Time management is a myth. We are often exhausted by the end of the day, let alone by the end of the week, wondering how the month went by so quickly. With the demands on our time, we flit from activity to activity, just barely keeping up with it all. Then there are the multiple proverbial fires that must be extinguished and we ride out the day on adrenaline fumes.
Enough. When have we ceded control entirely to someone else or to little colorful blocks on our calendar? When have we forgotten that we have the power to decide how we will live? And whether that is enough for us? We are neither robots nor machines. We live. We love. We make mistakes. We get up again.
What we long for isn’t time. But the energy to do the things we really love to do.
Enter energy management. Energy is quite literally our life force. Like tending a fire, we must decide how to fuel it, how to tend it and when to let the coals smolder along giving us heat and life.
Time has external boundaries. In other words, we chunk it up in colorful squares on our calendar – organizing and arguably defining our life this way. Which is a great way to stay organized. Just not at the expense of our health or well-being.
What we know about energy is that it can be strong or weak enough to move boundaries. For example, ever been deep in a conversation and not noticed the time? Or so focused on a task that reminder bells are ignored? Or conversely, so depleted of energy, it is hard to get up in the morning or efficiently focus on a task?
This is why it is energy management that is so important. It looks at our energy flow.
It begins with asking the questions, quite literally, about what gives us energy. What nourishes our minds, our spirit, our bodies, our emotions? Do we put too much energy into things that deplete us? For example, dealing with a failed sump pump and 3 inches of water in the basement, or arguing co-workers, or a non-profit or project we no longer feel connected to. Or do we put energy into things that feed us? Examples include an executive team that is recreating how they think about maximizing their leadership effectiveness, or Friday movie nights with the kids, or walks around the lake with a significant other. Then we look at how we use our energy flow on any given day.
Obviously, there are times we have to do things we do not want or like to do. And there are times when we have to do too much of something we normally enjoy. That is okay from time to time. However, if we are always going all out in our energy – and depleting it – then we risk burnout and possibly feeling victim to our circumstances or job descriptions.
What this means is we must redesign. Constantly. Talk to your boss or your co-workers about designing how you work together. See how you can leverage your energy flow when you are physically or mentally or emotionally at your best.
The point here is to take responsibility for your energy. Revisit and come back to it over and over again. Acknowledge and work on the impact of your choices with loved ones and co-workers. Design and redesign so that you maximize your energy to do the good work you wish to do.
We won’t do it perfectly. In fact, we will get tired and exhausted. But we will also know that we GET to choose. We will know how we will need to care for ourselves. We also know how we might choose to optimize our energy flow. And forgive ourselves when we don’t