Time Management vs Energy Management

How to manage your energy levels to achieve more and enjoy more

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Is it better to manage your time or energy?

Maybe you already manage your time well but feel overwhelmed and tired all the time? Maybe you are productive, but think you could have a better work-life balance, improve your wellbeing, exercise more, have more time for your family or just enjoy your work more? This is what energy management is all about.

In this article you will find out how you can use your natural daily rhythm to work better, more easily, with more joy and even improve your relationships by improved energy management. Here I show how you can work to the best of your abilities without pushing yourself to the limits and how you can get things done, while looking after your wellbeing.

Energy management and time management compared

Energy management or time management – which is more effective? 

Time management

Time management is a traditional approach to increasing productivity. It’s focused on getting more done in less time. Although it can improve your efficiency, managing your time better has its limits and doesn’t necessarily contribute to improving your wellbeing and work enjoyment. Pushing yourself to do more can cause overwhelm, burnout and isn’t sustainable long-term. Form me time management is the thing of the past. I’d rather focus on a holistic optimisation of my wellbeing in all areas of life and getting things done along the way. 

Energy management

Energy management takes advantage of using your natural ability to work on different type of tasks at different times. It’s not only more focused on your individual daily cycle in order to increase your productivity and quality of performance, but also allows you to work, exercise and socialise when you most feel like doing it. That’s how you can live a more enjoyable and fulfilled life. 

Energy management focuses on identifying what type of energy is required to accomplish a task and which time of the day is the best for you to do it. 

To be at your best, depending on your mental, physical and social energy levels, you can decide on your daily schedule and time-block different activities. 

Manage your energy, not time

Why energy management matters more than time management

Performing specific tasks at the time of day which is right for you, allows you to work with the least effort, produce higher quality of work and gives you more fulfilment. This approach considers your downtime as productive time, helps you time-block activities with breaks in between, so you don’t finish the day exhausted. 

How the time of day influences your productivity

We are all different, some of us go for a run first thing in the morning, others take a while to get up to speed.

Below are the times when specific energy types are high or low. It may not apply to your individual case, but for most people this is when mental, physical and social energy is at its peak. If this doesn’t apply to you, it can at least give you an idea what to look at to find your best times.

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The Miracle Morning Routine

Morning energy (9 am – 12 pm)

For most of us mornings are the best time for any mental activity: analytical, problem solving, learning, decision taking and other tasks requiring lots of brain power. 

This time of day is not necessarily best for exercise or physical labour. 

Mid-day energy (12 pm – 2 pm)

Most of us maintain the sharpness of mind throughout mid-day, while our verbal abilities increase. That’s why this time of day is good for meetings and presentations, where you need to think quickly, be eloquent and responsive. 

Afternoon energy (2 pm – 6 pm)

While mental alertness and concentration declines in the afternoon, coordination and precision of movement improves. This is the best time for doing sports or physical work, especially all the activities which require precision. 

Remember about taking brakes between the time blocks to rest and get into the zone of the different energy type. 

My own example

When I found out about the fluctuations in different energy types throughout the day, it all started to make sense. My daily rhythm is close to the above, however not being a morning person, I feel more sociable later in the afternoon and in the evening. My physical energy starts kicking in around 4 pm remaining high till late.

For instance, knowing my best times for social and verbal tasks, if I need to have a difficult conversation, I plan it in the afternoon. When in the past I used to follow the ‘eat that frog first’ approach, I would procrastinate and put off activates scheduled at the wrong time. My mornings are for learning and mental activity, with the most challenging thinking or decision-taking tasks between 10 am and 2 pm. Afternoons and evening are my people time and physical activity time. 

If you feel curious about your own best times, you probably want to find out when they are. Here is how.

How to measure your energy by type?

To find your best times and work along your natural rhythm, you need to measure your energy levels and types of energy during the day. How to do it?

A two-week energy audit – find your natural highs and lows

For two weeks set an hourly timer and record your energy at every hour of the day. On a piece of paper write the types of energy you want to measure, e. g.:

  • mental / focus
  • physical
  • social
  • creative

Every hour give each energy type a score from 0 to 10. Also, when recording, think what you really feel like doing, what would you enjoy doing at that time and base your score on that. 

Energy is flexible

It’s worth mentioning that although you will have the best times and energy peaks, these things are not set in stone. Your energy is flexible, it may change between days, seasons or with your age and may depend on many different factors. So keep watching and reviewing it. 

Final notes

I hope this helps you tap into your natural energy levels, maintain it for longer, have more fun in all areas of life and improve your wellbeing. 

Do you think you could apply this approach to your team? Would it help them to be happier beings and better employees? Could this improve your business results? 

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