Rule #9 Manage your energy, instead of your time

In truth you cannot manage time. We can get into that debate here, but that would take a series of books for me to win the debate, so this blog entry will have to do.  Image

Read Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman and then get back to me about being able to manage time.

However, managing your energy is possible, practical and necessary for any successful person.  If you have taken a Myers-Briggs or a DISC test you will know something about what interactions give and take energy from you.  Highly extroverted people actually gain energy from people interactions and the reverse for introverts.  Not exactly, but I have seen it so I will let that statement just be.

I am a hybrid.  I find that I get juiced from certain interactions like my presenting to a group, meeting new people, going somewhere new, but get drained after about 2 hours mingling at a party or a trade show.  Sit me down at a poker table and I will play all night, but have me sit in a meeting room reviewing business performance and I need enough caffeine to power a small college campus to stay awake.   Image

So, as a leader in your organization recognize that time management is a myth.  Not that there are not efficiencies that can be gained with creating a daily task list driving to your personal and corporate goals, but realize that if you have your team attend a 4 hour training session on a new technology or process, they will not be highly effective for a couple of hours after the training.   

However, if you let half that team take a long walk (those who are prone to exercise and group activities) and the other half (those who like to be alone) let them sit quietly reading and/or listening to music without having to answer the phone, email or IM for say two hours, you will see an amazing amount of activity both in quality and quantity in the last two hours of the day.   

Yes, there are Harvard Business articles and books on managing  your energy and not your time.  They cover the topic much better than I from a technical perspective.  Here we will take a departure from the managing your individual energy for my mini rant about the USA’s time allotment to work each year and European countries.

Simple put – the US is just nuts and dumb having both a culture and in most workplaces an expectation that 50 to 80 hours of work per week, 16 holiday’s and 10 days personal time is a good idea.   

Yes, we are nuts and dumb.  Stupid and crazy for thinking in any way that this is in any way effective, never mind efficient.

Putting it into context of managing your energy, instead of your time.

In comparison, an average European country will have a work week of 35 to 45 hours, 29 holidays and 15 to 20 days personal time per year.  If the US’s method was superior we should be just outpacing Europe at 1.5 to 1 at minimum in productions, innovation, and average business and economic performance.

It is not happening.

The only result is shorter and less happy life spans – purely my anecdotal evaluation.

Mini rant is over.

In the end, you have to think of how best your energy flows through a day and plan your work accordingly.

I am best first thing early in the morning, just after noon and then between 4pm and 6pm most days.  So, I plan most of my work on those hours and put breaks of exercise and relaxation activities in between.

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Rule #6 Spend more time in other people’s offices and cubicles than your own

Spend more time in other people’s offices and cubicles than your own, especially between 9 and 4pm.

This is a simple rule that we all get caught up in when we have in our mind a ‘major’

  • report
  • presentation
  • budget
  • performance reviews
  • contract to review
  • project plan
  • etc…

to do and we virtually lock ourselves in our office for the entire day.

 

 

The door may be open to comply with your open door policy, but your body language indicates to those people who come to you for     

  • advice
  • help
  • direction
  • approval
  • etc…

that the door may be open, but you are closed for business today.

We have that work to do that requires focus, but it should not be for the entire day.

Use good time management practices of working on that ‘major’ thing first thing in the morning for 15, 30, or 60 minutes and then stop.


Meet with the people you need to collaborate with, but out of your office. Your team needs to see you each and every day you are in the office.

  • Check on that project status.
  • Give a high five for that customer who was satisfied because that person went above and beyond
  • Give a head slap to that person who has falling behind or not giving the effort needed
  • Take the temperature of the group
  • Check in with a peer on how that trip they just returned from went

Then, get back to the office for another 15, 30, or 60 minutes on the ‘major’ effort.

Your are part of a team, you need to be with the team (your area, your peers area, the company as a whole).