There always seems to be more to do than time allows
For a long time I prided myself on having exceptional time management. It has been a staple of what I’ve taught businesses over the years, and it’s crept into conversations about all sorts. Because – put simply – we as humans always seem to be searching for more of it.
I hate to break it to you, but there is no more time to be found. Time is time. And time is always running out.
This is the first clue as to why focusing on time isn’t going to make us more productive – because by focusing on something that is always running out, eluding our every effort, and disappearing into thin air (or days, or weeks, or months), we’re chasing the uncatchable, and focusing on the negative.
Even though I knew how to manage my time, I used to always feel like I needed another three or four hours to get through my work and not let my clients and myself down. I am sure many of you know that feeling.
But what can we do about it? It’s time to re-frame. It’s time to focus on our energy.
It wasn’t until I read “The Power Of Full Engagement: Managing Energy Not Time Is The Key To High Performance And Personal Renewal” (by Jim Loehr, who is a performance psychologist, and author and Tony Schwartz, who is an American journalist and business book author) that I realised that there is a more productive way to reach my daily objectives.
In The Power of Full Engagement, Schwartz and Loehr present the argument that people need to match their energy to a task in order to excel. To them, managing time isn’t nearly as important as managing how you invest your energy.
“Every one of our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours has an energy consequence. The ultimate measure of our lives is not how much time we spend on the planet, but rather how much energy we invest in the time that we have.”
This is quite a shift from doing things how we’ve always been taught to do – planning through calendars and according to availability.
In their book, Schwartz and Loehr discuss four key management principles that help people drive performance. All of these spoke to me in a very powerful way:
- For full engagement, we need to draw on physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual energy
- to do this, we need to understand our energy centres and what ignites them
- Since energy capacity diminishes with both overuse and underuse, we should balance energy expenditure with renewal.
- this sounds like a balancing act, but once you understand what feeds into point #1, it’s about finding the flow
- We must push beyond our limits in the same way elite athletes do in order to build capacity.
- yes, prepare to re-frame your thinking on this. It’s doing some unlearning to be able to use our personal power in unique and productive ways
- Specific routines for managing energy called ‘positive energy rituals’ are important for engagement and performance
- these are probably now some of my favourite moments of the day, because they feel like “me time” but they are actually helping to fuel the entire energy centre
It’s a bit like the analogy of cutting the round cake. You could cut it into identical pie-shaped slices and do like we’ve always been taught to do it, or you could cut it like you’d cut a block of cheese. The pieces aren’t identical, but it’s more efficient, less messy, and everyone still gets to enjoy some cake. It’s opening our minds to a new way of operating. And since we’re all time poor anyway, what have we got to lose?
With this newfound knowledge and understanding, my world has changed. I am no longer dividing tasks according to blocks of time. I am now dividing tasks according to the things I know I can do according to my energy levels – which, as everyone’s do, fluctuate throughout the day.
Here are the things I have found work best for me when managing my energy, not my time:
- I know that my energy is not finite, much like time isn’t either. But energy can be renewed and reserved according to what we need to use it for
- goals that need laser focus and attention are completed during my peak energy time
- I plan ‘energy renewal’ time into my day. For me that’s walking and yoga, several times a day
I’d love to hear how you get on with managing your energy if you choose to change your thinking on this subject!
In the words of James Redfield, I now realise that
“Where attention goes, energy flows: Where intention goes energy flows”