In any given week, I get plenty of emails about Time Management – seminars to attend, books to read, articles to click through to, and the hottest new productivity tools to buy. And when I find myself struggling to get through my to-do list or forgetting to do something, I feel guilty about my “poor time management.” No wonder everyone is focused on time management. Seems like there is always more to do, more information to process, more new technology to comprehend, more people to stay in touch with, and more places to be at the same time! Yet, we still have the same 24 hours in a day that we’ve always had. So, what do we do? Sleep less? Not I.
No, for me the answer is to focus on managing my energy, not my time. Time is not in my control. I can’t slow it down, speed it up, save it, or shift it. My energy, on the other hand, I can completely control. I can adjust, shift, save, and really manage my energy, and thereby manage my approach to the tasks on my list. The thoughts and feelings I associate with a task, the way I feel physically and emotionally about it, all play into managing my energy. The more angst and “weight” I put toward a particular issue or task, the more energy I will expend and the more difficult it will be to work through. But when I put things in perspective, and devote lighter, more positive energy toward something, I find it much easier to get things done and accomplish what I need to. For example, I find word choice very helpful for putting things in perspective. Instead of saying I “have to” write a new blog post, I say I “get to” write a new blog post. That simple one-word shift changes the task from a burden to an opportunity.
Managing your energy also means that you have to be willing to make choices and prioritize the things you want to get done. By being clear about what is really important, you will be better able to focus your energy where it counts the most. Recovering perfectionists may find it hard to do this. For them, everything is weighty and requires that they devote great importance to it. But every task, issue, opportunity or challenge is not equally weighty. Ask yourself, “Is this the best use of my time right now? Is this effort good enough? Am I overreaching or pushing too hard with this issue?”
By managing our energy rather than our time, we can more easily set priorities, keep things in perspective, and do the things that we choose to do and want to do. In fact, you just might find the time to read that Time Management book on your shelf.
Where can you focus on managing your energy rather than your time? How has it worked for you now and in the past? We’d like to hear from you. Share a tip for managing your energy.