There’s an interesting concept among business coaches that instead of organizing your to-do list based on how urgent a task is or how much time you have, we should manage energy levels. This, allegedly, is the key to transforming yourself into a totally efficient, productive, stress-free, and successful superhuman.
Vanessa Bennett, productivity coach and CEO of Next Evolution Performance first introduced us to the energy>time concept, justifying it this way: “Time is finite whereas most people can increase their energy significantly through a range of different factors like good sleep, exercise, and nourishing food.” It makes sense, right? At some points during the day you feel supercharged and productive, whereas there are certainly times you typically feel the opposite.
Bennett believes that in order to truly maximize your performance and productivity, people need to tap into their own energy schedule and decrease “perceived effort levels.” She believes that if you are full of energy and motivation, even tasks requiring a high level of attention to detail, physical labor, or critical thinking can seem easier. Conversely, when you’re overtired or lacking energy your performance just won’t be where it could be.
“It’s about understanding your energy patterns and working towards that,” she told us. “Are you most energized first thing in the morning, or right after a lunchtime yoga class? Recognize what energizes you and do more of that to ensure you’re working at your best.”
Switching to this priority-management schedule could improve your productivity at home and work, less sick days away from the office, and Bennett says it’s a smart way to prevent burnout. She says clients switching to this routine are more efficient, less stressed, and enjoy “better quality of life generally, as well as more success in both work, life and relationships.” Sound intriguing? Keep scrolling to learn more.
Follow these steps to begin organize your day by managing your energy—not your time.
Everyone runs on their own energy flow—some folks can sit and work on something for hours, while others need to break up long tasks with frequent trips to the kitchen. Bennett explained that the first step of managing your energy is to “understand your personal pace.” That means getting real about your ability to focus and your attention span: “Some people have short attention spans, others longer and therefore people should be focusing for different time periods.” Think hard about your own abilities, and make a note of the ideal amount of time you should be working on something before you need a break.
Right now you’re probably organizing your daily schedule based on priorities and how long it will take to complete each task. Bennett wants you to take a third factor into account: the amount of energy required to complete each job. “Some tasks really drain your energy whereas others give you energy or at least don’t drain very much energy,” she explained.
Some people thrive early in the morning, while others are most productive in the evenings. To truly manage your energy, you need to know when your energy is high and set aside this time to complete the tasks that you identified in step two as requiring a high level of energy to undertake.
If you are not a morning person, Bennett implores you to stop trying to be. Instead, she recommends just completing those heavy energy tasks later in the day. “Stop prioritizing your work according to urgency and start scheduling your work according to the best time of the day for you to get things done,” she said.
Oh, and for those of you already making up excuses in your head, Bennett has a final word for you too: “Before you say you don’t have control—trust me you have more control than you think you do. I haven’t coached anyone yet who hasn’t had more control than they originally thought.”