Increase your Productivity Tenfold with Three Energy Management Tips

Apr 20, 2011

Written by Jon Giganti (Words – 981, Read time – 4 minutes). Subscribe to receive free posts and I’ll send you my Getting Things Done 101 Guide – Achieve a week’s worth of productivity in a day.

“It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about” -Thoreau

I believe you can increase your productivity tenfold (yes, 10 times) if you can master your energy.

Do you think there’s enough time in the day? My guess is that most of you would say no. We must learn how to make best use of our time and, more importantly, our energy. In the Power of Full Engagement, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz say that “energy, not time, is the most important resource.” I completely agree.

The goal of this post is to give you a couple easy ways to increase your productivity by managing your energy the right way.

These three tips will help you rock your day:

1 – Manage your distractions

We are all busy. Time is finite. We can fill our days up quickly and we can let things get away from us rather quickly. Meetings, calls, soccer games; you name it. We tend to run around from latest to loudest, especially in a work environment. We live in a world of multi-tasking and 24/7 news. Technology continues to expand at exponential rates. Things are coming at us and the distractions are alive and kicking at all times. Twitter and Facebook, while great tools for connecting, can be a black hole if you let them. What else is coming in the next few years? My guess is a lot.

All of this will zap your energy faster than you think. Your mind can only take so much during the day. Are you taking breaks? If not, I bet you’re jumping around from one thing to another and not finishing much.

Why this is important?

Finding time is getting more difficult every day. Here’s some advice – it’s not going to get any easier. Time doesn’t increase, but managing your distractions will lead to sustainable energy….in turn, increased performance.

What you can do – Learn how to disconnect. Turn everything off. Yes, your phone. Yes, your email. Yes, the internet. Use a timer. Start small – 15 minutes. Then, move to 30, then to 60. I guarantee you will see your productivity increase tenfold if you can build this habit.

2 – Understand your peak energy times

When do you work best? For some, it may be late at night. For most, however, it’s early in the morning. I know that’s what works for me. My email and phone begin to blow up around 9:30 ET. I know if I don’t get off to a good start and get my important tasks out of the way before then, I’m in trouble. It’s catch up the rest of the day. Do you crash in the afternoon? I know I do sometimes. I’ll get more into combating this in the next point.

Why this is important?

You must take advantage of when you’re at your best. There are so many distractions and energy debilitating things that come our way throughout the day, that if you can leverage your peak times, you can coast during your low times.

What you can do – Track your energy throughout the day. Keep a simple log. Scale it from 1-10, 1 being low energy and 10 being high energy. Pay attention to when your energy is at it’s highest. Does it crash or spike at certain times. I keep a running log throughout the day, usually tracking about five or six times. I had no idea how much energy I had in the morning until I started doing this. I now manage my day around this. You’ll notice in this chart that I also track my Peace (or stress) level. I found that a lot of times these will trend in similar ways.

A Chart of How I Track Mine

3 – Eat for energy

Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? I believe that’s up for debate. Yes, it’s vital, but there are two other meals that I would say are just as important if you want to maximize your energy and productivity throughout the day. These are a mid-morning snack and a mid-afternoon snack. Of course, I’m talking about something healthy. For example, some string cheese, an apple and a couple of almonds. Or, how about a protein shake or bar?

Why this is important?

If you can build the habit of eating small snacks, you will find that you won’t overeat at lunch. You won’t be overly hungry, which means you won’t binge eat. This leads to never feeling too full. Your energy will stay at a higher level throughout the day. Tracking it will show you.

What you can do – Implement smaller meals mid and late morning. This will take some planning. If you work in an office, pack your snacks. Make it easy. If you need to send yourself a reminder, put it in your calendar.

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst”
William Penn

Energy is the new productivity anchor. If you can master these three habits, you will find your energy increase immensely. Remember these three keys – 1, Manage Distractions; 2, Understand your peak energy times; 3, Eat for energy. Try this great test by the folks at The Energy Project to understand if you’re managing your energy the right way.

Time is what we want more than anything, but you’re missing the boat if you rely on time management techniques that don’t factor in how you actually feel during the day. Your mental state and your energy must become a priority for you to be focused on the things that matter. Think of yourself like an athlete. Do you think a boxer can sustain 15 rounds without managing their energy throughout the fight? Neither can you.

Any more ideas? What do you do to manage your energy? Please share in the comments below. It will help us all.

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