Time Management or Energy Management?

Relying on efficiency hacks to help us manage too much work is folly.

Sooner or later, we’re going to hit a limit and it’s going to hurt our productivity, our sanity, our health and our happiness.

That’s why the current mass obsession for time management seems crazy to me.

All those influencers and business gurus out there offering hacks to help us work like a well-oiled machines – cutting through our to-do lists at lightning pace so that we can stuff more and more responsibilities into our days.

We seem to have forgotten that more isn’t necessarily better. Trying to do too much isn’t good for productivity – it damages it. It’s a recipe for poor quality work and a miserable, unhealthy and unsustainable day-to-day work experience.

No wonder burnout and engagement statistics are becoming more and more grim, year after year.

Of course, if we have a lot going on it’s great to give attention to what we choose to prioritise and if we streamline those essential processes we avoid wasting time on unnecessary stuff.

But we have limited control over our time. Our days are only ever going to be 24 hours long and (unless you’re the CEO or run the company) it’s most likely that the majority of your work agendas are full with stuff that you aren’t able to say no to.

Focusing solely on time management will leave you exhausted and defeated. Even if the hacks help you clear some precious time for something important, with no energy to bring to the task you’re stuffed anyway.

Instead – focus on managing your energy. If done right, it is plentiful, rechargeable and controllable. It can help you work better and feel better.

This means:

✔ Remember that your health is more important than any job. Prioritise it.

✔ Make peace with working in waves of challenge and recovery throughout your working hours, rather than stacking depleting tasks nose to tail. Take your foot off the gas every now and again and work the brakes. This won’t damage your productivity, I promise. It’s more likely to improve it.

✔ If you’re using your leisure hours to recover from work – realise that this is a bad sign. You shouldn’t be ‘borrowing’ energy from your down-time to do your job.