Optimal Performance Starts with Energy, Not Time

Time is a precious resource. If we took a poll on Twitter or Facebook, you would find few of your friends disagree with this premise. We get mad when others waste our time. We get disappointed in ourselves when we waste our own time. We do everything we can to rearrange our day to maximize our time. We use apps, we take classes, we label tasks as urgent or important or neither or both. We set alarms. We do everything to prioritize and manage our time.

But have you ever put the same amount of effort into managing your energy?

Even if you manage your time well, you must have the energy to do what needs to be done.

We’re busy all day, trying to create work/life balance even though we check work emails on our phones until late at night. We rush to have meaningful conversations that don’t go well. We over-schedule ourselves, overstuff our to do lists. And when it’s all said and done, another 24 hours has come and gone with little to show for it. How do they do it? We ask of our uber-productive faves. They launch projects while we drown in adminstrivia. We think if only we had more time, we could accomplish more and be more satisfied.

I offer you an alternative view.

Energy is the Key

What if the issue isn’t time—or time management. What if the issue is really energy? A focus on energy compels us to reconsider much of what we’ve believed about organizing our lives.  Even if you manage your time well, you must have the energy to do what needs to be done, to think in the complex ways you need to think.

Let’s ponder two new thoughts:

  1. Energy is the fundamental currency of high performance.
  2. Performance, health and happiness are grounded in the skillful management of energy.

According to Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, in The Power of Full Engagement, the skillful management of energy—individually and organizationally—makes full engagement possible. To be fully engaged in our lives, we must be physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused and spiritually aligned with a purpose beyond our immediate self-interest. This is a phenomenal insight many of us haven’t fully considered.

Everything we do requires energy. As obvious as this is, we fail to take into account the importance of energy at work and in our personal lives. Without the right quantity and quality of energy, we are compromised in any activity we undertake.

Dragging to the Finish

Energy management is different from energy boosts.

Think about it for a moment. If you have everything planned out in meticulous detail, but you’re dragging with 10 hours left before bedtime, how engaged will you really be in those activities? How productive or fulfilled? How likely are you to accomplish what you’ve planned, before you give up, shut down and try again tomorrow?

No, I don’t want you to increase your caffeine as a way to “boost” your energy. But in my next post, I will offer some guidance to help you become more effective at managing your time by starting with your energy.

Until then, I’d love to hear about your strategies for managing your energy. Is this something you’ve considered in the past? What works for you?

Better Naked

I run three days a week (I cross train with weights or rest on the others).

Some seasons I go more often and once in a while, I’ll go less. Last July I decided to beg off running for a bit. I switched to short runs, or none at all, and favored heavier weights and more rest instead.

As it turns out, the cardio (plus plenty of water) helped my blood pressure more than I knew, so by winter it was time to get real miles back in the mix. I returned to my favorite discipline in December, and have been increasing my mileage since.

Greenway boardwalk at sunrise.

Snap from today’s 4-miler. Mid 30s, but not a lot of runners come out on early winter Mondays.

I’ve run for years. Almost always outside, with the exception of serious cold (below 20° F) or heavy rain. It’s beauty seeking. It’s meditation. It’s goal setting and personal bests. It’s deep thinking. It’s #selfcare. It’s me time. I love it.

Depending on what’s going on in my life, I alter the timing, types and frequency of runs. But I’m getting those miles – usually outside. With all of that, I don’t necessarily advocate running. It’s not for everyone. Instead, I advocate movement. Something sustainable and just right for you. Something motivating, invigorating, pleasurable in one way or another. That may be dance, swimming, walking, tennis, boxing, hula hooping, rugby, whatever.

Work your heart, strengthen those muscles, look better naked. 👀 At least feel better anyway. And that counts for quite a lot.