Time management is out and energy management is in

Ever wished there were more hours in the day? Change your focus from the clock to your personal battery pack to get more out of life, says our resident Holistic Exec Jeremy McCarthy.

Time management is out and energy management is in. We so often claim we don’t have enough time in our day, yet if we really analyze our day and how we spend our time we quickly realize that we have more time than we think. What we don’t always have, however, is the energy to do all we hope to achieve in a day.

How much time do you spend, for example, in unproductive pursuits like aimlessly browsing on social media, or simply being disengaged? According to Gallup, only about 13 percent of employees worldwide are engaged at work. In another study by Gallup, only 11 percent of the 10,000 people surveyed reported having a great deal of energy throughout their day.

In his new book, Tom Rath, a senior scientist and advisor to Gallup asks Are You Fully Charged? Here are five strategies he proposes to help charge your battery, rather than draining it:

1. Sleep more

A no-brainer, yet we continue to learn more about the importance of sleep, rest and recovery every day. You know those famous studies (by K. Anders Ericsson) of how 10,000 hours of deliberate practice at an activity is the key differentiator for best performers across a variety of disciplines? According to Rath, these studies also showed that peak performers clock in an average 8 hours and 36 minutes of sleep a night (compared to the average American’s 6 hours and 51 minutes). Sleeping more may mean you have “less time,” but it equates with more energy to accomplish more. Sometimes, you have to slow down to speed up.

2. Connect with others 

People become energized by their interactions with other people. There are, on the other hand, “energy vampires” who will sap the life force out of you. But people’s batteries are often charged by their interactions with other people. This is why John Deere (the tractor manufacturer) invites its employees to spend time with the farmers who use their tractors. These interactions energize the workers who come back to the factory with a deeper sense of meaning and purpose about what they do. So find the people in life that fill up your energy tank and get to work.

3.  Work out in the morning

I’ve always preferred to work out in the morning because I feel like it energizes me throughout the day. I thought this was just a matter of personal preference, but Rath cites studies suggesting the mood boost from exercising lasts as long as 12 hours after a workout. If you work out in the evening, you will instead sleep through the mood boost, and you won’t gain the same energy level benefits. (By the way, people who worry about getting tired from exercising, have it backwards.) Exercise, at least over the long run, charges our batteries and makes our bodies and brains function better.

4. Use your strengths

We become energized when we do things that we are good at, and that we love to do. But it’s also important to use them in a meaningful way. “Ask what the world needs,” said Rath. “You create meaning when your strengths and interests meet the needs of the world.”

5. Give yourself a break 

An analysis of employees’ time usage throughout the day led to a surprising observation. What sets the most productive people apart from their less productive colleagues was not their determination to grind out long hours in the office, but their ability to take effective breaks. The top 10 percent of performers work for 52 minutes at a time, on average, followed by a 17 minute break before resuming their work.

Rath’s strategies (and there are many more in the book) revolve around three main topics: creating more meaning in your life by serving others, establishing positive relationships that are supportive and create great life experiences, and making smart decisions about your physical and mental health.

So tell me, what do you do to charge your batteries?


This article was originally published on Jeremy’s blog, The Psychology of Wellbeing.