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Home > Blog > What's Better: Time Management or Energy Management?
Out of Our Minds
Tuesday, April 25, 2006 9:31 PM
What's Better: Time Management or Energy Management?
Anita Sharpe on Life

One of the best parts about co-founding Worthwhile magazine has been meeting inspiring people virtually every day. Today's inspiration was Jim Huling, CEO of the IT services company, Matrix Resources.  I nearly ran out of paper jotting down his thoughts over lunch today. One of my favorites is his concept of energy management, which he believes is more vital than time management. Here's the gist: let's say you have a key meeting at 4 p.m., which is going to require a lot of focus and energy -- a "level 10" energy event. But your energy has been depleted throughout the day with unimportant interruptions, inter-office politics, etc. By the time you get to your 4:00, you don't bring nearly enough energy, so you basically default on your commitment. The solution: ruthlessly manage your energy during the day.
What drains your energy? (In my case, the top three are long meetings, high-maintenance people and administrivia.)
What increases your energy? (For me, it's listening to music, going for a bike ride and meeting with inspiring people like Jim Huling.)


Monica Ricci - 5/7/2006 10:58:02 AM
There is no such thing as time management. We can only manage ourselves in relation to the passing of time. I prefer to call it time allocation, and the concept of energy management goes right along with it. Roadblocks to productivity (interruptions, drama, administrivia, etc) are absolute drains on energy. It takes the strength to draw boundaries to insulate yourself from them as much as possible, and clear communication to help reduce and eliminate them. As for what increases my energy, it's a few things... sometimes it's just shifting my focus to something different for a few minutes, reading a paragraph out of a Jack Canfield book, or doing some physical movement. Going for a short brisk walk, or even doing some in place lunges will get my blood moving and oxygen in my lungs, so I feel refreshed. ~Monica
Stephanie - 5/1/2006 10:43:56 AM
I have found that one of the best ways to conserve and gain energy is to use my innate strengths and talents -- those which come naturally and easily to me. If I only am using my skills (picked up through experience and training) I lose energy. A good book about this is _Don't Waste Your Talent_ by McDonald and Hutcheson. Good conversation. Thanks.
Aaron Minnick - 4/28/2006 11:45:45 AM
Great book on this subject: The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal (Free Press, 2003). The author's central premise is that we can be more effective by managing our energy like sprinters (short periods of intense effort followed by rest/recharge) than as marathoners (long stretches of continuous exertion). Interesting book and very relevant to this discussion.
Nick - 4/27/2006 8:14:33 PM
When 2 or more people get together there will always be politics and gossip. There will always be the "drainers". I agree that we need to find ways to dea, but why waste your energy on them. Taking about "them" is what I call bad energy management.
Dixon - 4/27/2006 6:48:15 AM
This really is a good discussion. A challenge to the Worthwhile community, I believe, is to gently but persistently attack the energy drain propigated by negative people, office politics, micromanagement, administrivia, and all that stuff. For heaven's sake -- instead of taking a walk or listening to music when colleagues or policies get us down, why don't we speak up honestly in the workplace? Recently I began advocating at my company for investing a large amount of money in a marketing initiative I feel will dramatically change our position. Some of the people I have pitched it to internally have been debilitating naysayers. Years ago, before reading Worthwhile or participating in this discussion, I probably would have silently dismissed these coworkers (and, ahem, bosses) of lacking vision, being small-minded, or worse. I can't live -- or work -- that way any more. I invite respectful and honest disagreement in my work now. I want to know where everybody stands. I am more willing to listen and give my colleagues the benefit of the doubt. I'd like to say that I've successfully sold my idea on the marketing initiative, but I'm actually still working on it. I may or not ultimately be successful, but I am certainly in a better place now that I invite and encourage honest and constructive discussion rather than allowing myself to believe that colleagues who disagree, require more time to consider, or are silent are saboteurs who zap my energy.
anita - 4/26/2006 9:32:48 PM
Such great comments! Yes -- we need to do something on this in the next issue. Any other great books to recommend?
Eric - 4/26/2006 2:50:01 PM
A book that had a profound influence on me is, "Become An Energy Addict," by Jon Gordon. It offers more than 100 easy ways to create and focus your energy with action steps at the end of each chapter. I think it's quite unnatural to spend so much of the day sitting in front of computers, in offices, or in meetings. I believe we're meant to be in motion. However, through a self-audit you can really learn how your energy cycles. I have definitely come to realize that my energy is at its lowest from 4-6 p.m. most days. It's the time I need to be alone to focus and re-energize. Once I recognized it, it did wonders in how I organize my day.
Jay Rutkowski - 4/26/2006 12:41:49 PM
So, so true! The great energy drain. Meditation can be a life saver here. Just 20 minutes of good alpha time can bring about a total rejuvenation. Try it. You'll like it.
Whitney - 4/26/2006 11:56:07 AM
You and Huling raise an important-but-often-overlooked point -- energy management. It wasn't until my last job went downhill -- persistent office politics, micromanagement, negative people, and persistently unrealistic deadlines -- that I understood the concepts of "energy" and "psychic and karmic toxicity."

I re-energize by walking. (When I met Garrison Keillor last year, he talked about how writers should "stay close to the ground" by walking for three or four hours a day. Can't always spend three hours walking, but he makes a good point about finding ways to "stay close to the ground.") Fur therapy (read: pets) is an excellent way to unwind. I get several reality checks a week through the Worthwhile blog and Curt Rosengren's Passion Catalyst blog, and additional energy through reading (Worthwhile, "The New Yorker" fiction issues, a wide assortment of books).

This is a great topic, Anita, and I hope we see an article on it in the next issue. (nudge nudge)
Aizal - 4/26/2006 12:56:40 AM
I think, if we really want to increase our energy is we have to get back to the basic - increase our stamina.;-)
Phil Gerbyshak - 4/26/2006 12:02:46 AM
Great question and great suggestion. My energy suckers are negative people and micromanagers. I get energy from connecting with friends, exercising, and reading a good book or magazine (Worthwhile, Fast Company, Strategy+Business, and Inc., in that order). Keep up the great work on the magazine and on the blog!


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