One of the issues most often raised by my clients is better time management. People have
tried prioritizing tasks, blocking out parts of their day for certain tasks, implementing new
systems and getting better at delegation. While all of those things can make a difference,
there is something else that will have an even greater impact on your productivity. The key to
high productivity is energy management more so than time management.
Let me start to explain this concept by way of an example. A couple of years ago, a client was
frustrated with his productivity. He had just come back from vacation and wondered to me
why he couldn’t be as productive on his return as he had been on the day before he left. On
the day before his vacation, he was a whirlwind of activity - plowing through the important
phone calls that had to be made, responding to all the important emails on his computer, and
clearing his desk of all the paperwork that needed his attention. By the end of the day,
everything important had been attended to. He had had one of his most productive days. But
upon his return, he had fallen back into his routine – productive, but not highly productive. He
wanted to know how, or if, he could be highly productive on a daily basis. The answer is yes
The reason for each answer has to do with energy management. Good energy management can
allow you to be highly productive on a regular basis and poor energy management can keep you
at average productivity or worse. Everything we do – from making sales calls to conducting
meetings and presentations to attending little league games – requires energy. Most of us fail
to take into account the importance that energy plays in our lives. Without the right amount
of energy, properly focused and applied, we simply can’t be as productive as we could
otherwise be. Certainly, even with a poor level of energy, we can be productive – most
everyone is. We’re just not highly productive. Think about your day. Do you get up feeling
tired? Do you put yourself on “cruise control” with a steady flow of caffeine throughout the
day? Is your mental capacity diminished by mid-afternoon? Are you too tired to be active with
family or outside interests in the evening?
Energy management has even greater impact than just physically getting through the day. I
don’t know about you, but when most people get tired their creativity drops, their persistence
abandons them, and they get a bit edgy and less tolerant of people and challenges. A drop in
energy impacts virtually every area of our lives.
What affects our energy levels? You already know the answer to that question. Nutrition,
sleep, stress, physical fitness, attitude, emotions, and environment are the major influencers
of our levels of energy. How do you improve these aspects of your life so you maximize your
level of energy throughout the day? Easier said than done. After all, we all pretty much know
that these things affect us but haven’t done much about them so far. Usually we have a hard
time making changes because our motivation is lacking. On the other hand, many of us know
people who were out of shape, found out their health was in permanent jeopardy, and then
found a way to get fit. It’s all a matter of self-motivation. How would your life be different if
you were highly productive in your sales efforts on a consistent basis? What difference would it
make if you had good levels of energy throughout the day – every day?
How to become highly productive is too much to cover thoroughly in a simple article, but we
can touch on some good ways to start improving your energy management.
Nutrition: Most nutritional experts agree that eating a number of modest meals throughout
the day is much better than a couple of big ones. Don’t forget to include protein with every
Stress: There are no such things as stressful situations. It’s our reaction to events that causes
us to feel stress. You know what works best for you to reduce your feelings of stress. Set time
aside to take care of yourself throughout the week. If you don’t take time, soon enough you’ll
have no choice due to health issues.
Physical Fitness: Do I really need to go into this? Doing something is better than doing
nothing at all.
Attitude: Our attitude colors our view of our past, our present and our future. Most people
allow the world to determine what we hear and see, which determines how we see the world
in general and how we see our own world specifically. Start to take control of what you
mentally and emotionally feed yourself. Cut out the negatives (like the news on TV) and start
introducing positives (like listening to personal growth tapes or CDs).
Another critical key to effective energy management is to understand the many positive
implications of stretching our abilities and then taking time to recover and rejuvenate.
Regular recovery and rejuvenation are essential to becoming highly productive. I can’t stress
enough the impact that regular rejuvenation can have on your energy, attitude, creativity,
enthusiasm, and spirit.
Let me finish by getting back to the client example I started this article with. My client
wanted to know how, or if, he could be as highly productive on a daily basis as he was on the
day before his vacation, and my answer was yes and no. The yes part of the answer is that you
can be highly productive on a regular basis, day after day, by managing your energy and the
things that influence it. On the other hand (the “no” part of the answer), it’s impossible to be
highly productive without allowing your body, mind, emotions and spirit to recover and
rejuvenate regularly. Remember, when we’re tired we tend to slow down, make more
mistakes and have a harder time being creative. After all, the main reason vacations exist is to
allow us to recover and rejuvenate. You can accomplish more, with less effort and more
creativity by backing off from time to time to recharge. Choosing how and when to recharge
throughout the week is another story…
To recap what we’ve discussed in this article, the key to being highly productive in any
endeavor is to manage your energy. By attending to your physical, mental, emotional and
spiritual needs you can accomplish more with greater enthusiasm, greater creative and greater
enjoyment than ever before.