Time Management vs Energy Management

What’s up buttercup?

We are taught that time management is the foundation of productivity. We manage our time by setting goals for when we want to finish specific tasks and planning our days so that everything is scheduled. This is how I used to approach productivity. I set a bunch of alarms that tell me when I need to do something at a specific time. I would make a list of everything I had to accomplish in a day and try my best to make sure I finish them. Doing that is what I considered a productive day. What I didn’t take into consideration was what consumed my attention and energy levels?

“If you’re trying to be more productive, don’t analyze how you spend your time. Pay attention to what consumes your attention.”
—Adam Grant, New York Times Article

But what is time management and what is energy management?

Time Management

Managing your time means doing a set of things during a specific time. This can be constricting and inflexible. Time is finite. There is a limited number of hours in a day and we can’t control that. Also focusing on time makes you stop doing whatever distractions you have abruptly so you can do what you need to do. It answers the question, “what are you doing?”.

“It’s not how many hours you put in that determines how productive you are, it’s how much energy you’re able to invest during the hours you work.”
—Tony Schwartz, The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working

Energy Management

The energy that I will be talking about is being present (not the one induced by caffeine). Managing your energy gives you the element of choice and is flexible. It is something that you can increase and renew, meaning it is controllable. This also teaches you to be mindful of the timing of whatever distractions you have. It answers the question, “when are you doing it?”.

“It’s important to maximize your energy because you perform best when you are doing things that energize you.”
—Matt Mocharchy, The Greatest CEO Within

What’s an Energy Audit?

An energy audit helps us identify activities that give and drain our energy so we can understand its fluctuation. It helps us choose where to put our focus and when to do it so that we can replenish our energy and take better care of ourselves.

How to Energy Audit?

Now that we know what an energy audit is and what it does, it is time to figure out how to do it.

Identify

First things first, figure out which activities give you energy and which drain it. One way to do this is by doing the Habit Scorecard by James Clear. You can do this by listing down everything thing that you do from the moment you wake up to when you go to sleep. When I say everything, I mean every single thing. At the end of the day, you go through your list and give each activity a plus (+), a minus (-), or a neutral (=). The plus indicates high energy levels, minus is for low energy levels, and the neutral is for the in-betweens.

“As you create your Habit Scoreboard, there is no need to change anything at first. The goal is to simply notice what is actually going on. Observe your thoughts and actions without judgment or internal criticism. don’t blame yourself for your faults. don’t praise yourself for your successes. The process of behavior change always starts with awareness. Strategies like pointing-and-calling and the habit scoreboard are focused on getting you to recognize your habits and acknowledge the cues that trigger them, which makes it easier to discover which habits you should change and respond in a way that benefits you.”
—James Clear, Atomic Habits

Understand

After seeing everything that you have done for the day, you see which activities drove your energy levels up or down. You will come to understand that our energy levels tend to fluctuate throughout the day, week, month, and so on. There are so many factors that go into this. It may be because different seasons require different outputs as well as inputs. Like I mentioned in a previous post, you need to inhale to exhale.

Choose

Figure out when is the right time to do certain tasks. Now that you know when your energy levels are up and down, you can schedule tasks accordingly.

What I like to do is to know the three most important tasks I need to do in a day. As long as I finish those 3 tasks and 1 self-care activity, I count that as a productive day. To show you an example, here is how my to-do list would look like.

I can go in-depth on how I use my Notion app in a future blog post.

“The choices that are most powerful in generating motivation and decisions that do two things: they convince us we’re in control and they endow our actions with larger meanings.”
—Charles Duhigg, Smarter Faster Better

Replenish

Now you go back to your Habit Scorecard and pinpoint the dips in your energy level. This is the time to understand why you had those dips and how you can maintain your peaks a bit longer. For example, if you are someone who tends to get food comas after lunch or dinner, this can be the perfect time to do a self-care activity to pull your energy levels back up. The key is to extend your peaks and not prolonging your dips.


With that, I’ll leave you with a *virtual hug*. Thank you for reading! Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.

x. Coco

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