Energy management - How managing personal energy levels saves time

What are your energy levels like? Are you ‘ready to go’ in the morning? Are you able to maintain high levels of energy during the day? Do you rely a lot on caffeine or sugar to keep you going? Do you have energy at the end of the day? There is a strong case that energy management can save you more time than time management.

Energy management and saving time

Consider - what good is time management skills without the energy to implement or enjoy? This article looks at ways to increase and manage your energy levels.

1.The importance of recovery time

Stress can be good. Without stress we don’t grow. However, stress is only good if you have recovery time. We all deplete our physical, emotional and mental energy. To recharge we need recovery time. Often what we may consider to be wasted time is critical to enable us to recharge and recover. In other words (and as much as I hate to admit it) doing things such as watching TV (in moderation)can be good if it enables you to recover. Without recovery time the body burns out physically, emotionally and mentally. With recovery time we can make better use of our overall time.

2.Managing your energy during the day

During the day we all go through stages of feeling up and down, feeling awake and feeling sleepy, being alert and being distracted. Our bodies go through a repeating energy cycle (ultradian rhythms) every 90 to 120 minutes. The implications are that we only do solid work for up to about 90 minutes at a time and we then need a break or switch to something lighter.

Productive zone

The trick to managing your daily energy is to work on the tough stuff when you are alert and focused, and work on the easier stuff (or take a break) when your feeling down or distracted. To make the most of your time – work in short bursts or sprints … then recover. To maximise your energy you need breaks.

Practical tips:
(i) Robert Cooper suggests – “identify the times of day when your energy rises and sinks with ultradian energy cycles and take an essential break – a two to five minute break at midmorning, lunch and midafternoon”.

(ii) Keep the tough stuff for when you are most alert. For example, read difficult material or make tough decisions when you are most alert.

Two quotes to ponder:
“Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer; since to remain constantly at work will cause you to lose power of judgment…" (Leonardo da Vinci)

The “... most productive lives are characterised by the ability to fully engage in the challenge at hand, but also to disengage periodically and seek renewal. ” (Loehr and Schwartz)

3. Building our energy reserves

Typically, everything we do either builds or takes away from our energy reserves.

Energy for better time use

Effective time usage depends on looking after multiple sources of energy. These include – physical energy, emotional energy and mental energy. Key factors to building our energy include

Physical energy

Eat well- plenty of vegetables and fruit, be light on the fats and sugars. Make sure you are hydrated by drinking sufficient water. Don’t skip breakfast.
Sleep well – we need sleep to build our stamina and function properly. Most adults need 7-8 hours a night. For more details refer to Tip to improve sleep time.
Exercise at least 3 or 4 times a week. Refer to Why busy people need exercise time .
Recovery time - Manage physical stress levels with recovery time.

Emotional energy

Good relationships - Cultivate good relations with those you live and work with. (Constant conflict just drains us of energy).Learn to forgive, don’t hold grudges and move on … otherwise it will eat you up and consume your energy and time.
Chill out - Don’t be a worrier … worry sucks the energy out of us.

Live your values - Stick to your values and principles, and keep a clear conscious.
Recover time - Manage emotional stress levels with recover time

Mental energy

Careful what you feed your mind – negative thinking and worry drains you. Take time to enjoy your mind
Find things that engage your mind
Recover time – Manage mental stress levels with recovery time. Learn to switch off from work [However, this may not be a problem for many of us].

Questions to consider about your energy

  1. What drains you of your energy? (For example – some relationships, poor habits, some obligations)
  2. When are you most alert? Do you make the most of this time?
  3. When are you least alert? What can you do with this time?

Energy Quotes

  • “Enthusiasm finds the opportunities and energy makes the most of them” (Henry S. Haskins)
  • “The first requisite of success is the ability to apply your physical and mental energies to one problem without growing weary”. (Thomas Edison)
  • "Energy, not time, is our most precious resource" (Loehr and Schwartz)

Other articles from the 'Better than Time Management' series

Other related CraveTime

References

Blair G.R, “Everything Counts: 52 Remarkable ways to inspire excellence and drive results”, John Wiley & Sons, 2009.

Cooper R, “Increase your energy and effectiveness”, Association Management, Washington, Oct 1999, Vol 51, Iss 10, pg 113.

Loehr J & Schwartz T, “The Power of Full Engagement – Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal”, The Free Press, 2003

Comments

Coffee anyone?

What role does Coffee play in this? Can you simply use coffee to even out your energy levels? So take a caffeine hit during the energy troughs to kick you through to the next high?

Energy healing/energy medicine

In addition to the things listed, I have found my energy to become more balanced when I incorporate energy medicine into my routine. The difference is subtle at first but the effects compound as time goes on.
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