I knew a coach that used to say…
‘Time is the enemy’
I understood what he was getting at, that it always feels like there is more we can do, and we are always busy. But I didn’t fully buy into it. The more he used this mantra the more it started to bother me. Until one day I said to him…
‘Is time really the enemy? Or is how we use the time we have the most important factor?’
That short tale isn’t a ‘lightbulb moment, and the coach changed his way of approaching time management’ kind of story. He carried on as usual, but I didn’t. I was onto something; I had realised that what I did with my time was more important than how much of it I had.
I realised that I could do anything with my time but not everything.
So, this article is going to talk about why it is more important to manage your energy than your time and give you some strategies to do so.
But before I start there are a few things you should know.
- I am not very good with other people’s frameworks and models.
- I look at a model someone else has created and I re-fashion it to something that works for me
- Managing your energy and how you invest it is totally bespoke to you
- I cannot preach to you that one method trumps all because it doesn’t
- What works for Boris might not work for Doris
- You get to choose to read with an open mind, digest what you like, question your current biases around this topic, then bank some questions for the round table discussion
So, let’s get into it then.
The Finite Resource
I want to start with an exercise that I’ll use as a metaphor throughout the article.
This task will be really simple for you guys.
Jot down a few bullet points as to how a 100m sprinter trains for their event.
Chances are you had a range of drills, some technical aspects, perhaps some sled/pulley work, starts. But I would be surprised if many of you have Sprint 100m at top speed in your list.
My point here is that great improvements can be made without running the full distance, which is incredibly intense and takes a long time to recover from.
Energy management is exactly the same. You do not have to use it all up every single time you have a task or objective. You can work in bursts of high intensity, rest, repeat, or do longer periods of time at a lower intensity than rest-repeat.
As with sprinting, the outcome is often more effective when you don’t go foot down for the whole distance in training repeatedly.
Let me elaborate on the energy management point here using one keyword. Prioritisation.
Choosing to place your time and energy into a specific…
- Focus area
Let me be clear, this is all about choice. It is all about understanding where you need to put your energy to optimise your outcome. The time aspect takes care of itself once you start to put your energy into the right areas. This is most likely due to increased focus, leading to greater productivity.
But this isn’t just about tasks, goals, and environments. This is most importantly about people, and whether you choose to be around energy givers or energy takers.
I am positive you have had conversations with people before where you just leave exhausted, because they have just taken all your energy, like an energy vacuum.
When you prioritise one option over another you are choosing where to place your energy, you are choosing to invest in that area under the basic premise that you will get some returns. Even as basic as doing the washing up, the return is clean dishes and a clearer kitchen.
Saying no to something means you are saying yes to something else. Let’s, use some examples here.
|Saying NO to…||Could mean saying YES to…|
|Staying late at work||Spending precious time with the family|
|Energy hoovers||Protecting your energy for those that matter|
|Moving jobs||Investing in your existing relationships|
|Switching off your phone||Being present and engaged|
|Late nights||Having more energy the next day|
So next time something comes up with needs your energy, consider what you are saying yes to and what that means you are also saying no to as a result.
Create your own high-performance environment
High performers did not become high performing by chance. They all have two key things in common.
There are hundreds of systems and processes which people use to optimise their performance. These essentially relate to how a person goes about their daily lives, time and task management and general working methodology. People have systems and processes for everything these days from morning routines through to product launches, pre-season training camps or athlete monitoring.
My message to you hear is to create your own systems and processes which allow you to push hard when you need to push hard, and chill when you need to chill. What works for Boris doesn’t work for Doris, so this is why you need to create your own. Energy management is bespoke. But this means you need to be cognisant of some of these things to individualise your systems and processes:
What are the attentional requirements of a task?
- High creativity/high energy
- High creativity/low energy
- Low creativity/low energy
- Low creativity/high energy
When do you work optimally?
- Get to know your chronotype, HERE is a nice little article on how to boost your productivity
- Align your optimal working pattern with the task attentional requirements
What are the variables involved?
The most important takeaway from this section is to understand what works for you and when.
Some Closing Statements
You’ll notice I have hardly mentioned time in this article. That is because it is not the most important element. To a large degree, it takes care of itself once you get the prioritisation and optimisation pieces in place.
Here are a few takeaway soundbites from the article:
How you optimally manage your energy is bespoke to you.
What you do with your time is more important than how much of it you have.
Productivity is the outcome of effective prioritisation.
When you say no to something, you are automatically saying yes to something else, and vice versa.
Build your own high-performance environment by getting to know yourself and your tasks.
Thank you for reading.
Hopefully, this article challenged you to think about how you invest your energy and where.
For those of you thank don’t know, Career Blueprint is all about providing well-being journals, short courses and education for performance practitioners, fitness professionals and sports coaches.
I create tools and content especially for performance practitioners because you deserve to lead a happy, healthy, and wealthy life. We give so much of ourselves to our athletes and don’t leave enough for ourselves and our well-being suffers.
It is about time we did something about that because we are more than just performance practitioners. So, follow the links below and come join the movement.
The Practitioner Wellness Guy