It’s About Managing Your Energy, Not So Much Your Time
We know of him. We’ve all seen him at one time or another – the quintessential hard worker. He is that 35 year old mid-management executive, married with two kids, working his butt off twelve to thirteen hours every weekday and sometimes even on week-ends. He comes home at night all spent, feeling like he’s just gone through a 42km marathon unable to completely interact with the family, causing him to feel like (you know what), dissatisfied and just about ready to raise the white flag. He tosses in bed most nights unable to sleep well, spends no time for exercise, rarely eats healthy meals, and instead just grabs a hot dog sandwich and eats on the run. Inevitably, these long hours he puts in take its toll on him physically, mentally and emotionally.
We’d conclude he manages his time poorly. Wrong. The experts would say he manages his energy poorly.
It’s Not Time Management. It’s Energy Management
The key problem with working longer hours is that time has its limit. It’s finite. Energy is an entirely different animal. Physics define energy as the capacity to work and do things. It emanates from four principal dimensions of our being. These are our body, our emotions, our mind and spirit. In each of this aspect, energy can methodically and systematically be harnessed, expanded and renewed regularly.
How Does This Happen?
This happens when one establishes specific rituals and develops behaviors that are deliberately practiced and scheduled precisely, the goal being to make them automatic and almost unconsciously a part of our lifestyle as soon as possible.
In other words, if we were to imagine our hardworking Joe managing his energy by following this idea, he’d be transforming his life for the better. He would for example, be setting an earlier bedtime, give up drinking and smoking which had been costing him his good night’s rest. In all likelihood, he’d wake up better rested and more inclined to do some workouts which he should be doing every morning to get rid of his excess weight. He would now be enjoying breakfast with the wife and the kids, re-establishing closer family ties. He might still be putting in long hours at the office, but, along the way, he’ll be renewing himself on a regular basis. When he gets home in the evening, he’ll be more relaxed and will easily connect with his loved ones.
If you see yourself in a similar situation, here’s what you can do about the four dimensions of your being to feel better:
- Your body– Make sure you get adequate nutrition, exercise and sleep. These will help raise your energy levels and manage your emotions better.
- Your emotions – Do some deep abdominal breathing. Inhaling and exhaling slowly for 6-10 seconds leads to relaxation and recovery. It’ll also turn off the fight-or-flight urge.
- Your mind – Keep multi-tasking to a minimum. It’s a whole lot more efficient to first completely focus on one task before taking on the next activity.
- The human spirit – To access energy here, set your priorities clearly and establish the accompanying rituals, doing what you do best and enjoying the most at work. Allocate time and energy to your job, family, health and service to others. Live your core values in your everyday behavior. You’ll experience a deeper sense of purpose that’ll energize you at work.
Sure, it’s good to manage your time, but managing your energy everyday will get you going on the job a whole lot better because it’ll be something you can draw from regularly.