Feeling tired and low, always running out of time, lacking motivation, experiencing work-from-home burnout and zoom fatigue… Well, that’s most of us these days. Personal energy management can help you find a way out of this state of depletion and feel your best again. Have you heard of the “manage energy, not time” principle? We’ll explore it in more detail below, giving practical tips on improving your energy levels, overcoming fatigue, and preventing burnout.
The classic tip to solve this problem would be to develop advanced time-managing skills. They always sound like “plan better, prioritize, stick to your to-do list, think ahead, divide tasks, use the latest time management apps, know how much time you spend on each assignment,” and so on.
Well, it’s a solid piece of advice, but it is not always to the point. It is not helpful in the times of global uncertainty and insecurity we are all now going through. Because it is often our time we should fix our energy levels. The “Energy Project” provides a stunning framework for personal energy management.
What Is The Energy Project?
The aim of The Energy Project is to consult CEOs and leaders on how to manage energy levels to top up their performance based on the Energy Project’s unique system. Several experiments and years of practice have revealed that these personal energy management tips help the company and its employees to remain productive and avoid dreadful costly burnouts.
Although initially designed for the corporate world and big companies, the main principles of The Energy Project are worth applying to anyone’s life. You don’t need a smart CEO to invest in your own energy—be your own leader.
Below we unwrap the “manage energy, not time” principle. But if you want to learn more from the Energy Project, check the books by Tony Schwartz.
These are The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working: The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great Performance by Tony Schwartz, Jean Gomes, Catherine McCarthy and The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz.
Using and Restoring Personal Energy
Time is a finite resource: we all have only 24 hours a day, which usually amounts to around seven or eight hours devoted to our jobs or college coursework. Our personal energy, on the other hand, is renewable and expandable. It is much more effective to have enough energy and be able to replenish your energy depot than trying all possible time-management skills and spend all available time on completing tasks and goals. We all know how to use personal energy, but what about generating and restoring your energy levels? That’s what The Energy Project teaches us.
Take an energy test to learn to which sphere you should pay more attention. These sources of personal energy are also responsible for significant dimensions of our life: sustainability, security, self-expression, and significance. Each of these wellsprings is an excellent resource of personal energy. Still, only when taken together as a system, will they ensure your ultimate state of balance. Then you can accumulate energy and use it for the tasks ahead of you.
Tips for Managing Energy
Tony Schwartz’s crucial advice is to pay attention not only to how we spend our energy but also to how we renew it. Although not being productive 24/7 might seem awfully wrong to our working culture, implementing healthy restoring rituals for each energy resource is a game-changer. Learn how to balance between periods of focused productivity and restoration!
Some of these restoring rituals are quite obvious—we all have heard about the importance of exercise and a positive mindset. So none of these tips will give you a eureka moment, but taking them together as a system revolutionizes your approach to energy management. It will guarantee you high performance, creativity, and balance.
1. Physical energy
- Take regular breaks according to your ultradian rhythms (e.g., 90 minutes of work intermittent with 20 minutes of rest or a Pomodoro technique).
- Eat healthy food (you can start with these easy healthy to-go lunches).
- Stick to sleeping hygiene.
2. Emotional energy
- Adopt a growth mindset (read Carol Dweck’s Mindset on that).
- Manage your stress level (especially before and after the exams).
- Recognize your negative emotions and what could trigger them; don’t avoid them but live through as peacefully as possible.
- Anchor in positive emotions and gratitude.
- Build an affirmative story about yourself.
3. Mental energy
- Avoid distractions: put your phone on mute, switch off notifications, and set a dedicated hour for checking emails.
- Pursue digital minimalism.
- Do not multitask: follow “the one thing” rule.
- Make fewer decisions: sticking to routines and habits helps a lot.
- Practice deep thinking and unplugging.
4. Spiritual energy
- Find and engage in meaningful activities.
- Allocate time for hobbies (remember that you don’t have to be good at what you’re enjoying the most).
- Act according to your core values.
You can choose some of these behaviors and turn them into a habit. Here we’ve covered all the secrets of forming lasting habits. These tips on personal energy management are especially valid now since the boundaries between our work time and private time are entirely ruined. And who has not felt zoom fatigue and mental depletion this year?
Your key takeaway is that managing personal energy is by far the most effective and far-reaching strategy as compared with traditional time-management tools. You should learn to interchange periods of rest and restoration. Design your life and your home so that your energy is renewed regularly.