Search
  • Pamila Fonseka

Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time

Over the holidays I came across an old HBR article by Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy titled Manage your Energy, Not your Time. In this very unusual time of profound uncertainty, I thought this would be a timely article to share.


Schwartz is the founder and CEO of The Energy Project, where the guiding principle/ founding belief is that how people feel profoundly influences how they perform. And the work at the Energy Project is grounded in a simple, but counter-intuitive principle: the greater the demand, the greater the need to rest, reflect and renew.


According to Schwartz and McCarthy, time is a finite resource. However, energy, defined in physics as the capacity to work, can be regularly renewed and expanded by establishing specific rituals.


For us, energy comes from four main wellsprings: the body, emotions, mind, and spirit. Below is a list of actions you can take to increase your overall state of energy leading to resiliency and productivity.


Physical (Body) Energy

  • Enhance your sleep by setting an earlier bedtime and reducing alcohol use.

  • Reduce stress by engaging in cardiovascular activity at least three times a week and strength training at least once.

  • Eat small meals and light snacks every three hours.

  • Learn to notice signs of imminent energy flagging, including restlessness, yawning, hunger, and difficulty concentrating.

  • Take brief but regular breaks, away from your desk, at 90- to 120-minute intervals throughout the day.

Emotional Energy

  • Defuse negative emotions--irritability, impatience, anxiety, insecurity--through deep abdominal breathing.

  • Fuel positive emotions in yourself and others by regularly expressing appreciation to others in detailed, specific terms through notes, e-mails, calls, or conversations.

Mental Energy

  • Reduce interruptions by performing high-concentration tasks away from phones and e-mail.

  • Every night, identify the most important challenge for the next day. Then make it your first priority when you arrive at work in the morning.

Spiritual Energy

  • Identify your "sweet spot" activities--those that give you feelings of effectiveness, effortless absorption, and fulfillment. Find ways to do more of these. One executive who hated doing sales reports delegated them to someone who loved that activity.

  • Live your core values. For instance, if consideration is important to you but you're perpetually late for meetings, practice intentionally showing up five minutes early for meetings.