Leaders Unplugged – Manage Your Energy, Not Time

By April 29, 2020 No Comments

In modern times, leaders are burnt out and living overscheduled lifestyles. Stuck in a cycle of overwhelm, never accomplishing enough, and living in acceptance that this is the way life is. People are drained, emotionally exhausted and stressed. Many women tell themselves to “suck it up, princess” rather than rest and reassess.

Often people are redirected to manage your time better, prioritise, make better to-do lists, delegate unnecessary tasks and then when you find the extra hour, you fill it up with some other task. Time is not what we should be tracking. Instead, you need to manage your energy.

Time is inevitable, infinite and unchanging. You schedule your day around timed activities, plan dates with friends and measure your knowledge based on the amount of time that you have been doing something. Yet many people focus on time management to only ever spend numerous hours doing projects and spending little time on themselves.

In a culture of ever-constant burnout, it’s time to shift our focus from managing time to managing energy. Let me share with you 8 tips on how to transcend the time management myth to boost your energy.

Build awareness

To create a shift in thinking requires you to build awareness of your energy. Asking yourself quality questions to expand your thinking – Identifying what drains you the most? What activities increase your energy? What contributes to a life worth living?

When you have a clear picture of what the picture looks like, you are in a better position to appreciate the activities that elevate your energy or what sucks the energy out of you. Self-reflection is the key to gain clarity and the platform to make different choices.

Identify your natural high energy

You will have a favourite time of the day where your energy levels feel effortless. Some limitless energy in the morning whereas others come to life after lunch. The key is to identify your highest energy levels and exploit them.

Unplug from work

The Harvard Business Review tackled the topic of energy management back in 2007. Eleven years later, their words still ring true. Altering the course of your energy, especially when depletion is on the cards and burnout around the corner. When you can recognize the costs of energy depletion behaviours, you can change them.

Refocusing your energy by practising de-stressing activities such as meditation, yoga or going for a walk creates a space for you to unplug and feel rejuvenated. Developing rituals before and after work creates a preventative energy strategy that when you need to intently focus your energy on a project, your energy can be sustained long term.

Be present in the moment

Presence is the key to building strong relationships as a true connection only happens when you give your full attention to others. When you let go of the multitasking attitude and break free from technological distractions, you are more likely to experience a state of flow. Incorporate practices such as mindfulness, meditation or yoga that nurture being in the moment.

Relearn the basics of taking care of yourself

Adequate sleep, healthy food, exercise and deep breathing are the necessities of life. In today’s modern world, people move from stressor to stressor, not allowing their bodies to calm naturally for repair and healing. Bodies remain in a constant state of tension, rather than in a practice of deliberate calm. Calm and energy intertwined create productive work and happy life. Rest and free time create moments for new ideas to come to the surface. Inspiration strikes in moments of idleness.

Lead the way with compassion

Self-compassion inspires you to learn from failures and try again. Self-compassion gives you the energy to progress forward. Self-compassionate people have less anxiety and stress, exhibit more curiosity, creativity and will power. In today’s workplaces, compassion is the driving force that connects people. A go-giver attitude, clear boundaries create a compassionate culture, happier and more productive people. When you do the hard work of cultivating qualities that nurture compassionate environments, the chains of stress and overwork start to break down.

Manage your focus

Instead of taking action, people delude themselves into a false sense of achievement as time is invested in planning the day with a time-management calendar or app. Time is wasted as you spend all your time planning, reading and plotting to manage your time. Ultimately the only thing that really matters is execution. Consistent action, to produce real results.

One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is creating rituals that match your peak energy. The most successful entrepreneurs created rituals to maximize their energy opportunities. Warren Buffet wakes up at 6.45 am and spends 80% of his day reading. Richard Branson wakes at 5 am, exercises and spend time with his family first thing in the morning. Oprah begins and ends her day with stillness.

Successful people execute habitually when their energy levels are at their peak. This creates a platform where they don’t manage their time, they allow themselves to perform consistently at their best.

Humans are not robots

Human factors drive productivity, not traditional time management practices. Humans cannot perform efficiently and perfectly 24/7. We are not machines or robots. When you invest your energy into scheduling your most important activities around your highest energy levels, book in regular downtime and create rituals that you stick to religiously, you are leading you. Manage your energy, not your time.

Going against the grain can be challenging. It requires creativity, a willingness to explore and reshape the systems that we operate in. If more people start to reclaim their energy, new realities are created, and new visions are brought to life. Isn’t time? If not now, when? If not you, who?

As first published in Leaders In Heels