I recently came across a simple yet profound statement: “Manage your energy, not your time.” This idea resonated with me in a way that went beyond the superficial, and it got me thinking. Most of us intuitively understand that our mental and physical state significantly impacts our productivity. However, the message to prioritize energy management over time management struck a chord and led me to reevaluate my daily routines and scheduling methods.
For the longest time, I adhered to the conventional wisdom of creating rigid schedules with time blocks assigned to various tasks. An hour for my morning routine, 40 minutes for exercise, 8 hours for work, another hour for writing, 30 minutes for dinner — it all looked great on paper. But, when it came to implementing these plans, I was frequently met with disappointment. I blamed my lack of discipline, but the real issue was my time management approach. It’s challenging to stick to a schedule when you’re unable to focus or when you’re physically drained or unwell.
Some might argue, “Just push through it,” and while that has its place, it shouldn’t be the daily norm. If you constantly need to exert extra effort to adhere to your schedule, something isn’t working.
So, what’s the solution? The answer isn’t always to do more of what energizes you, as that’s not always feasible. Instead, it’s about prioritizing and preserving your energy to fuel your day. The objective isn’t to skip tasks because your energy is low but to devise a strategy that ensures you have that extra burst of energy to do more, particularly the things you enjoy.
Now, you might be thinking about the basics of nutrition and exercise. Yes, they are crucial, but I won’t dwell on those as they are widely acknowledged. Instead, I’d like to share my journey of observation over a week, focusing on the things I do every day without introducing or removing anything significant. Here is how I would observe a day of my life.
1-Week Energy Observation:
This is how most of the days look for me (with slight differences of course, such as working out).
- Food: A hearty breakfast — eggs, bacon, bell pepper, and coffee. (energized)
- Movement: None. (neutral)
- Work: Commenced my 9–5 job. (neutral)
- Socializing: Brief interaction with my partner. (energized)
- Others/Entertainment: Reading a few pages. (neutral)
overall morning energy levels: neutral
- Food: A balanced meal with chicken, cauliflower, a sweet treat with caramel, one clementine, and a cappuccino. (not so energized)
- Movement: A short walk. (neutral)
- Work: Continued my 9–5 job. (not so energized)
- Socializing: More interaction with my partner and some online chats. (energized)
- Others/Entertainment: Watched some Netflix. (neutral)
overall afternoon energy levels: neutral
- Food: Indulged in a chicken burger and fries at a restaurant, along with two cider pints. (not so energized)
- Movement: Another walk. (energized)
- Work: No work in the evening. (neutral)
- Socializing: Quality time with my partner and a night out with live music. (energized)
overall evening energy levels: neutral
Through this observation, I’m trying to become more attuned to what energizes me and what drains me in my daily activities. The fact that the final result is neutral, makes me think I need to change some things.
While we all know some things that are detrimental to our energy, we often fail to acknowledge their true impact, which is why I find it beneficial to document these experiences. Even though I’m not a fan of meticulous tracking, this practice helps me connect with my day on a deeper level. I do this when I need it.
I’ve noticed a few energy detractors, such as the absence of a workout, alcohol consumption, sugar, and overconsumption of coffee. On the flip side, factors contributing positively to my energy include enjoying good food, experiencing live music, and being around fun people in cozy settings. While, I already know about these factors, seeing them on paper makes me reconsider how I start the next day.
But What’s The Point Of All This?
The essence of my message is simple: managing your energy can be more effective than rigidly managing your time.
By observing your day and paying attention to the subtle influences on your motivation, you may uncover the solution to your productivity and motivation challenges.
In a world where we’re often fixated on squeezing every ounce of productivity out of our schedules, perhaps the key to achieving our goals is to become more attuned to our energy and to make choices that optimize it.