Energy and Not Just Time Management for Productivity

What is the difference between time and energy management?

Time management focuses on how you utilise time.  Time is a finite resource and therefore one of the most precious resources that we have.  Due to its finite nature, it can either be used well or wasted, just as easily, because as the saying goes, time waits for no man.  Once it gone, its gone.  As I have grown older, this is becoming more evident every day.  One of the least exciting things about getting old is that time is not on your side.  In fact, neither is gravity 😊 

You manage time by scheduling it during the course of the day.  You allocate time to get work done.  You can allocate it for meetings, discussions, writing proposals, analysing data and the list goes on.  You allocate time for not just work but also all the other things that you want to get done during the course of the day.  It could be to exercise, catch up with friends, time with your family and the list of activities can seem endless.  No matter how long the list, time is of course the same for all of us.  No more and no less.

What is energy management?

Energy management focuses on when is the best time during the day that you are at your best energy level to perform specific types of work.  Energy unlike time is a variable and potentially infinite resource.  It is variable because you are able to deplete or drain it but you are also able to recharge it or power it up again.  This in turn gives you a potentially infinite resource to manage and utilise.  Energy management involves knowing what your energy level is through the day.  Just like the circadian rhythm, our energy flow during the day will vary between productive and rest periods.  Knowing what and when your energy peaks and ebbs is crucial in deciding what type of work is more productively and efficiently fits.

Your productivity level is dependent not just on the time but more so on your energy level as it is your energy level that will determine the outcome or output.  Time is just a function that you block out to get work done.  To get the work done, it is your energy that allows for work to be performed.

There are different workstyles and broadly some categories for example, the generic term of morning or night person.  A morning person will be the one that is up early the morning, works best in the morning and is what the work world expects.  A night person is alive and most productivity in the evening, finds it difficult to get up and going in the morning.

Energy management dictates that you do the most suitable type of work depending on when your energy level is at its best for that specific type of work.  For most of us, our work revolves around a set category of work namely:

1.  Thinking type work.  These include analytical or problem-solving which decisions needs to be made based on analysis of the information at hand, brainstorming ideas and so on.

2.  Physical work.  This includes the physically moving about, creating something with your hands, exerting physical strength and so on.

3.  Creative work.  This includes painting, creating designs, artistic work and so on.

Therefore perform work that is best suited to your energy levels. For example, the tough or complex work should be performed when your energy level is at its high point. You will find that when your energy level is high, you will be able to give difficult task the focus and attention that it requires. When your energy level is low, it is extremely difficult to concentrate and give the very same task the proper attention that it needs. The output or outcome will be impacts as a result.

Depending on the type of work, the energy levels will correspond.  For example, if your energy level is low you are not going to be good any type of work because mentally, creatively and physically you are tired.  To get work done, will be a hard uphill battle.  So what do we do when we are felling sluggish, we reach out for the widely use “drug” called caffeine to give us that jolt of energy that we need to get our energy level up and then we are able to do some work.

However, no matter how effective caffeine may be, there is more to energy management than just take a stimulant.  Caffeine is certainly part of the arsenal that we use, some more than others.

What are the energy management techniques?

  1. Know your energy level cycle throughout the day.  We all have productive and rest intervals during the course of the day.  For example, a morning person will usually be most focused and mentally charged to get going in the morning or first half of the day.  Therefore for this type of person, it is the best time to do “thinking” type work.
  2. Know your energy buckets.  Be aware of your energy buckets.  When you break down the energy levels that we have, it can be roughly broken down to 4 buckets namely physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.  These 4 energy buckets enables you to not only perform or do what you have to do but also gives you the ability to perform certain functions more effectively and productively when you are able to managed them appropriately.
  3. Know your energy powerbanks and vampires.  Be aware of what drains your energy and what recharges or energises you.  Just like any device that is run on battery, if you do not plug it into the power source, the device will not be able to run once the battery runs out.  The same goes for you.  If you are overdrawing one of more of the 4 energy buckets, you will run dry.  This is the most common reason for burned out.
  4. Charge throughout the day.  Schedule time during the day to charge or energise the energy buckets.  It does not require anything special just a set time to quickly power-up.  For example, during lunch, listen to music or read a book or go for a walk.  Any activity that suits your energy bucket and that is able to charge it up.

What works for you?

In order to know what works for you, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Am I a morning or evening person?
  2. What part of the day am I most energised to do “thinking” or “creative” work?
  3. What time of the day do I get the most work done and what type of work?
  4. What type of activities drains my mental or emotional energy?
  5. What type of activities energises me?
  6. How can I avoid or minimise activities that drains me?
  7. How can I get to do more activities that energises me?
  8. What can I do to include more activities that energises me?

Let’s also be realistic that there is no role or work that will give you 100% enjoy 100% of the time.  We have parts of our role that we don’t enjoy as much and aspects of our roles that drains us.  For example, I find meetings to be one of the most draining activities I have to do. However, it has to be done and there is no one that I can delegate it to.  Recognising that and then it is not to avoid what drains you, but it is to then find activities that is able to recharge you to balance it out.  For example, I love to analyse numbers, yes as strange as that may sound, I love looking at numbers and it recharges me mentally.  One of my secret is to have meetings that have to do with analysing numbers, so instead of having meetings that just drains me, this is a great meeting that energises me😊 Ok, I am just kidding. But I think you know what I am saying.

In summary, time management is one part of the productivity equation. Energy management plays a much bigger role in our productivity that we realise. In fact, I would suggest that energy management should play a much bigger part when you think and plan your day and how you are able to schedule the appropriate type of work during the day.

Check out the lisalamcoach podcast as another option to consume my content.

Thank you for taking the time to read to my article.  I hope that you have learned at least one thing that you are able to apply into your everyday life.   As always, please subscribe, follow and share this artcile with your friends.  Take care and step into the everyday with purpose. 


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