Manage your energy levels not your time
Use energy management to make the best out of your time
I hope you are doing well and had a great week! I am really happy that you read another issue of my weekly learnings. It is awesome that you are part of my journey to become my best self.
This week was a very exiting one. My internship as a consulting intern started. I had my first workday with a very short onboarding and could directly start to contribute to my team’s work. It is really crazy how fast the time is running at the job. I think the reason for this is that the work itself is demanding in a way which is very satisfying. For me, the work must not be too simple and convenient, but rather I need challenges and have a need for learning something new every day. Currently, my internship is offering this and it is really great. But enough about the internship, let’s dive into this week’s learnings.
Manage your energy not your time
Eight days ago (last weekend) I read a Harvard Business Review article about time management, why it is more important to manage your energy rather than your time and how you can implement this in your daily (work) life. As every week I summarized this article (at least one article per week) and tried to implement the scientific findings in my daily life. This time I could feel a huge impact of the reading and this is what I want to share with you this week.
First of all, I am convinced that a conscious and proper energy management can help to achieve more in less time and increase your overall happiness and satisfaction (no matter if you study, work or having other kinds of problems with managing your time).
According to the authors (Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy) it is better to manage your energy level and capacity rather than your time because time is a finite resource. Moreover, the impact of small changes in your daily routines and behavior to increase your energy levels can have a much stronger impact on the quality and amount of output you can produce. In order to make this a little more illustrative I want to give you a very simple example: What change do you think is more effective and efficient? Sleeping only 5 hours per day so that you have a few hours more daily or, alternatively, focus on only one task at hand, remove all distractions and have fixed and scheduled rest times? I think you know the answer. In the short-term the first alternative might work better, but in the long-term the latter substantially outperforms the first change in terms of quality and amount of output.
The article I read deals with the four main wellsprings of human beings which represent the sources of energy of us humans: Body, emotion, mind and spirit. Body is like the physiological and biological view on energy management. Emotion focuses on the increase of the energy quality. Mind is all about the focus of energy and spirit concentrates on enhancing the energy of meaning and purpose. Each dimensions offers opportunities for improvement of your daily energy levels and capacity. In the following I try to explain and demonstrate you how to make use of the before mentioned changes for each “wellspring” of energy.
Body – Changes in this dimension are straightforward. You can increase your energy capacity by improving your sleep habits, have a good nutrition, do sports regularly (at least four times a week) and make use of breaks and rest. I mean those changes are quite obvious and the most of them we already know. However, I really think you should try to implement a small change (go to bed early so that you have 7 to 8 hours of sleep, e. g.) which you think is very easy for you. The mid-term impact you can experience will be huge, I promise you.
Emotion – Changes in this dimension will increase the quality of your energy. It has much to do with how you spend the most of your time and how you perceive the world. One change I really recommend you to consider is that you always try to see the world from another perspective when you are confronted with a conflict (in case you have not already adopted such a view). Conflicts, misunderstandings, arguments and other kinds of such situations can massively decrease the quality of your energy. Just imagine you are extremely motivated when you begin your work day. Suddenly your co-worker blames you that you haven’t still sent him the necessary information s/he requested from you three days ago. However, you don’t regard this job in your responsibility. This conflict escalates and, hence, you need to consult with your manager as your co-worker is not willing to compromise. There are two ways to deal with such a situation: 1. You insist on your view that you are not responsible. 2. You try to understand your co-worker’s view on the situation and think long-term.
The authors recommend three questions in such situations to take a more reflected and better position and perspective: 1. What does the other person think and what could be right at this thoughts? 2. How will you most likely view this situation in six months (mid-term impact)? 3. Regardless of the outcome of this issue, how can I learn and grow from it? I really like this questions as they seem to really help taking another view on the situation. Especially the last question can help you to regard the situation positively and learn from it. I am convinced that you can keep your levels of high quality energy when you make use of such methods to make the best out of those kind of issues.
Do not multitask; focus on one activity
Mind – This dimension has offered me the most potential for improvement. I am always searching for techniques and methods to get more done in less time. However, the article showed me that it is not always about quantity but rather about quality. In this dimension you concentrate on increasing the focus of your energy. As already mentioned in the beginning, it is more efficient and effective to focus on a single task. Distractions are very costly and multi-tasking can substantially undermine your productivity. In my case this means that I really need to make sure that my smartphone is not distracting me (as mentioned in my last learnings) and that I do not answer emails all the time, but have a fixed time slot for answering them. Moreover, I try to remove any other potential interferences with my concentration. This helped me a lot this week. I put my smartphone in a bag meters away from me, disconnected from the internet when possible and turned my notification for messages on mute. Additionally, I scheduled breaks every 90 minutes and were concentrated during those 90 minutes. I felt so productive and efficient, a very awesome feeling.
Spirit – The last aspect to consider is the energy of meaning and purpose. This is a very long-term oriented improvement of your energy levels. I think it clear that when you work at job that fulfills you, gives you a sense of meaning and purpose and which you can fully commit to, you are more energetic and happy doing it. You can access this additional energy capacity through meaningful work and activities which are consistent with what you value most and what has a particular purpose for you. In order to find such work you need to clarify your values and priorities. You need to know what you represent and stand for and what the job/employer - you want to work for - is going to represent. Then, find your sweet spot: Think about activities during which you felt effective, effortlessly inspired and fulfilled. Deconstruct those activities and find out what aspects energized you most. For example, if you had a project on increasing the social impact on your company and you were clearly more motivated, think about what exactly motivated in this work. Was it the social impact? The people working with you on the project? The type of task? With this method you can find out what energizes you in the long-term and what kind of work you need to strive for in order to make use of your own energy of purpose and meaning.
I could make use of many of the proposed small changes I read in the article. I hope you can learn something from it too. Moreover, I really hope that I could make clear the different dimensions and opportunities for improvement. If I did not, you can send me a message and I will try my best to help you understanding it.
This was the last week's post. Thank you a lot for reading. See you next week!
All the best to you and yours, David