Getting Things Done - GTD

Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time

AUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
tags Self-Improvement Stress-Free Focus Advice
"Productivity is the deliberate, strategic investment of your time, talent, intelligence, energy, resources, and opportunities in a manner calculated to move you measurably closer to meaningful goals." ~ Dan S. Kennedy

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Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time

The pandemic has accelerated some changes that were already taking place in society, albeit in a much slower way. Companies have had to digitize themselves by leaps and bounds to allow their employees to work from home, and workers have learned another way of living that, with its pros and cons, allows them to better reconcile work with their personal lives.

As a consequence, the percentage of home-based (or at least hybrid, some days at home and others at the office) job offers is increasing considerably. But are we prepared to manage our time effectively when no one does it for us? Are we able to organize ourselves well when the boundaries between leisure and work are blurring?

Today, more than ever, knowing how to organize ourselves is a key skill, not only to improve productivity at work, but also to get the most out of any context in our lives.

When you decide to take on the challenge of learning how to manage your life as effectively as possible, the first thing you must do is discard the hackneyed and misleading concept of “time management”. The amount of time you have is set, and it cannot be managed. What you can do is manage where you put your attention during that time to increase your performance at work and enjoy more of the activities and relationships that life provides.

A very important factor to take into account when choosing what activity you are going to dedicate your time to or where you are going to put your attention is the energy you are going to consume. When you incorporate into your planning the energy needed to carry out a task, you are more realistic with the expected result and this allows you to be more effective.

Making a phone call can be something simple and banal, or it can be something very complicated and exhausting when you need to explain to a client why something has not gone as expected. The conversation can require a great deal of emotional energy, as well as prior preparation of the data and arguments to be pointed out.

Think of energy as a limited resource, which is depleted when it is used. Habits and routine tasks consume little energy, but exceptions and certain one-time actions can consume a lot. If you don’t choose well where to use your energy, there will be important things left undone every day, and that often leads to frustration and stress.

You must take into account all types of energies. There are activities that consume physical energy, related to bodily activity; activities that consume mental energy, related to intellectual tasks; activities that consume emotional energy, related to your relationships with others; and activities that consume spiritual energy, related to your personal purpose.

If you need to find a way to manage yourself in a more productive way, forget about traditional time management. Look for methods that favor mindfulness and include energy as an organizational factor.

In GTD (acronym for the Getting Things Done methodology), one of the criteria you use to decide what is going to be your next action to perform is your energy level, in its broadest sense. Sometimes, your mood can determine your energy level. Don’t feel 100% to do a certain task? No problem, there are certainly other things you can do at 50%.

In reality, you just need your personal management system to allow you to indicate when an action requires little energy, so that when you are not in optimal condition you can quickly find such actions. Otherwise, you will have to scan your entire list of next actions to find which ones suit your circumstances, and that, paradoxically, can require considerable cognitive effort.

Your available energy is, by definition, your capacity to work. Think about how your energy levels are distributed throughout the day, and organize your day so that you can perform the tasks that require the most energy when you have the most energy. If you manage your energy well, you will improve your personal productivity.

Francisco Sáez

Francisco is the founder and CEO of FacileThings. He is also a Software Engineer who is passionate about personal productivity and the GTD philosophy as a means to a better life.

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