Manage Energy, Not Time

Manage energy, not time, to get more things done …  This concept really resonates with me.  I also like it because it can be counter intuitive or non-obvious.

One way to try and get more things done is to, jam more in your schedule.  Yuck!  Unfortunately, that’s a fairly common practice.

I actually have lots of practices for managing time (outcome-based work breakdown structures, managing outcomes vs. activities, prioritizing outcomes based on usage and value, avoiding over-managing minutia, using outcome-based agendas for meetings, distinguishing getting results vs. building connections in meetings, using time-boxes to deliver incremental results in projects, “zero-mail in the inbox” practice … etc.)   While I’m always open to new time management practices, I think I was getting diminishing returns from yet more time management techniques.

So stepping back, here’s the situation … I was using a full arsenal of time management techniques, I was known for getting results, and yet I wanted to reach the next level.  What happened next was, I noticed a common thread among a few very different trainings and books around leadership and results.  Energy was a recurring theme.

Of course, then it made total sense (the beauty of 20/20 hindsight!).  We’ve all had that great hour of brilliance or that unproductive work week.  I did a reality check against several past projects.  It was easy for me to see the connection of energy and results, when all else was equal.  The problem was, I didn’t have an arsenal of practices for managing energy.  It turns out, I didn’t really need to.  Simply by knowing what drains me or catalyzes me helped a lot.

Now that I’ve been aware of this underlying concept for a while, I have learned a few practices along the way.  One practice I use is I explicitly ask the team when and how often do they want to deliver customer results (i.e. how often do they want to see the fruits of their effort?).   I balance this with capability, customer demand, project constraints and a bunch of other drivers, but the fact that I explicitly try to leverage energy and rhythm, helps crank the energy up a notch (and, as a bonus, results).

Comments (5)

  1. This is a follow up to my post, Manage Energy, Not Time . A few folks have asked me how I figure out

  2. rebecca Piela says:

    How do you manage the things that you can’t look away from? the things that "drain" you? You can’t make everything into a catalyst. Do you suck it up for short periods of time and manage the drain?How do you change the energy?

  3. Routines help build efficiency and effectiveness. Consistent action over time is the key to real results.

  4. Routines help build efficiency and effectiveness. Consistent action over time is the key to real results

  5. Justin says: