I’m a big believer that our two primary constraints to progress are time and energy. Of course, we need to be physically and mentally healthy to manage them well, but based on how you manage your time and energy, you also reap the benefit of better overall wellness, reinforced through a positive feedback loop.
With that said, (yet another) HBR article “Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time” by Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy is a good one to understand the framework on how to manage your personal energy well.
Here’s an excerpt from the article on renewing the four dimensions of your personal energy and I found them to be quite helpful:
- Enhance your sleep by setting an earlier bedtime and reducing alcohol use.
- Reduce stress by engaging in cardiovascular activity at least three times a week and strength training at least once.
- Eat small meals and light snacks every three hours.
- Learn to notice signs of imminent energy flagging, including restlessness, yawning, hunger, and difficulty concentrating.
- Take brief but regular breaks, away from your desk, at 90- to 120-minute intervals throughout the day.
- Defuse negative emotions—irritability, impatience, anxiety, insecurity—through deep abdominal breathing.
- Fuel positive emotions in yourself and others by regularly expressing appreciation to others in detailed, specific terms through notes, e-mails, calls, or conversations.
- Look at upsetting situations through new lenses. Adopt a “reverse lens” to ask, “What would the other person in this conflict say, and how might he be right?” Use a “long lens” to ask, “How will I likely view this situation in six months?” Employ a “wide lens” to ask, “How can I grow and learn from this situation?”
- Reduce interruptions by performing high concentration tasks away from phones and e-mail.
- Respond to voice mails and e-mails at designated times during the day.
- Every night, identify the most important challenge for the next day. Then make it your first priority when you arrive at work in the morning.
- Identify your “sweet spot” activities—those that give you feelings of effectiveness, effortless absorption, and fulfillment. Find ways to do more of these. One executive who hated doing sales reports delegated them to someone who loved that activity.
- Allocate time and energy to what you consider most important. For example, spend the last 20 minutes of your evening commute relaxing, so you can connect with your family once you’re home.
- Live your core values. For instance, if consideration is important to you but you’re perpetually late for meetings, practice intentionally showing up five minutes early for meetings.
HOW COMPANIES CAN HELP
To support energy renewal rituals in your firm:
- Build “renewal rooms” where people can go to relax and refuel.
- Subsidize gym memberships.
- Encourage managers to gather employees for midday workouts.
- Suggest that people stop checking e-mails during meetings.
I’ve started applying some of the best practices here, have considerably cutdown my alcohol consumption (physical), started measuring my sleep quality through wearables (physical), exercise at least 30 minutes a day (physical), expressing appreciation to others more often (emotional), focusing on priority goals without distractions (mental), created routines to ensure I’m doing a bit of “sweet spot” work everyday (spiritual), and also defined Family Core Values (spiritual).
We also have boosted wellness benefit as part of our company’s benefit program to enable the team to stay healthy and energized.
Throughout this implementation of series of changes, I’ve noticed my days have felt a lot more effective and fulfilled, and although I’m having even more meetings and getting more things done, I’m left with a bit more positive energy than I used to, so wanted to share the above article/excerpt here!