Energy vs. Time

It would seem the world is obsessed with time. There just does not seem to be enough hours in the day, or for that matter, days in the week to get everything done. Even after the weekend break, we will return to work and complain, when asked about our 2 days off, that it was too short. We check our watches during meetings and conversations, and repeatedly refer to our PDAs to keep track of where we are meant to be next. When we are really short on time, we multi-task. We check our emails during teleconferences, we take calls while driving, we work on our laptops during meetings, we constantly check our PDAs for incoming information while supposedly watching our children perform at a school sports day, and so on. We are traveling at high-speed each day, and still there is not enough time.

The solution was believed to be better time management. If we could just prioritize and organize our time better, then we could get everything done. Unfortunately, this assumption, we believe at the Human Performance Institute, is flawed. Time management takes you from being absent to being physically present, but it does not guarantee performance or productivity. Through more than 30 years of training professional athletes across many sports, we have learned that “showing up” does not necessarily mean a great training day or a winning performance on the sports field or tennis court. Athletes must be present, but also fully engaged in their training or competition if success is to be achieved and lack of energy, or fatigue, will compromise engagement and performance.

Consequently, managing time is insufficient on its own. We must also manage our energy if we are to be fully engaged in the moment. Becoming aware of our personal energy levels and better managing our energy is the key to sustained high performance. In other words, avoiding, preventing and delaying fatigue can mean the difference between a productive day and unproductive day.

For example, many of us may be a “morning” person, meaning that we are often at our best at that time, but we feel less productive in the afternoon. Why might this be? The answer may be simply down to our personal energy levels at those times. Many of us feel energized, positive, alert and focused in the morning, but sluggish, irritable, scattered in the afternoon. Time is not the issue. Energy is. It is possible we go home to the most important people in our lives with the least amount of energy we have had all day. The result is often disengagement. And as our fatigue gradually develops over the long-term we may become disengaged with our personal health and happiness – we make poorer choices around exercise and good nutrition and lose connection with our friends and our communities.

So what is the solution? As a Corporate Athlete, becoming more aware of your energy i.e. who and what is getting your energy and determining who and what should be getting your energy are critical first steps. Next is to improve your energy management skills. Eating light and often, taking movement breaks and not sitting for prolonged periods, exercising regularly, improving sleep habits and getting regular, short recovery breaks from periods of stress will take you a long way to better managing and increasing your energy levels. Then, it is up to you to spend your energy wisely.

The Human Performance Institute feels your energy is the most precious resource as a human being and you should invest in those things that really matter to you. Instead of multitasking through a sit-down meeting with a direct report, take a walking meeting, free of distractions and fully engage with him/her. Try a light lunch then a small snack 2 to 3 hours later before that intense end-of-day meeting, and don’t sit for more than 2 hours. Finally, try a 30-minute, challenging workout at the gym on the way home, and invest that boost of energy by connecting and being 100% engaged with your spouse/family when you get home from work. Make time have value and meaning by bringing your full and best energy to those moments that matter.