Energy is the most important resource you have access to in your work. Properly allocating energy is at least as important as planning your time. Energy Management is about understanding how you use your energy – factors that add to or drain your energy – and how your energy levels change during the day. Here are four tips on how to begin Energy Management and take control of your energy – right now, today.
Often, when we want to be more efficient and productive in our work, we focus on scheduling, in other words, time management. This is, of course, an important thing to do. But at the same time, it is almost pointless to try to control your time if you do not learn to allocate your energy at the same time. In the end, it is your energy level that determines what is done – and how well it is done – during your scheduled working hours.
So, let’s take a closer look at four ways to succeed at Energy Management:
1. Monitor your habits, understand your trends.
To properly allocate your energy, you must first get to know yourself, your work habits, and your productivity. You can do this by “monitoring” yourself and your work during, for example, a work week. Keep a diary or logbook of what times you work, what habits you have, when you get the most done, and what factors fill you with or drain you of energy. Don’t lock yourself into conventional perceptions, such as “you’re more productive in the morning,” but try to objectively figure out what works best for you. Some people are at their most energized and productive early in the morning, while others get much more done in the afternoon or evening, for example.
You also need to learn to understand the trends that characterize your energy management when you do a task or work on project from start to finish. Are you a highly driven person, working so hard that you risk crashing into a wall? Or are you a slightly less driven person who risks not getting anything done? Or do you go back and forth between these two extremes, so that you burn yourself out one day and then do not have the energy to do much of anything the next day?
Monitor your habits and tendencies and find out how your energy levels work. Then you can tailor your Energy Management based on this information. Because remember – the only thing that matters in the end is that your solutions work for you. They do not have to conform to conventional wisdom about productivity and efficiency.
2. Find out what boosts your energy, and what drains you.
Of course, your energy is controlled not only by what time of day you work and how your internal power plant works, but also by external factors that positively or negatively affect your energy level. This can range from what the specific tasks are to different types of communication and interaction which either boost you or drain you of energy. Maybe you get completely flattened by going through your inbox, or by talking to that colleague who is always negative. Maybe you’ll be filled with energy as soon as you get the chance to be focused on a longer-term project. Maybe you need to go for a walk or hear from your family to get a new boost in the afternoon.
Be sure to keep a close eye on both the energy thieves and the factors that can add new energy. Then, as far as possible, it is important to adapt the working day – and your entire working life – to these, so that the thieves steal as little energy as possible, and the batteries are charged as often as possible.
3. Set minimum and maximum targets.
Precisely because our energy level affects us so much, it is very difficult to know how much or little work you can get done in a day, a week or a month. But Energy Management is very much about taking control of the situation, so that you can actually decide how much to do.
The Harvard Business Review believes that you can do this by setting minimum and maximum targets for each working day and/or work week. This means that you decide in advance at least how much work to do and at most how much to do. It’s a fantastic way to stay within the right limits, so you don’t fall behind or work too hard and risk burnout. If you get too little done in a day, the risk is obvious that you will not reach your goal in time, so you need a minimum goal. But if you work too much in one day, there is a risk that you will not be able to work productively the next day and that you will get burned out in the longer term. Therefore, you need a maximum goal for how much work to do per day – then you stop for the day, no matter how energetic and enthusiastic you feel. Because it’s a day tomorrow too, and because energy is a resource that should be carefully allocated.
4. Recovery is part of the job.
This cannot be emphasised enough – all people need rest and recovery. To be careless with that is unprofessional and in the long-term unsustainable and harmful to health. Unfortunately, in some places, there is a work culture in which those who never rest are celebrated and raised to the skies. But it is in fact a behaviour that harms both the individual and the business in the long term.
Rest and recovery should be seen as an important part of all work, and should not be associated with laziness or low ambitions. After all, you rest to recharge your batteries, so that you can cope, the more when it is time to work again. A rested brain is more creative and imaginative, allowing it to collect information and solve problems faster than the brain that is almost never allowed to rest.
Your energy is your most important resource at work. Take care of it and be aware of how you allocate it – and you’ll notice that you can accomplish a lot more than you ever thought you’d be able to.
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