Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time

Time is a finite resource. Energy is a capacity to work. There are four types of energy...

  • Body / Physical
  • Emotions / Emotional
  • Mind / Mental
  • Spirit / Spiritual

In each, energy can be systematically expanded and regularly renewed by establishing specific rituals. Behaviors that are intentionally practiced and precisely scheduled, with the goal of making them unconscious and automatic as quickly as possible.

To recharge themselves, individuals need to recognize the costs of energy-depleting behaviors and then take responsibility for changing them

The Body: Physical Energy

Inadequate nutrition, exercise, sleep, and rest diminish people's basic energy levels, as well as their ability to manage their emotions and focus their attention

The Emotions: Quality of Energy

If you have control of their emotions, you can improve the quality of their energy, regardless of the external pressures you facing. Become more aware of how you feel at various points of the day.

Without intermittent recovery, we're not capable of sustaining highly positive emotions for long periods. Confronted with relentless demands and unexpected challenges, people tend to slip into negative emotions—the fight-or-flight mode—often multiple times in a day. Such states of mind drain people's energy. Fight-or-flight emotions also make it impossible to think clearly, logically, and reflectively.

One simple but powerful ritual for defusing negative emotions is "buying time." Deep abdominal breathing is one way to do that. Exhaling slowly for five or six seconds induces relaxation and recovery, and turns off the fight-or-flight response..

A ritual that fuels positive emotions is expressing appreciation to others, a practice that seems to be as beneficial to the giver as to the receiver. Gratitude.

People can cultivate positive emotions by learning to change the stories they tell themselves about the events in their lives.

People can change a story by three lenses

  • reverse lens: "What would the other person in this conflict say and in what ways might that be true?"
  • long lens: "How will I most likely view this situation in six months?"
  • wide lens: "Regardless of the outcome of this issue, how can I grow and learn from it?"

The Mind: Focus of Energy

It's far more efficient to fully focus for 90 to 120 minutes, take a true break, and then fully focus on the next activity. We refer to these work periods as "ultradian sprints."

Focus systematically on activities that have the most long-term leverage. Unless people intentionally schedule time for more challenging work, they tend not to get to it at all or rush through it at the last minute. Perhaps the most effective focus ritual the executives we work with have adopted is to identify each night the most important challenge for the next day and make it their very first priority when they arrive in the morning.

The Human Spirit: Energy of Meaning and Purpose

People tap into the energy of the human spirit when their everyday work and activities are consistent with what they value most and with what gives them a sense of meaning and purpose. If the work they're doing really matters to them, they typically feel more positive energy, focus better, and demonstrate greater perseverance

We don't suggest that people explicitly define their values, because the results are usually too predictable. Instead, we seek to uncover them, in part by asking questions that are inadvertently revealing, such as, "What are the qualities that you find most off-putting when you see them in others?" By describing what they can't stand, people unintentionally divulge what they stand for.