Getting more done in the 24 hours we have each day is something we all aspire for. Most people deal with increasing pressures by putting in more hours at work but experts warn against it. In his bestselling book The Power of Full Engagement, author Tony Schwartz recommends that we manage our energy not our time. He advises people to treat life and work not as a marathon but as a sprint – while we strive towards a big goal, we must make rest stops in between to allow for recovery. Why managing your personal energy matters more than managing time is because unlike time, which is a finite resource, energy can be expanded and renewed at regular intervals. Here are 5 personal energy management tips to get more out of your time and achieve the coveted life balance.
#1 Break down big goals into smaller, achievable chunks and avoid draining your energy at one go: Looking at a massive to-do list at the start of the day is a perfect recipe for failing the marathon before you’ve even set foot on the ground. Most achievers have a tendency of over-expecting from themselves and underestimating the rest their mind and bodies require. Flip Brown, author of Balanced Effectiveness at Work: How to Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor without Driving Yourself Nuts, says life energy management is all about setting realistic expectations and boundaries for oneself. Achieving a big milestone through smaller ones leading up to it and rewarding yourself as you reach each stage is the key to success.
#2 Identify your high energy times and schedule tasks accordingly: Unsure of when your high energy times are? Track your feelings and productivity for about 10 days – when do you feel most energized to take on challenges? When are the times you struggle to keep your eyes open and your mind from wandering? Once you have a sense of your personal energy, managing it is easy – schedule the most creative tasks that require you to be at your thinking and decisive best when you are high on energy. Low impact, mundane tasks can occupy the other times. Better still, delegate them and use the spare time to recharge yourself. For most people, 3 PM is their lowest energy time – use it to do a short workout, meditate, listen to music, or do anything that helps you replenish energy.
#3 Make time to recharge: To maximize your productivity, you need to recharge your energy several times in a day. Whether it is a short walk, a chat with co-workers, or a quick bout of your favorite game – it’s important to unplug from work in between so you can come back to it fully refreshed. According to our bodies’ ultradian rhythms, we experience 90- to 120-minute cycles during which our bodies slowly move from a high-energy state into a physiological lull. Toward the end of each 90-120 minute cycle, the body craves for recovery with it sending out signals such as yawning, hunger, wandering of the mind, etc. When we ignore these and continue working, we are tapping into our energy reservoir—the remaining capacity that burns down as time progresses.
#4 Know your personal energy needs: What is it that helps you recharge? Replenishing and managing energy is different for every individual – while some do it through spending time with family and friends, others need some alone-time to reflect and process information. Whatever be your preferred method, it is important to be in tune with your body needs.
#5 Abiding by a healthy routine is sacred: While it’s no news that exercising regularly, eating healthy, getting sound sleep, taking regular breaks, and generally avoiding a sedentary lifestyle is key to success in life, most busy executives ignore the basics. It has now emerged that focusing on a routine that incorporates all of these is the key to effective personal energy management – critical for maximizing productivity.
Energy management – the next level in human resource management
Companies across the world are embracing energy management techniques to better manage their human capital, prevent burnout, and maximize productivity. They are using soft markers such as employees’ anxiety levels, their personal routines, sleep and mood patterns, etc. to determine their personal energy patterns and leverage the same for work-life improvement.