You’ve probably heard about time management. All those books and blog posts will give you a wealth of tricks to squeeze a few more workable minutes out of your day.
But none of those tricks are any good to you if you sit down exhausted and your head bounces off your desk. If you’re blurry-eyed and nodding off at 7pm, you can imagine how the work you do is going to look.
So forget time management. Let’s talk energy management instead.
I’m not talking about the solar cell, wall socket, gas pump type of energy—I’m talking personal energy. The type of energy your body needs to get you through the day.
And to use energy management, you need to think like a power company.
Being Busy Kills Your Power
We live in a busy world. And because of that, we’re constantly running low on energy.
Between info overwhelm, constant connectedness, and increasing obligations, our personal energy is continually being drained.
Not too long ago, that wasn’t a big issue. A good night’s sleep, and you woke refreshed and ready to shred the world.
Today is different. Most of us aren’t smart with our personal energy.
Sleep is important, sure, but sleep just restores energy. Managing personal energy, focusing on regenerating it and using it to its greatest potential helps you reach new heights in both quality and productivity.
Power Companies Manage to the Max
Imagine you’re a power company executive. Your top three concerns (if you want your company to succeed) producing, storing, and delivering. If you don’t manage those concerns properly, your customers demand energy…
…and you can’t provide.
I asked you to imagine you’re a power company executive, but here’s what I’m telling you: you already ARE a power company executive. You need to make sure you produce, store and can deliver energy on demand.
Here’s how you take care of your first concern, producing energy: You need to eat well, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep.
Simple. Boring, but simple.
The second concern, storage, is pretty easy to manage too. The human body is darned efficient at storing energy. I don’t have to look further than my own waist to see evidence.
Where we often fail is at the third concern, delivering energy when we need it. And this can have a big impact on the quality of our work. Thankfully, our bodies are great at delivering energy.
We just suck at scheduling those deliveries.
Take a look at what I mean:
Your down time, that period where you’re feeling real low-energy, happens every day around 2pm. Yet you go ahead and schedule an important consulting call at 2:05 pm.
You plan a whole-day marathon work session because you have a big deadline coming up. Yet you know darned well that two hours of straight work is about your limit before you need an hour-long break.
So how can you be a better power company and improve your energy delivery? Try these three steps:
Schedule delivery around peak supply times
Our bodies don’t produce a steady stream of energy all day. (No, really. It’s true.) There are peak times and off-peak times.
You probably already know when your body peaks with energy. I have a delivery of energy at 6 am and another at 9 pm. But that’s me. Everyone in my family has different peak times.
Figure out when your peak times occur. That’s the best time to schedule in your next task and deliver energy to it.
Use good fuel
You are what you eat. Come on, you’ve heard that before. As a power company executive, you might want to think of it in these terms:
The quality of your energy depends on the quality of your fuel.
Loading up on caffeine and sugar when you need an energy boost does perhaps give you a quick jolt. But it’s lousy-quality energy and is usually short-lived, followed by a not-so-pleasant crash. (Watch out for your head hitting that desk.)
Eat good quality food for fuel. Especially because there’ll be a time when you need that fuel – and it usually comes when you least expect it.
Plan for unexpected demands
Power companies plan ahead for those unexpected moments when everyone wants energy at a bad time. They can’t afford to crash – and neither can you.
What happens if you know your peak time but that big assignment comes in just as your energy is waning?
No worries. Get a special delivery.
Try a quick cat nap or a power snooze, say 10 to 20 minutes before you plan to start working. A little exercise, like a five-minute walk, might help boost your juice. Try two yoga moves to a good tune.
All these activities spark your power and produce a special delivery of energy for you to use.
But of course, special deliveries cost extra. You generally only have enough energy to get you through the day, so a special delivery of it means you’ll pay the price.
That price is usually a little bit less energy later on.
The relationship between your personal energy and the quality of your work is unique, and it’s strong. Keep it well managed, think like a power company, and you could take your productivity to new levels.
Maybe even light it on fire.