One question I get asked a lot is “How can I better manage my time?”
We all seem to be on a quest to get more done, to feel more in control of our schedules, to find room for the things that matter most to us. But, no matter how many tips or tricks we try, there are only twenty-four hours in every day.
That’s why it’s sometimes more effective for us to focus on managing energy than managing time. In fact, what’s often really behind the desire to better manage time is desire to feel different – calmer, more at peace, better able to focus on the task at hand. In other words, a desire to have different energy.
Our energy has a significant impact on our performance and our satisfaction. Think back to the last time you felt like you were really firing on all cylinders. I’d be willing to bet it wasn’t because you had implemented a new scheduling trick or bought yet another planner. In fact, I’d wager what really made the difference was that you were bringing a new energy to what you were doing.
Energy is the fuel that drives our efforts in all areas of our lives, and the things we bring the most positive energy to are the things that flourish for us.
But isn’t our energy level pre-determined? Surely it must be genetic? And even if it’s not, improving our energy must require hours of dieting, exercise, or meditation – time we just don’t have.
The good news is that energy is something we can manage through our choices. The even better news is that the choices don’t have to be complicated, time-consuming or mysterious. Just a few steps, practiced with discipline can help you feel more positive energy for the key activities of your day.
Keep the Physical Plant Running Smoothly
Energy is a combination of physical and mental attributes. To maintain high positive energy, you need to pay attention to your physical health. I’m not saying you need to take up marathon running or give up carbs (those who know me best would certainly laugh at such an idea). But, you do need to give some thought to the basics – getting enough sleep, eating reasonably well, and moving your body in some sort of exercise.
You must also find some way to release the physical tension that builds up in your body. Gentle stretching, regular massage, or yoga practice are all great ways to do this. Find what works best for your personality and schedule and commit to practicing it regularly.
Do the Work to Manage Your Mindset
If you accept that energy is a combination of the mental and physical, you must also accept that the things you think affect how you feel. How you feel drives what you do. And what you do determines the results that you get. It seems like a fairly simple formula, and yet it’s one we ignore all too often.
To maintain optimum performance, you must focus on the thoughts that are stealing your energy. I lovingly refer to these as energy traps, and they can hide themselves almost anywhere. In the pile of papers on your desk that leaves you wondering how you’ll ever get caught up. Or, in the difficult boss who triggers your self-doubt. In your belief that you will never get control of your schedule.
To improve your energy you must hunt down these thoughts and begin to shift them. Find new, more positive ways to frame the conversation in your head. Or, better yet, choose to pay attention to something else entirely – the things for which you’re grateful, the supportive people in your life, even the sun outside your window.
Determine the Energy You Want in Any Situation
Now that you know you have the power to shift your energy, it’s up to you to determine what you want to bring to each situation. Do you want to be a positive, calming influence? Or maybe a spark for big change? It’s really up to you.
Before each activity in your day, take just a few seconds to reflect on what would be most productive and helpful. How should you show up? How would you need to feel to make that a reality? Then consciously tune into that energy within yourself. You might be surprised at the results you start to get…
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