It’s about Energy Management, not Time Management

It’s about Energy Management, not Time Management

While time remains an unchanging element of our existence, our energy levels do not share this constancy. Energy acts as the driving force that moves us forward, yet it varies significantly throughout the day. These ebbs and flows in energy significantly impact how efficiently we use our time. On days when our energy peaks, we’re able to concentrate better and complete tasks more swiftly and accurately, unlike those moments when depletion sets in, leading to diminished productivity. 

The concept of managing energy rather than managing time has emerged as a brilliant strategy for individuals and organisations. But just why is this shift essential and how can it (and is it) being implemented in the business world?

Key Problems with Time Management:

  • Finite Resource Limitation: Time management operates under the constraint that time is a finite resource, pushing individuals to their limits without considering the need for rest and recovery.
  • Burnout and Reduced Engagement: The focus on maximising working hours often leads to burnout, significantly reducing employee engagement, satisfaction, and overall well-being.
  • Masking Underlying Issues: Relying solely on time management masks deeper issues within the workplace, such as declining levels of innovation, creativity, and team morale due to constant pressure and stress.
  • Inefficiency and Counterproductivity: Despite intentions to increase productivity, strict time management can lead to inefficiencies and counterproductive work habits, including multitasking and continuous partial attention, which degrade work quality.
  • Neglect of Holistic Well-being: Time management neglects the holistic well-being of employees, failing to account for the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual energies that contribute to true productivity and job satisfaction.

Transitioning to Energy Management: 

Energy management focuses on renewing one’s physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual energies, leading to a more engaged and productive workforce. Replenishing energy can paradoxically create more ‘time’ by enhancing capacity for work.

The approach encourages:

  • Structured Approach to Rest: Implementing practices such as mindfulnesswalks and regular breaks to foster recovery.
  • Investment in Well-being: Recognising the importance of employees’ health as a pillar for productivity.
  • Creativity and Autonomy: Allowing these elements a chance flourish enhances innovation within the organisation.

Implementing Energy Management: Examples and Strategies

Physical Energy:

  • Example: Steve Wanner from Ernst & Young transformed his life by setting an earlier bedtime, engaging in morning exercises, and adopting healthier eating habits.
  • Strategy: Encourage employees to take regular breaks for physical activities and provide resources for healthier lifestyle choices.

Emotional Energy:

  • Wachovia Bank’s energy management programme led to significant improvements in employee performance and customer relationships by focusing on emotional well-being.
  • Strategy: Create spaces and opportunities for employees to engage in activities that boost their mood, such as social events or team-building exercises.

Mental Energy:

  • Myth vs. Truth: The belief that time-tracking software increases productivity is debunked by the recognition that it can actually drain creativity and autonomy.
  • Strategy: Implement policies that reduce unnecessary digital distractions and encourage focused work periods followed by rest.

Spiritual Energy:

  • Example: By aligning work with employees’ personal values and purposes, organisations can foster a deeper sense of meaning in their work, leading to higher engagement and satisfaction.
  • Strategy: Offer workshops or sessions for employees to explore their values and how these can be integrated into their work.

The Role of Organisations in Supporting Energy Management

  • Creating a Supportive Environment: This includes establishing ‘renewal rooms’, offering flexible work arrangements, and fostering a culture that values breaks and rest.
  • Leading by Example: Senior management must embrace and model energy management practices to encourage widespread adoption.
  • Investing in Employee Well-being: Recognizing that investing in the holistic well-being of employees leads to greater productivity and innovation.

More than just a trend, shifting from time management to energy management feels like a necessary evolution in how we approach work and productivity, especially if we’re going to manage our own emotional overdraft and that of our teams. 


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