I have a confession: I am an efficiency junkie. As a mom of 2 young kids and the co-founder of 2 businesses, I’m always on the lookout for new ways to manage energy, not time.
Now, maybe your specific circumstances aren’t exactly like mine, but I bet we’re similar in that we’re both looking for ways to balance the responsibility of life with the spaciousness and joy of ‘the good stuff.’
Said another way, how do I take care of my responsibilities and manage to feel good along the way?
I wanted to share some insight I stumbled upon recently that has really helped me re-think my approach to my list of responsibilities.
Time management is a hot topic. A quick Google search returns over 3.8 BILLION results. We’re all searching for the way to get more done in the 24 hours we each have in our day.
But, therein lies the problem! Time is finite. We each only have 24 hours in a day. No matter how we ‘manage’ it, we can’t make more.
Beyond that, even when we try to reclaim time, we typically resort to reclaiming it from critical activities like sleep, exercise, socializing, and hobbies.
If my goal is to accomplish my responsibilities while feeling good, taking time away from the things that help me feel good is certainly not the way to do it!
Manage Energy, Not Time
Tony Schwartz is a new author I’m in love with. He wrote the book “The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy Not Time.” He is also the CEO of The Energy Project.
In his work he points out that time is a finite resource, and no matter how much we try to ‘manage’ it, we can’t make more.
In contrast, energy is renewable.
We can use specific tactics to boost our energy and our stamina to make sure we can perform at our peak while feeling good along the way.
COUNT. ME. IN.
1. Physical Energy
Rituals that help you renew physical energy include the major health-promoting behaviors we all know are important:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Drinking water
- Sleeping enough
But, he also points to the ritual of taking regular breaks to give our body a chance to reset and rejuvenate.
2. Emotional Energy
The second set of rituals revolves around emotional regulation. This aligns nicely to the emotional intelligence literature, whereby you cultivate 2 sets of skills:
- The ability to recognize your own emotional state
- The ability to use tools and interventions to augment your emotional state
Schwartz points to rituals like deep breathing, to stave off the ‘fight-or-flight’ emotions we as humans are so prone to experience.
He also points to rituals like gratitude and appreciation as a way to boost positive emotion.
On both ends of the spectrum, putting ourselves in an optimal emotional state gives us the stamina and energy boost we need to perform at our best.
3. Mental Energy
As we get busier and busier, many of us resort to the same tactics in an attempt to get more done: we multitask.
As it turns out, research has shown that multitasking isn’t actually possible, even though we feel like we’re doing it well.
Rather than helping us get more done, multitasking actually over-taxes our mental capacity, making us less capable of persisting for periods of time and less capable of focusing on any one task at hand.
We’ve talked many times about our limited cognitive resources as human beings. If there’s one way to over-deplete these resources, it’s to multitask.
Establish Your Rituals
What I thought was most helpful about Schwartz’s 3-part framework is that it was so comprehensive about the way it views energy management.
It gives us a very holistic way to help ourselves feel better as we go about the responsibilities of our lives.
So, try it!
Think about each of these 3 categories of energy, and develop your own rituals around boosting energy in each category. Put these rituals to work in your life, even if it’s difficult at first. Become a master and manage energy, not your time.
Give it a try, and let me know how it went.
For more help designing the specific rituals and routines that truly work for you, check out our mini-course, Self-care [by Design].
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve been at my desk for quite a while, and I’m going to head out to take a walk to recharge.