Energy Or Time Management: What is More Important?
There are thousands of articles, write-ups, and essays that talk about time management. As a culture, we are time-obsessed. I lived overseas for 16 years and got a first-hand perspective of how different we are from our European counterparts. Americans have a distinctive focus on time more than anyone else in the world. Are we most distracted than other cultures too? We know what we need to focus on yet, we don’t do it and squander our time. Why? How come we are so easily distracted today? instant gratification is taunting us. There are lures everywhere from instant messaging making us feel important, pictures of friends to connect us on Facebook, funny videos to make us laugh on youtube, instant downloads, sugary snacks all calling to us when we are not fully focused on the task at hand. Our brain is wired for immediate satisfaction.
If you look at human psychology, your brain is programmed to take the path of least resistance. We want to take the simplest path. We have to have greater motivation and trust in the long-term result in order to access our self-discipline. Try tracking your self-discipline and what triggers you to take the short-term gain versus the long-term gain. It is easy to recognize when you pay attention. You have less self-discipline to stay the course for the reward later unless the connection and belief that long-term payoff far outweighs the short-term gain and is likely to happen.
Short Term Rewards Undermine Long Term Gains
Lets look at short-term rewards, how they show up and the stories we tell ourselves to make it ok. You want to eat that donut because it tastes good and you tell yourself deserve it. You don’t want to go out running because it requires more effort than staying on the couch and say to yourself you are too tired, you will start tomorrow. What about when you avoid telling talking to a staff member who is underperforming because you are driven to avoid conflict and difficult discussions. You tell yourself you can’t afford to let them go, they are loyal and have been with the company for years, they will get back on track just give them some time.
These are all excuses we make to avoid the short term pain Time management tips aren’t just about recognizing WHERE you are spending your time, but more importantly HOW you show up for that time. Avoiding the myriad distractions that are vying for your time and energy requires self-discipline. When our energy is low and we aren’t conscious of what elements keep our energy focused we are susceptible to distractions.
Have you ever been on a diet and kept to it all day, to come home and after dinner, something clicked and you ate everything in your snack closet? I know I have. It is because we have limited resources of self-discipline. When we have used it up it is hard to resist temptation, regardless of the fact that we know it isn’t good for us. To make matters worse, many of us complain and beat ourselves up after the binge.
This has very little to do with time, time management, and no normal time management tips are going to solve this challenge for you. Can you see why? Time management structures such as time blocking, time tracking, scheduling, and structured working take self-discipline and if we don’t set ourselves up with success to manage our energy, we are tapped out of self-discipline before we even get into the office. Our energy is sucked up in agreements at home, traffic on the way, managing kids’ schedules in your head, and the various other tasks and responsibilities that you have circled in your head.
Use Your Self-Discipline To Manage Your Energy
I get it, I am currently a single mom with 2 kids playing travel sports, I run my own business, I have a team to oversee, multiple projects running simultaneously, clients to address, presentations and workshops to prepare for, and so on – just like you.
Take your self-discipline and focus on managing your energy and recognize the shift in how you feel, how much you get done, and how others respond to you. The energy is not just the strength that your body has; it is related to both, the physical as well as emotional aspects. If you have a good amount of energy in your body, this will support you to achieve all the things that you wish to, the energy in your body enhances how you use your time. When we are depleted of energy we are not efficient or effective, therefore not making the best use of our time. We make mistakes, we are prone to accidents, we are easily distracted so it takes twice as long to do the task at hand, we get irritable and hard to work with, and so much more.
Energy Management Should Be A Requirement During Employee Training
In simple words, even though time is really important, energy management is what you need to focus on the most. Every leadership development course should include energy management in their employee training. Still, wondering why? Read below to know the reasons:
- Energy can be replenished, time is spent and gone. When you focus on something you can’t control, such as time, you create stress for yourself. And When you are stressed you make others stressed see point 2.
- Energy is contagious. How you show up for something matters, especially as a leader. Your energy affects or infects everyone around you. You know what I mean. We all know negative people who act like a vacuum and suck up all the energy in the room when they walk in. Working with them drains and depletes you. Don’t be the guy or gal! As a leader, your team will match and mirror you so if you don’t bring your best energy, don’t expect the best energy from your team. You set the example.
- Do it right the first time and avoid mistakes: Even if you have a lot of time on your hands unless you have the energy emotionally and physically to do something that you have decided, you aren’t doing it right. It is frustrating and time-consuming to have to do a task again because you didn’t do it right the first time. Knowing how to manage your energy can make all the difference in doing it right the first time.
- Be more efficient and effective: When you have less time in your hands, you have to focus hard on the energy that you have. This is supported by Parkinson’s law that states “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. You can do more in less time. Shorten your time allocated and aligning the energy of your physiology with your mindset, you get an unquestionable boost in focus.
- When you manage energy, you resolve conflict faster or avoid conflict altogether: By learning the concepts of energy management, you are able to manage your communication (language, self-talk, body language) which often creates unnecessary conflict. You are able to ask better questions of yourself and others and come from a place of curiosity rather than assumption.
- Energy management boosts your creativity: When you are focused on the factors of managing your energy you will have more ideas, be more flexible in how you approach challenges.
Thanks to the concept and application of energy management, your performance will be boosted at work. You have just read the most important time management tips. Becoming more efficient and effective has less to do with time management and more to do with energy management. Make the shift. Stress levels will drop and you will feel the difference in yourself and those around you.
Here is a link to download the first chapter of my book, The Productivity Zone: “Stop the Tug of War with Time” which explains the concept of energy management in more detail.