You’re busy. I get it. You have a packed schedule.
You know the funny thing about time? It’s finite and limited. You aren’t going to get the minutes back that it takes you to read this blog post. It’s also highly unlikely that tomorrow has more hours in it than today.
As a result, you plan your time.
We have to plan in order to be efficient. We need to block out chunks of our day and dedicate it to meetings or phone calls or soccer practice. We live and die by the minute-hand on a watch.
Time is money.
If we schedule our time to conquer our day in the most efficient way possible, we should be more successful, right? Shouldn’t we be more productive overall and lead a healthier, happier life?
For the day to day grind, I work a highly “scheduled” job as a personal trainer. Each hour is dedicated to a client or group of clients. That’s their hour with me so they should get my full attention the entire time. When the hour hits, I’ll likely need to direct my attention towards someone else. Intermixed with clients, I also have dedicated time set aside towards planning, programming, and lead generation. All of this scheduling sounds like it would make me the king of being productive.
It’s left me exhausted. Sure, I’m productive. My clients show up on time. They get their workout in, and we have a good time. But, I began to realize that I was drained at the end of the day. So, I started thinking about what piece I was missing. I was eating a healthy diet, sleeping enough, working out regularly, and altogether feeling great.
I was managing my time to a “T”.
Here’s the thing about only managing time: it assumes that each aspect of your day, each appointment, practice, and meeting, requires the same amount of resources from you. Each appointment demands the same amount of energy as the next.
That’s the missing link. I wasn’t planning out my energy.
Every aspect of your day is likely separate from the others. In my case, different scenarios require different outputs from me. If I’m training a group, I need to be a little bit more hyped up than for one-on-one training. Entertaining a crowd for an hour takes a lot more than entertaining a singular person.
Managing time without taking energy into account is identical to planning a trip without considering how much gas you have in the tank. The trip might turn out okay, but you might run out of gas halfway to your destination.
Managing time is a necessity in the world we live in. It’s highly unlikely that everyone ditches their watches tomorrow, and your boss tells you to show up whenever you want. But, we can take the next step and manage our energy better.
Step 1: Figure out what demands your energy.
Identify events in your calendar as either low, medium, or high energy requirement. For instance, leading a meeting would normally be defined as a medium to high requirement while answering e-mails would be low.
Step 2: Portion out your energy.
Don’t plan more than three high energy requirements in a row. That’s my limit. You may have a different number. It depends on the person and your tolerance level. I know that if I commit to over three high energy sessions in a row, my patience decreases, and I don’t provide the same level of service.
Step 3: Gauge your levels
Evaluate your energy from day to day. If you aren’t feeling up to it, move your schedule around if it allows or postpone big ticket items. Your performance will be much better if you wait until you have the energy in the tank.
Step 4: Learn to say no
For anyone working a job that equates time and money (service related or hourly related), the temptation is that more is always better. As you would guess by now, that’s not true. Taking on more work demands more energy and therefore takes away from the energy you’re directing towards other projects.
Always doing as much as possible is going to lead to burnout at some point. Trust me.
These steps don’t just stop at the office. It’s possible to organize much of your daily life around this concept. Quick example, the past few months, I’ve been approaching writing without any kind of time or energy management. I’d wake up, start writing, stop when I had to, and pick it up after work. I quickly realized that the quality of my writing was greatly decreased. Sure, I was splattering words onto a page, but that doesn’t matter if they aren’t clear, concise, and coherent.
So, I started scheduling my time and energy more effectively. Here’s my morning schedule:
5:30AM Wake-up – Drink a glass of water and grab some coffee
5:45AM Social Media round-up – If you want to get better at social media, it takes time and work. Yes, you can be “good” at Facebook.
6:15AM Write – I plan out articles on Saturday that I want to write throughout the week. Each article gets a day of writing.
8:00AM Stop – No matter where I am in the article, I stop and eat breakfast. This coincides with my girlfriend waking up and I get to spend some time with her before she leaves for work.
9:30AM E-mail – Answer and send out e-mails or inquiries.
10:00AM Edit – I look over the articles from the previous day. Edit, rewrite, and get them ready to go out.
11:00AM Done – Get ready to head to work and train some peeps.
10:00PM Plan out next day
With the exception of some article deadlines, I’ve been much more energized throughout the day. The old me would have stayed up until the wee hours of the night writing. Now, I make a to-do list and plan things out to be productive for the following day. The only exception is when a huge project demands my time.
So, I challenge you to look at your day as a series of energy allocations. You have a finite amount to start. Plan out your day based on the energy requirements and watch yourself feel better and be productive.