by Angela Kambouris | Featured Contributor
Female business leaders and entrepreneurs often try to do it all. Build your business, lead an organization, take care of your home and loved ones, and maintain a smile. Business environments run rapid with the obsessive behavior around the clock on projects, the endless to do lists of priority one tasks and people living on disrupted and limited sleep.
Many of you would have spouted the words – there is not enough hours in the day to do everything you need to do. Tasks that require little effort, stretch into hours of work, late nights, weekend work. All while other work accumulates, as does your stress levels.
Tony Schwartz, author of The Power of Full Engagement says it well – manage your energy, not your time. Life and business is a series of sprints, not a marathon. Personal trainers have got it right with interval training and recovery periods. The same principles apply to business. Let me share with you 9 principles to guide you to manage your energy, not your time.
Time Management is a myth
Working solidly for 8 hours or more is a benchmark that has been operating for many years. A workplace study found an average working professional experiences 87 interruptions per day, reducing your ability to remain productive and focused for a full day.
It is humanely impossible to be 100% productive all day. Focus is like a muscle. It need to rest to be able to function. If you overuse it, you burn it. Taking effective breaks is the key to workplace productivity. The top 10% of the most productive people work for 52 minutes, then break for 17 minutes.
While our culture reminds you, hustle, hustle, hustle 24/7, the longer we work, the odds of mistakes rise. When you focus your energy in shorter bursts you open the door for other opportunities such as meditation or a gentle walk during the day in between work segments. Bypassing the traditional 9-5, creates a workday to lower stress and maximize opportunities for delivering results.
Rejuvenation pit-stops are essential
Scheduling relaxation and fun activities in advance creates scheduled plans to enable recovery from sprint activities. Unplug with family and friends and enlist their support. Identify your upcoming projects that will require unsurmountable amounts of energy and reward yourself along the way.
Combating the busy-ness trap
There are many approaches to mastering the art of deep work but when you build a habit around the strategies, then you are eradicating the distractions. Whichever approach you adopt, retreats away to complete a task, seizing 5am uninterrupted moments, the key is to develop daily rituals to prevent interruptions and get more done in less time. Committing to those designated times like lifelines, that are not negotiable.
Embracing down time
Have you heard the whisper in the hallway, she is having another week off holidaying in the Greek islands or she has booked a 4-day long weekend for a mountain cabin stay again? Taking time out, slowing down is indispensable to the brain. Your ability to hit the pause button is paramount to getting work done.
Srini Pillay, in his book Tinker, Dabble, Doodle, Try: Unlock the Power of the Unfocused Mind describes that our brain needs both the focus and un-focus circuits in the brain to complete tasks efficiently.
The greats and high achievers exploit the notion of focus and relaxed. Warren Buffet is having known for days in his calendar where nothing is scheduled as he places thinking as a higher value than filling every minute of the day. Bill Gates, billionaire investor, has implemented this approach.
Recognizing your slumps
Psychologists Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert identified that people spend about 47% of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they were doing. Recognizing and embracing the moments when you are about to hit a slump in your day, enables you to plan and create more productive and result driven moments.
Productivity gurus have it wrong
Time management practices treat time as if it’s infinitely manageable resource. If you schedule your hours more effectively, you will maximize your productivity and get more done than ever. Anyone who has ever tried to implement a rigorous new schedule because some “productivity guru” recommended it knows, it isn’t that simple.
If you don’t have the energy needed to stick to your meticulous constructed time management plan, there is no way you will succeed at becoming more productive. Scheduling is not the issue. It is imperative that you address your energy levels before trying to hold ransom your working hours into some time management freak show.
To understand how your energy levels, affect your overall productivity, consider how each of the following elements play a role in your life:
What you put into your temple
There is plenty of room for different nutritional approaches when it comes to energy management. Some people invest in a Paleo style, some vegan and others pretty much everything in between. When it comes to how you feed your temple, eliminate processed foods and revamp your diet with valuable vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Select your diet according to your needs, body type and seek professional advice if needed.
Starting small if you are out of shape, can give you powerful energy benefits. Small changes like taking deep breaths, stretching a few times a day and then introducing weekly workouts can be a way to improve your energy levels.
Elite athletes maximize their performance by adopting interval training where they work in focused 90-120-minute chunks followed by recovery and rest. After 90-120-minute cycles your body moves from a high-energy state to a state where we can no longer concentrate, and it craves recovery. Go for a walk, do something different for 20 minutes to allow you to recover and rest. When your brain has had an opportunity to rest, you have totally unplugged and recharged your batteries.
Your ability to sustain yourself through the long game of business ownership or working in a corporate environment requires proper sleep to maintain the consistent high energy levels needed for success. It isn’t a secret that the amount of sleep you get plays a major role in your ability to wake up the next morning and be productive. Determine how much sleep you need to manage your energy levels to be productive. Minimize accessing digital distractions 30 minutes before going to sleep. Introduce activities that will enhance your ideal sleep schedule – reading a non-work-related book, listening to a guided meditation, focusing on breath work.
The silent killer: Stress
Unresolved stress can be a contributing factor in your ability to remain productive. You can never eliminate all stressful events; however, you can choose how you wish to manage you. Learning to pick your battles, removing yourself from conversations that don’t warrant your involvement or delegating tasks to others. Invest your energy into activities that prevent or reduce an escalation of your stress levels – massage, reiki, yoga, meditation, boxing.
Bringing all areas of life into harmony
Business or career building is a creative process that requires down time to let our brains relax and our minds wander. If every day was filled with business priorities and self-improvement activities, you aren’t allowing yourself the down time needed to work effectively. Turn off your devices, find a hobby and spend time with friends and loved ones.
You decide how you want to progress through these different considerations. Be mindful that you don’t need to adopt all these strategies at one time. Select one at a time and pay attention to how these improvements add value. Consistently apply the practices to your most productive energy periods.