When we are frazzled and discombobulated, the solution seems to always be time management. We are never advised to think about the energy needed to effectively manage that time. After all, you can have the greatest time management skills in the world, but if you lack the energy to implement them effectively, they will do you no good at all.
So, let’s focus on something which serves as the real basis of your need for time management as the first step in our energy production suggestions- energy management.
Energy management is about using the energy you already have in a much more productive way. Doing this will help you to manage your time more effectively as an added bonus.
First off, you need to understand the principle that energy begets energy. What this means is that if you are smart with your energy management, it will ultimately yield even more energy for you.
On the reverse side, if you manage your energy poorly, then you will have low energy that just keeps getting lower.
Suppose, for example, that you wake up in the morning still feeling like you haven’t gotten enough sleep. You hit the snooze button a few times. Next thing you know you find yourself rushing around to get ready for work.
You bustle around and end up rushing out the door stressed. You get to work, a bit late or just under the wire.
Your work goes slower than you would like because you are feeling out of sorts, so you end up leaving late. You come home late feeling stressed. Saving time, you throw on a microwave meal. You plop in front of the TV and end up going to bed late.
Well, guess what? After that kind of day, you’re actually going to have even less energy tomorrow.
On the other hand, imagine that you wake up with feeling refreshed with lots of energy. Not rushing about to get ready, you get to work on time.
You work energetically yet efficiently and finish your work on time. So, you leave in time to fit in a workout before you prepare a tasty and nutritious dinner.
As a result, you sleep a lot better which helps generate even more energy for tomorrow.
To begin to take control of your energy, it’s important to start looking at energy as a finite quantity. You only have so much of it, so it needs to be managed intelligently.
In place of trying to fit everything into your schedule, you first should ask yourself, not if you have the time to fit something in, but rather whether you’re going to have the energy to fit that thing in.
This means, sometimes you’re going to have to turn down invitations to go out. If you always say yes to every after work invite for drinks and such, eventually you’ll run yourself into the ground. You’ll end up with no free evenings.
If you currently are a member of too many after work activities, it might be time to cut one of them back.
Similarly, remember that you can’t just work late and expect there to be no consequences. It catches up and you pay for it later with a slower morning tomorrow or a collapse into inactivity on the weekend. If you have to work late, maybe you’ve taken on too much work and need to scale back. If you find yourself working late every day, take a look at how you can better manage your energy during the day first to see if you can eliminate that need.
Keeping in mind the idea of your energy as finite, let’s take a look at some ways you may be able to plug up the energy drains in your day.
Stress is one of the biggest drains on our energy. Does your commute add to your stress?
Do you travel at a time when the roads, buses, trains, sidewalks etc. are jammed? Too many people or vehicles to maneuver through can leave you feeling frazzled?
Think about how you can adjust your commute routine to reduce the stress factor. In turn, this stress reduction will capture energy to direct into activities more beneficial for you.
How much time are you spending keeping up with the household chores? How much energy is being used up there?
One solution is to automate or outsource your chores. Can you hire someone to take some of the load off of your household chores?
These days. you can even avoid going to the supermarket. Amazon now has a service called Fresh where you can order your foods online and even choose the delivery time. Since, they now own Whole Foods that also means natural and organic foods are included as well.
Imagine how much time and stress that can shave off the week when you order during your break time and arrive home to find the groceries waiting for you or delivered shortly after you arrive home.
Additionally, you can automate re-orders with Amazon as well, if you know that you will be ordering something routinely from your supplements to your household cleaning items with Amazon’s Dash buttons.
Another, new service Amazon offers is deep cleaning or spring-cleaning services which even includes the insides of your oven, refrigerator and kitchen or bathroom cabinets. You select the service and can review the service selected with the cleaning pro when they arrive. Almost 13,000 reviews at the time of this writing with 81% 4 star or above (71% 5 star).
The key here is to think about ways you can either automate or outsource your routine chores to reduce the stress of household work and keep more energy for other things that advance your life in the most effective way for you.
Decision making taxes your energy? Serious productivity gurus actually avoid making decisions because they believe they use up too much energy to make really good one’s about the really important things.
Steve Jobs was a classic example. He wore the same black top and jeans every day so he didn’t have to stress over what he was going to wear. You don’t have to go this far but you can reduce your stress on these kind of issues with some advance planning.
For example, gather together what you need to wear for the week. Steam clean the wrinkles (assuming it is already washed and dried) out while you watching the TV or listening to a Kindle e-book on your Echo (A very useful feature I use nearly daily to accelerate learning by listening to a selected title.).
Once done, hang them up and there you go! No more decision making about what to wear for the week or where to find it. Another source of stress checked off the list.
Tip: Ask Alexa (your Echo) what the 7-day forecast is before you make your clothing selections for the week. This way you can match your clothing selections up to the weather forecast and not be caught off guard by overly hot, cold, snowy or rainy days.
E-mail at work (or even at home) is a big source of stress often chunking away parts of your day that can be better used for more productive, career advancing activities.
One solution– schedule your check-ins on email if you can. Instead of checking it every 5 minutes check it twice a day. Perhaps in the morning when you first begin the day and late afternoon or whatever works for your setting.
Sometimes you don’t have this option and must be aware of it during the day to receive specific job-related messages such as job tickets or orders etc.
You can resolve this issue by setting up alarms on your work or even personal phone for specific messages based on sender or subject.
Too much email perhaps? Set up your mail with rules that can send specific messages from specific senders to a specific folder on your folder tree. Go to these folders at your appointed times and run through them. Unread messages will appear in bold.
Like to shave down your Inbox or a specific folder? Sort the field by the From field and chunk out those messages you know you no longer need. Sorted by sender makes this easier because you will know who is important and who is not.
To mark for deletion in Outlook and delete a chunk together:
Isolate a chunk of time and work on this a few days and you will soon find your email box to be much more manageable, quicker and much less energy draining.
Hint: if deleting large batches, don’t select too many at a time or your Inbox will freeze up. Try 100 or less and see how it goes. Adjust up or down a bit to find your sweet spot. Once you get that number, you will be able to chunk out large batches without unnecessary delays.
In the next post, we’ll continue with ideas on managing your energy cycle taking into consideration the concepts of open loops and ebbs and flows.
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