5 Ways to Manage Your Energy Not Your Time

Our downtime and how well we sleep, eat and socialise with friends and family have a direct impact on our ability to do our job successfully.

Yet, many of us spend too many hours at our desks which can lead to various health issues and burnout. When we’re exhausted (physically, mentally or emotionally), we don’t engage as effectively with our colleagues, it’s more difficult to focus. And as a manager, this can mean lower employee engagement and higher employee turnover.

It’s easy to work a little longer when phone calls, emails and incoming tasks derail you from your to-do-list. And it’s hard to say ‘no’ to colleagues when they ask for your help, even if you have a lot on your plate.

When managing your time, activity like this can often prevent you from being fully focused on a critical task. To be a consistently high performer, you need to manage your energy instead.

When you manage your energy, you can bring your best performance to whatever requires your attention. This means you can think more clearly and creatively. You will also be more focused and be 100% present in conversations without thinking about your day plan going out the window.

In this article, we take a look at five ways to manage your energy and how leaders can motivate their employees to do the same.

1. Sleep, Eat Well and Exercise

To work effectively and sustainably, we need to set our body on the right path. Eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep are all paramount to our energy levels during the day.

A good workout can make you more alert and energise you for the day ahead. However, experts warn against exercising before night as this often disrupts our sleep.

Eating a balanced diet is also crucial for keeping your energy levels high throughout the day and preventing fatigue. Because different foods are converted to energy at different rates, so it’s important to supply all the reserves you’ll draw on throughout the day.

Sleep is connected to several brain functions including concentration, cognition and productivity. Great tips for getting enough deep sleep include:

  • Switching screens off an hour before you go to bed

  • Avoiding caffeine in the afternoon and evening

  • Exercising regularly

Furthermore, our bodies operate in cycles. We are constantly moving from high-energy states into a slump and back up again. We cannot spend nine hours at a desk and expect the same energy levels throughout. Our bodies, mind and spirit need recovery periods.

So when you feel your energy levels dropping and you have difficulty concentrating, don’t ignore your body and keep working.

Instead, take short breaks which gives you an opportunity to take a step back and think about the bigger picture, this allows you to think creatively and ultimately your high performance will be more sustainable.

This can be going for a twenty minute walk - getting fresh air and switching your brain activity off for a little while.

2. Acts of Gratitude

Our emotions determine our energy and sharing gratitude is a great way to boost your mood and the mood of those around you.

“A powerful ritual that fuels positive emotions is expressing appreciation to others, a practice that seems to be as beneficial to the giver as to the receiver. It can take the form of a handwritten note, an e-mail, a call, or a conversation—and the more detailed and specific, the higher the impact.”

(Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy in HBR)

Sending a note of thank you in the morning to someone who helped you can be a great way to lift your mood and theirs. We are a very social species and depend on those around us, so passing gratitude forward can have a really constructive effect on our mindset, as well as building a mutual respect between those around you