Don't Manage Your Time. Manage Your EnergyApr 05, 2022
If you’re looking to transform your productivity, then it’s time to quit focusing on time management strategies. If you find yourself struggling to get as much done as you want, putting things off, getting distracted, and not making the meaningful progress you want towards your business and personal goals - then it’s time to shift your focus from time management to energy management. Don’t try to maximize efficiency of every minute of your day before maximizing the quality you're showing up for. You can have the perfect schedule, but if you’re not peaking at the right times to match the task, it doesn’t matter.
I ran into this realization from years of never getting as much done as I thought I was capable of. I had researched all the time management and productivity strategies out there - yet day after day would go by leaving me feeling like I underperformed and didn’t accomplish true meaningful progress towards my goals. All this shifted when I worried less about how to fit more into my day and focused more on how to get more high energy hours into my day. By focusing on managing my energy, and not my schedule, I started to get more done in a day than I was in a week before that. And when the coaching clients I was working with started to implement the same strategies they found themselves making progress in their business, productivity, and personal lives like never before.
Here’s how to start managing your energy for more productivity, focus, and results in your business, work, and personal life:
Identify how to improve energy
Before you can focus on managing your energy, you need to first know what habits and disciplines are key to make sure you’re showing up as the best version of you that you can. This is going to vary widely person to person - but here’s some examples and categories to take inventory of:
- Sleep: This is arguably the most important part of showing up with high energy. Throw away the false stories that sleep is for the weak or that you have to be up earlier and later than the competition to avoid getting outworked. This mindset will lead to long days of suboptimal performance. Prioritize your sleep for a ton of reasons.
- Nutrition: What you put into your body is going to be a big factor in what you get out of your body when it comes to mental clarity, focus, and performance. If you find yourself constantly reaching for another coffee or hitting crashes after eating, then it would be beneficial to consider finding the foods, quantities, and meal timing that work best for you and your body.
- Exercise: This one can look very different person to person as well - but there’s no mistaking the fact that you will have more energy when you have some type of regular exercise routine. This could be walking, running, lifting weights, exercise classes, or stretching/yoga - but pick something that makes you feel good daily and weekly and commit to doing that.
- Biohacking: This one is saved for last for a reason - these types of strategies should supplement the ones above it, not the other way around. You can’t take energy supplements to replace a couple hours of sleep and good nutrition. But some of the biohacking strategies available can give a huge boost to your energy. Some of my personal favorites and ones that have worked well with many clients include breathwork, intermittent fasting, cold plunge/showers, and other supplementation.
Lastly it’s important to note here that everyone has different times throughout the day and/or week that are also ‘peak’ times. Don’t fight what comes naturally to you - it doesn’t matter whether that’s first thing in the morning, late at night, or after you’ve worked out and had your coffee. Identify those times where you tend to get the most done.
Identify highest value tasks
Once you know what brings you the most energy, you need to know what tasks to fill your peak energy time with in order to get the most out of your day. What are the tasks and activities that only you can do that will advance your business, career, or personal goals the furthest? These are the types of activities you want to be focusing on every day. For you that could be sales calls, marketing, producing content, strategic vision, or leading/training your team. Reflect on what those few highest value tasks are and make sure you’re working on those more than anything else. This has twofold benefit: First, you will make sure you are using your energy to do the things that create the most advancement. Second, by focusing on these tasks that you’re good at and creating progress/momentum - you’ll find yourself also having more energy than if you were focusing on things outside of your highest value (see next point for more on this).
Guard your highest productive times
Once you know what brings you the most energy, when you have the most energy, and what your highest value tasks are - your biggest challenge will become how do you guard against these times to make sure you’re getting the most done. Here’s some things to keep in mind that you’re going to have to get good at in order to guard your highest productive times:
- Saying No: Leaders know when and how to say no in order to see the most results. As you grow, personally or in business, more and more people are going to be requesting your time and talents. It’s important as a leader to know which requests to take on and when. If you find yourself just meeting others' requests and to do lists during your most productive times, you’ll continue to be frustrated with the lack of meaningful progress in your life and with your team.
- Blocking Distractions: This one is huge for so many people I work with. It’s amazing how many little distractions people will let into their day - especially during peak productive times. If 8-10am is when you feel the most productive and when you choose to block for your highest value tasks - then you need to fight to avoid all distractions during that time. That means not checking email and social media (low value tasks), having your phone by you, or bouncing from activity to activity (which wastes time and drains energy). Know what you’re going to be focused on during the time block you set aside, what distractions you need to get rid of, and get to work.
- Letting Those Around You Know: This ties in closely with the last point on blocking distractions. If people on your team and in your family know when you have blocked time for your highest value tasks - then they will know (or eventually learn) that you’ll only be available for emergencies during that time. And real emergencies - not the little fires that come up during a day that can completely derail your focus.
Implement strategic rest
This one is one of the most overlooked for those entrepreneurs and go getters out there - and many of you might even consider glossing over this point. But the importance of this can’t be emphasized enough. If you’re not regularly stepping away from your work and the demands of life, your productivity will continue to suffer. It may not show up for days, weeks, months, or even years - but it will catch up at some point. It will catch up in the form of burnout or getting sick and will set you back in the long run.
I like to tell my clients you can choose focused rest or forced rest - but rest is inevitable and essential to your success. Choose the daily, weekly, and yearly rhythms of rest needed to make sure you’re staying high energy in all that you do. It’s not worth squeezing out a little extra work in a day or a week if it costs you productivity in the month or in the year. You should be taking at least one day off a week of full rest (no work!), set clear boundaries on when your work and checking of email needs to be done for the day, and what other vacations or time away need to be planned to protect your energy and pour into your family/other areas of your life that need it more than your work does.
If you had to choose between managing energy or managing your time - you should absolutely choose managing your energy. 90 minutes of focused work can bring more progress than 9 hours of going through the motions. But once you manage your energy down, and you stack it with managing your time, you’ll start getting more things done than you ever thought possible.
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