13 May 2021

Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time!

By Birsen Çevik Akgünlü

Our daily routines have completely changed with the pandemic period in which our work and private lives are integrated. Some of these changes are expected to be permanent, as hybrid working models will become widespread after the pandemic.

Adapting to new working models requires questioning some basic habits, looking at our daily lives differently and creating new routines. For this reason, I have been reading a lot about physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being these days. I would like to share one of the most striking articles with you: ‘Manage your energy, not your time‘.

The day is 24 hours and there is no way to change this fact. While it is not possible to lengthen or shorten a day, the same is not true for our daily energy. We can increase or decrease our energy by what we do or don’t do.

Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy conducted research on organisational and individual productivity with the approach of ‘time is a limited resource, but the situation is different for energy’. In this article where they share their findings, they define four energy sources:

  • Our bodies: Physical energy
  • Our emotions Efficient energy
  • Our mind Focused energy
  • Our soul Energy fuelled by meaning

They share findings that we can regularly increase and renew our energy with the habits we will acquire in these four areas.

Although the article was written in 2007, I think their findings are very useful for today and I would like to share some of them with you:

  • The quality of our sleep and our eating habits are the main determinants of our energy level.
  • It is possible to increase our physical and mental energy by gaining a very small habit. Taking short and regular breaks during the day refreshes both our body energy and our mental energy.
  • It is possible to balance the negative impact of stress on our emotions with positive emotions by celebrating the successes or exemplary behaviours of those around us.
  • Challenging dialogues or situations deplete our energy. It is possible to increase our energy depending on the perspective from which we look at the challenging experience: putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes, looking at what is happening at that moment from the future, focusing on what we can learn from what is happening…
  • While dealing with more than one thing at the same time tires our minds, being focussed helps our mental energy reach its maximum capacity.
  • The energy source of our soul is fed by 3 actions:
    • Doing what we do best and enjoy doing the most
    • Making time for the things that we believe give meaning to our lives – family, health, work, helping others, giving back to society…
    • Living a life in line with our values

One of the findings that struck me in the article was the following: Many large companies invest in the development of their employees’ competences and know-how. Very few of them support their employees in learning and sustaining their individual energy sources – because they believe that this already exists. However, ‘achieving a lot in a little time’ with consistent commitment is only possible with a high and sustainable individual energy capacity.

As an employee and HR professional, I have learnt many important lessons from this article and I would love to hear your comments.

Peace be with you,

Birsen Çevik Akgünlü

13 May 2021

Image: Andrea Piacquadio