When it comes to being more productive, you’ll see a lot of tips about time management.
But have you noticed that managing your time doesn’t always do the trick?
For example, can you recall the last time you weren’t very productive even though you created a to-do list, prioritized the most important tasks, and scheduled time to do them?
Instead of working, you found yourself looking for distractions and before you knew it, you were on Instagram scrolling endlessly.
So why is it that we still struggle to get things done even though we know what we need to do and have enough time to do it?!
The problem is that we need to manage our energy, NOT our time. Somewhere along the way we picked up this idea that we must manage our time like we do our money.
But the difference between time and money is that no matter how you budget your money, a dollar equals a dollar. However, when we look at time, it doesn’t work quite the same way.
A common misconception that many people believe is that every hour is created equal. However, when we look at when we’re most productive, each hour isn’t equal.
Think about it for a second…
If you had to work on a project that takes a lot of effort, would you produce the same results if you were to work on it at 10am, 3pm or 8pm?
Absolutely not! And here’s why…
Throughout the day your body goes through energy cycles of ups and downs. There are times when you have an energy burst and then there are times when you have energy downswings.
If you want to do your best work at the right time, you have to manage your energy, not your time.
Here are 3 steps you can take to better manage your energy for optimal productivity.
Step 1: Discover Your Energy Cycles
We all have different internal rhythms and you must discover yours. The good thing is that you can discover your energy cycles pretty quickly. It just involves a little tracking but doesn’t take much time. Here’s what you can do:
For the next 5 days, ask yourself these two questions:
- When do you feel most energized?
- When do you feel most sluggish?
You’ll also want to take notes throughout the day about what may have triggered an increase or decrease in energy.
For example, maybe you notice that around 9am right after breakfast you have the most energy of the day and then around 3pm you seem to be in a brain fog. I notice that my bursts of energy hit like clockwork around 10am, 6pm and if I’m up late, it’ll hit again around 3am.
If you pay close attention to how you’re feeling at what times, you’ll see a pattern in how you feel and when. Once you discover your energy cycles, you’ll be able to make better decisions about when you work and what exactly you work on to maximizing your productivity.
Step 2: Maximize Energy Bursts
When you’re experiencing a burst of energy, you’ll know when it’s happening because you will feel it! This is when your energy is on the upswing. During this time you’ll feel more motivated and are almost excited to do the “hard work” that you know needs to be done.
You must take advantage of this time! Don’t waste this energy laying down reading a book, tweaking your website or scheduling your social media posts.
This is the best time to do the activities that take the most effort. For example, creating content, working on client work, researching, or implementing your marketing strategy.
You’ll notice that when you work during this time, you’ll feel in the zone and you’ll be able to get a ton done effortlessly.
Step 3: Honor Energy Downswings
Just as you’ll know when your experiencing an energy burst, you’ll know when you’re in an energy downswing. You’ll have very low energy and will feel sluggish.
Motivation? What’s that?! You’re not really motivated to do anything but relax and do a little online shopping.
And if you’re on a deadline, you might even try to power through it or drink a cup of coffee. But as you struggle to get work done, you can’t help but ask yourself, “what’s wrong with me?!”
Let’s get this out of the way, there’s nothing “wrong” with you! Your low energy is a natural part of your internal rhythm. Try to resist the urge to hack the cycle by using supplements because this time is needed for recovery.
Use this time to rest during your energy downswings. If you’re the type of person who isn’t comfortable relaxing when there’s so much to do, you can schedule important activities that don’t require much effort.
But I promise that if you rest during this time, you’ll be even more productive when your energy burst kicks in again.
What are you thoughts about managing your energy?
Can you see yourself shifting from time management to energy management?
Let me know in the comments!