Personal Productivity

3 Ways to Manage Your Energy

"The world belongs to the energetic."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Many years ago my father-in-law was installing laminate flooring at our home. It was a two-day job. Towards the end of the first day, he came to the place where he needed to make a detailed cut around a doorway. Although he still had some work left in him, he said "I'm going to stop now and leave this intricate cut for first thing in the morning."

That is a simple example of properly managing energy. Effective time managers match the task with their energy level.

We all have our own biological prime-time. We have our individual cadence of rhythm and blues during the day. The key is to know your daily energy highs and lows and, if possible, plan your work accordingly.

Here is my 'personal energy cycle.' I am at my energetic best first thing in the morning. I maintain this level until about 10:30 am. My energy level slowly diminishes and hits a low right after lunch. I get a second wind from 1-4 pm but my energy level is still not as high as in the morning. After 4pm my energy level gradually diminishes until the end of the day.

Think about your daily energy levels. Are you best in the morning or are you a night owl? Regardless of your individual energy rhythm, here are 3 ways to work with your personal energy cycle.

1. Work on Your High-Value Priorities at Your Peak Energy Times.

Perform your highly creative and/or analytical work at your peak energy times. For me, this means writing blog posts, developing podcast content and designing training and speaking engagement material. All of these tasks take focus and concentration.

What are your high-value tasks that demand your mental best? Do you schedule them at your high-energy times?


2. Perform Routine Tasks During Your Low Energy Times. 

Your routine tasks are usually administrative work. Administrative work takes less brainpower. Routine tasks for me include printing out training materials, gathering information for upcoming events and sending emails. I also try and schedule appointments and phone calls for the afternoon.

What are your more routine tasks? Are you performing them according to your energy level?

Of course, there will be many days when you have no choice. I often deliver full-day training programs. On those days, it doesn't matter what my various energy levels are, I've got to be energetic all day. 

3. Take Frequent Breaks.

Research indicates that the mind can work in a highly focused state for limited amounts of time. During your times of highly creative or analytical work, take mental breaks. For example, work for intense 50 minute stretches then take a 10-minute break. Do something that doesn't require brain power. I usually try to get up and do something that requires physical activity. 

Being a high-performer requires not only managing your time but managing your energy. To the extent that you have control over your day, work with, not against, your personal energy cycle.

Because of my personal biological prime-time, I try to be a 'maker in the morning and a manager in the afternoon'. Do what works best for you.