We all long for better time management techniques, whether working from home, in office or not at all. This article will help you shift your time management perspective into a more flexible state. Hint: it’s not so much about time but about energy!
I. Time Management is a Result of Energy Management
Can you imagine a day where, instead of managing your time, you instead manage your energy?
That’s right… a practical time management technique is to manage your energy instead of (or in addition to) your time. Picture yourself focusing on your current state of energy:
- Am I feeling overwhelmed right now, what can I do for instant impact?
- How can I take 10 minutes to decompress and relieve tension?
- Based on my energy today, do I need to give myself permission to do the minimum?
- How can I implement a quick pick-me-up besides using drugs or caffeine?
There are a few reasons it can be extremely helpful to focus on your current state of energy. First, there are tips and suggestions you can try if you’d like a short burst of energy to get ready for an upcoming engagement (see section III). Second, too often we chronically push ourselves past our energy limits, evoking fatigue, burnout or worse. It is wise to be cognizant of your energy levels and to try and exert them accordingly.
Next, let us define 3 main types of energy we need daily.
II. Three Required Energies for Functional Living
The three basic types of energy we require for healthy functioning are physical energy, emotional and mental energy.
Physical energy is, of course, affected by our self-care routines: sleep, nutrition (or lack thereof) and exercise. No surprises there. Yet our physical energy can become grossly neglected. Adequate sleep is one of the best things you can do for your brain and your health. However, I fear many people justify the fact that their sleep can suffer in the name of work.
The form of physical energy we don’t tend to think about – levels of fight/flight/freeze states. Too much of these states can drain your physical energy as though it were a battery. Pause and ask yourself: “Do I tend to live in a fight, flight or freeze zone too often?”
Next is emotional energy, which is simply tuning into your emotions in the moment. Your emotions are, at a very basic level, nothing more than an arrangement of body tissues inside of you. They can never harm us, as much as they may suck!
It is critical to be in tune with your emotions because they are one of the most influential driving forces behind your actions and behaviors.
Last is mental energy. Mental energy is not as easy to grasp as the other two; but it is a skill you can build. Mental energy refers to the useful ability to separate yourself from your thoughts.
In other words, you are not your thoughts. For example, you might wish ill will on someone and then feel guilty later. Or, maybe you convince yourself you’re not deserving of someone or something. The skill of applying mental energy will allow you to recognize that thoughts are not truths.
One of my favorite leadership experts, Cy Wakeman, states in her book No Ego, “you are not your thoughts. They aren’t you until you give them your agreement and belief.”
III. Time Management Techniques
To boost your physical energy, here are a few things to try with an open mind. Other than the obvious (proper sleep, nutrition, exercise) try meditation, guided yoga nidra, praying, practicing mindfulness, and breathing techniques.
For an emotional energy boost try the practice of shifting your mindset. Instead of thinking about current stress or upcoming deadlines, reserve 10 minutes to access your memory. This takes some thought work. Switch your mode of thinking, dig deep in your brain and access: positive memories about positive results, spectacular outcomes, uplifting experiences, breakthroughs you made, good feedback you received, excellent advice from a mentor, etc.
To strengthen your mental energy, answer a series of questions (and answer honestly): “What do I know right now for sure? What is it I truly believe? Is this belief serving me well or holding me back? How can I redirect my brain to believe something that will move me forward positively? What does it look like for me to be great right now?”
The above time management techniques are meant to help you understand how to recognize and channel your energy levels for optimal living. See this First Round Review article for more.
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