we must manage energy, not time, he says, by becoming aware of two things: the way we spend our personal energy, and the way we renew it (and by energy, he means ‘our capacity to work’). It’s a profoundly simple way of charting a course through each day. (He then divides ‘energy’ into four: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.) Read the entire article
As many of you know I am a strong advocate for the need to govern our days by rhythms. Taking breaks to renew our physical, emotional and spiritual energy are necessary throughout the day, the week and the year and it looks as though the business world is starting to catch onto this.
Looking at Tony Schwartz’s blog I was impressed with the simplicity of his suggestions – but then doesn’t most wisdom seem simple when we read it yet challenging when we try to put it into practice?
I was particularly impressed with this list for helping people become more productive though I did struggle with the emphasis on productivity. If the goal of our lives is just to become more productive there is something missing. I think the goal of life is meant to be embracing that challenging journey toward becoming the people that God intends us to be and at its heart that journey is not about productivity but about looking, listening and learning – drawing closer to God and the image of God within us. Anyhow here is the list which I did find very helpful.
What, in short, does it take to be productive and efficient in a world of infinitely rising demand, and endless potential distractions? By productive, I mean generating goods and services with lasting value. By efficient, I mean doing so with the least amount of unnecessary expenditure of time and energy.
Here are six behaviors that we regularly teach to our clients (for more, please click here):
- Make sufficient sleep a top priority. Schedule your bedtime, and start winding down at least 45 minutes earlier. Ninety-eight percent of all human beings need at least 7-8 hours a night to feel fully rested. Only a fraction of us get that much regularly, in part because we buy into the myth that sacrificing an hour or two of sleep a night give us an hour more of productivity. In reality, even small amounts of sleep deprivation take a dramatic toll on our cognitive capacity, our ability to think creatively, our emotional resilience, the quality of our work, and even the speed at which we do it.
- Create one to-do list that includes everything you want or need to do, on and off the job — and I mean everything, including any unresolved issues that merit further reflection. That’s the essence of David Allen’s simple but profound work (see Getting Things Done). Writing everything down helps get it off your mind, leaving you free to fully focus on what’s most important at any given moment.
- Do the most important thing first when you get to work each morning, when you’re likely to be have the highest energy and the fewest distractions. Decide the night before what activity most deserves your attention. Then focus on it single-mindedly for no more than 90 minutes. Productivity isn’t about how many tasks you complete or the number of hours you work. It’s about the enduring value you create.
- Live like a sprinter, not a marathoner. When you work continuously, you’re actually progressively depleting your energy reservoir as the day wears on. By making intermittent renewal and refueling important, you’re regularly replenishing your reservoir, so you’re not only able to fully engage at intervals along the way, but also to maintain high energy much further into the day.
- Monitor your mood. When demand begins to exceed your capacity, one of the most common signs is an increase in negative emotions. The more we move into “fight or flight,” the more reactive and impulsive we become, and the less reflective and responsive. The first question to ask yourself is “Why am I feeling this way, and what can I do to make myself feel better?” It may be that you’re hungry, tired, overwhelmed, or feeling threatened in some way. Awareness is the first step. You can’t change what you don’t notice.
- Schedule specific times for activities in your life that you deem important but not urgent. With so much coming at you all the time, it’s easy to focus all day on whatever feels most pressing in the moment. What you sacrifice is the opportunity to take on work such as writing, strategizing, thinking creatively, or cultivating relationships, which may require more time and energy, but often yield greater long-term rewards.