The core quality of emotional energy is it’s nature: either negative or positive.
Positive emotional energy and we feel engaged, enthused, and committed. Negative emotional energy and we feel drained, depressed and burnt out.
Mental energy is all about focus. The ability to focus and stay ‘in the flow’ of an activity for longer periods of time. Growth mindset helps as it cultivates the beliefs that underpin commitment.
Spiritual energy is all about clarity of purpose. It’s enhanced when your values and beliefs are aligned with ‘purpose-full’ intent. To get started, ask yourself, how do you want to be remembered?
Boosting your spiritual energy provides a ‘top down’ approach to personal energy management by engaging the mind, rather than the body.
The most fundamental source of energy is physical; the most significant is spiritual.
Here’s more on the four dimensions of energy.
Manage your energy not your time
To manage your energy and not your time look at all 4 dimensions of energy, identifying the best opportunities for improvement, and putting in place an action plan to adjust your life: increasing and focusing your energy more effectively.
Energy Management, not time management
This is a ‘top, down’ plan because you can’t expect to make significant changes to your life unless you know why. Your ‘why’ is your purpose. It drives engagement, guides your energy investments and ignites motivation.
A plan without a purpose is just a list of New Year’s resolutions that will be forgotten in a few days.
A plan with a purpose is sustainable.
Start with your spiritual energy
What is your purpose? Very few people stop and reflect on this question. As a result, it becomes easy to drift through life, knocked backwards and forwards by day-to-day pressures, without any clarity of direction.
Here are a few questions that will guide your thinking:
- What matters most to you, really?
- What makes your life worth living?
- How would you want to be described, after you’re gone?
- What impact do you want to have on other people’s lives?
Distill down all your thoughts into a short and simple purpose statement. This may take some time, and continued reflection. Start by writing something down, then refining it based on the questions above.
You’ll know you’ve got it right if you feel excited about what you’ve written, you find it motivating, and it’s specific enough to guide your decision-making.
Mental energy management
Once you have your purpose in place, you can think about aligning your lower levels of energy with that purpose.
To increase your mental focus, consider what actions will benefit you most:
- Identify opportunities to reduce multi-tasking at work, and in life
- Incorporate self-reflection into your daily life
- Get into the habit of writing a journal
- Use visualization or mental rehearsals to focus in advance of an activity
- Practice mindfulness
Don’t over-engineer the plan. Identify one or two strategies that you can adopt that you can make an impact. Once these behaviors are established, consider incorporating new strategies to continue to make progress.
Emotional energy management
To increase your emotional energy levels, consider what actions will benefit you most:
- Gratitude exercises
- Conscious acts of kindness
- Positive self-talk
- Breathing exercises
- Listening to music
- A quiet, reflective walk
Again, don’t over engineer. Pick one or two activities that you feel you can incorporate into your daily life without too requiring too much time or investment.
Physical energy management
Everyone has an opinion about physical energy management: the best way to exercise, the best way to eat, the best way to rest.
However, there are some fundamentals, which are difficult to dispute:
- Movement through-out the day is beneficial. Find opportunities to move every 60-90 minutes.
- Exercise can increase your energy. Consider your flexibility, aerobic capacity, and core strength, and work to safely increase them.
- Match your calorie intake to your energy needs. Balance your calories and your activity.
- Drink more water. Aim to reduce soft drinks, tea, coffee, alcohol. And drink more water.
Same thing. Pick one or two activities that best address your physical energy needs.
Energy management: creating the plan
If you have followed the steps above, you have a clear purpose and one or two activities in each of the energy dimensions: mental, emotional, physical.
To create a plan:
- Write down your purpose again, rewriting it will establish it as a ‘truth’ in your mind
- Schedule a regular time to revisit and reflect on your purpose
- Set a maximum of one or two activities to implement immediately
- Plan their implementation in detail: when will you take the action, who can help keep you accountable, how will you know you’ve succeeded
- Spend 90 days establishing the new behaviors as habits
- Move on to the next activities… and repeat
Aligning your life with a clearly defined purpose, and managing your energy, is not easy. It takes a lifetime.
The first step is to recognize that managing your energy not your time is the path to progress.
Make small changes to how you manage your energy, evaluate your progress over months and years. You will see the benefit!