I know a lot of people who work really hard. I only know a few people who are successful. Hard work doesn’t always equate to success. It’s not a straight line causal relationship between work and results.
Decision fatigue is an important factor to plan your day around. How many decisions are you making in stress and fatigue which lead putting you in worse positions?
It’s been drilled heavy into our minds since we were young that you MUST work hard to become successful. This mindset has wasted a lot of people’s time and energy. If you only measure time as a way to increase efficiency, you will only burn yourself out because time is only one side of the coin. Your energy is finite and we must leverage it!
How I think about energy management:
When do you feel the most energized?
Your brain is the freshest in the morning. Plan all of your heavy thinking and creative work then. I like planning my day the night before so when I wake up, I know exactly what I’m doing first instead of using up thinking on energy and deciding on what I should do. Our brains really only get 4-5 hours of really productive energy, anything after this time period is dragging, so don’t waste it!
If you work a solid 8-5 job, but you have creative projects or personal work you would like to do outside of your day job, then look at times earlier than the start of your workday! By the end of the day, guaranteed, you’ll be too tired to produce great, creative work.
When do you feel the most tired?
I get physically and mentally tired right after lunch around 12PM-2PM. At this time, I typically plan for a run or workout. A piece of advice I follow from Katrina Cole, the COO of FOCUS Brands (Cinnabon, Jamba Juice, Moe’s), “ACT your way into better thinking, because it’s really hard to THINK your way into better actions”
Walking or doing light exercise during this time gets me into a not so tired thought process.
Assess Energy Killers
Do an assessment of your everyday tasks. What tasks do you have which involve more energy input than the output you receive? What involves a lot of thought, but only gives you minimal results? For example, I use to check emails regularly, but every time I check emails, it would create more tasks which lead to me doing more task management instead of working on tasks. I now only check my emails once in the morning and once in the afternoon. If someone needs to reach me immediately, they can Slack or text me. I’ve also minimized phone calls and meetings. #1 energy killer for me.
Passive Relaxing vs Active Restoration
Finally, relax and restore! Your time relaxing is just as important as your work. Some people have different ways of relaxing, but you NEED to know what relaxation activities are passive vs active restoration. Relaxing is more so about restoring the mind not necessarily the body especially if your work is involved heavily in thinking, creating, and managing. Passive relaxing looks like watching television, Youtube, or playing video games. It’s relaxing, but it’s not restorative to the mind. This puts your mind into a low-level consuming, busy activity. Active restoration looks like reading, meditating, writing/journaling, being outside or creating. This restores your mind through a non-rushed or non-hurried exploration of new ideas or self-awareness.
Last tip: Don’t only look at your work or day job schedule. Include your entire day, from waking up to going to bed. You’ll find high moments of energy there and energy killing activities around work as well.
Stop fretting over your hours and minutes and map out your energy! You’ll be more efficient and feel more confident in the day!