Today, as the title says, I want to talk about the importance of energy management over time management.
Why? Because in our society, time management is usually considered more important since time is finite and limited. So we have to make the most of it. And I agree with that.
But I don’t agree with the fact that time is more important than our energy. To illustrate my point, let me ask you a question: how many times have you perfectly planned your day and managed your time, only to find yourself completely exhausted during the afternoon and incapable of seeing your perfect plan through because of your tiredness?
Time, of course, is a precious resource, and we shouldn’t waste it. But what good is time if we don’t have the energy to make the most of it?
That’s why I think that energy management is more important than time management: we need energy to use our time. Plus, contrary to time, energy is a renewable and even expandable resource. You can replenish your energy when it’s diminishing. But you can never replenish time.
So how do you better manage your energy?
The Four Types of Energy
First of all, energy is multi-faceted. There isn’t just one type of energy. According to Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, there are four types of energy: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual (2005).
All four are essential and “none is sufficient by itself and each profoundly influences the others. To perform at our best, we must skillfully manage each of these interconnected dimensions of energy” (Loehr and Schwartz, 2005).
So how can we better manage each of these four types of energy?
It’s nothing groundbreaking and you probably already know most — if not all — of it, but the question is: do you do it regularly?
Get enough sleep
Stay hydrated throughout the day
Eat healthy and nourishing foods
Do physical activity regularly (both strength and cardiovascular training)
Manage negative emotions (frustration, anger, fear, sadness, etc.) and try to return to positive emotions as quickly as possible
Do activities that you find enjoyable and emotionally nourishing (ex. singing, dancing, reading, playing a sport, spending quiet time alone to reflect, etc.) and make them a priority
Develop and maintain healthy relationships
Work on your self-confidence, your self-esteem, and your limiting beliefs
Practice realistic optimism, i.e. “seeing the world as it is, but always working positively towards a desired outcome or solution” (Loehr and Schwartz, 2005)
Take regular breaks from your work (at least once every 90 to 120 minutes)
Do physical activity regularly
Keep learning new things and challenging your brain
Practice positive self-talk
Practice creative activities
Learn to determine your priorities and use your time efficiently
Spirituality is not intended here in a religious way, but rather as feeling a connection to something bigger than ourselves and to our deepest values.
Determine your most important values and try to live by them as often as possible
Clearly define your vision, your dream life
Act from a sense of purpose and passion as much as possible
Do good to others
Take good care of ourselves
Practice activities that help renew your spiritual energy: walking in nature, listening to music, reading an inspirational book or listening to an inspirational talk, meditating, praying, reflecting on your vision, your why, and your values, doing voluntary work, etc.
Linearity Versus Cyclicality
Also, we must keep in mind that the quantity and the quality of our energy diminish if it’s overused, but also if it’s underused. So it’s important to balance energy use with frequent energy renewal to maintain our energy levels steady, and this, in all four energy types.
That’s why rest and breaks shouldn’t be seen as rewards for being productive, but as integral parts of productivity. They are crucial to help us stay fully energized, but also happy, motivated, and passionate about what we do!
If we maintain the linear view our society has, striving to be productive all the time and not encouraging rest, we only set ourselves up for burnout, depression, and sickness.
So we have to live a more cyclical life, a life where there is more balance between the four different types of energy, but also between action and rest.
And this is something our body does naturally — if we listen to it. We are fundamentally cyclical beings. Our whole body functions thanks to cycles: our breath, heart rate, waking and sleeping patterns, the different hormones in our body, everything is cyclical!
Our body tells us when it needs to rest and when it needs to be active. It tells us when we’re primed to use our physical energy and our mental energy. You just have to learn to listen to it and act accordingly.
How can you do that? By learning to know your own cycles better! The two easiest ones to observe are your chronotype (daily cycle) and your menstrual cycle (weekly and monthly cycle).
I’ve created two workbooks to help you discover them and learn how to use them to become more productive while respecting your body and its need to rest periodically.
You can access both in the Zenly Organized Library:
I hope these tips will help you accomplish more without burning yourself out!
I wish you a zenly organized week,
Loehr, J. and Schwartz, T. (2005). The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal.