The basic premise of time management is sound -- arrange your schedule so you
can effectively and efficiently reach your goals (which can be personal, professional or both). But all the calendars, to-do lists and bullet journals are useless if you are too fatigued to accomplish the tasks on those lists. Instead of focusing on managing your time, think about how you can manage your energy. Consider these six ways to gain more energy. Some of them will take time out of your schedule but the energy they give back will help you achieve more in the time you do have, and do so in a way that is sustainable for the long term.
Get enough sleep. The science on sleep is pretty solid. Lack of sleep contributes to weight gain, marital discord, poor performance and more. Not surprisingly, sleep has a profound effect on your energy. There are some people who can get by on four or five hours of sleep a night. You are unlikely to be one of those people. If you are often sick and irritable and you are getting fewer than 7 hours of sleep a night try getting more.
Maintain an exercise routine. After sleep, exercise is the best thing you can do to increase your energy level. If you are just getting started, begin with short workouts to figure out what types of routines give you the most energy. Play around with timing of your workouts too. Many people find a great energy boost from morning workouts. For others an afternoon session can help increase late-in-the-day energy levels. And, while you’re at it, be sure to drink plenty of water and eat healthy. When I feel my energy flagging I immediately drink a glass of water. It’s amazing how often it does the trick!
Turn off your phone. The smartphones in our pockets can feel like magical devices. Used well they can keep us connected, make sure we show up on time and help us find our way around. But when they are used mindlessly they can sap our energy. One of the biggest culprits is checking work email in the evenings and on the weekends because it keeps you in “work” mode without actually being productive. If you want to use evening or weekend time to catch up on work, do so deliberately and mindfully. If not, keep the phone off until the next day. Do that for a few days and see how it changes your energy level.
Set ambitious but realistic goals. Having a goal that you are working toward will energize you but only if you think carefully about the goals you set. Setting a goal that is too easy won’t really motivate you, but setting one that is unattainable will eventually demoralize you. Choosing goals that are a bit of a stretch will give you the most energy. Make sure you break big goals into smaller chunks to help you maintain momentum.
Figure out which activities energize you. Not all “work” is created equal. For me, folding laundry is calming, meditative and satisfying. But I hate unpacking the dishwasher -- even though it’s a 10-minute task it always feels longer to me. For a week keep an “energy” diary and make a note of what you are doing and how you feel both during and after the activity. This information can be used in a few interesting ways. Where possible you can try and “trade” tasks that you find unpleasant with a colleague or family member -- maybe your coworker actually likes filing TPS reports and prefers it to a task that you don’t mind so much. And it is always worth asking if the task must be done -- you might be surprised how much the world doesn’t notice.
Arrange your schedule to suit your energy levels. Few of us have perfect control over every aspect of our schedules. Traditional corporate work generally requires that we show up in the morning. If you have children in school you need to get them there, and maybe pick them up, at set times. But focus on where you do have control and arrange your day’s activities to take advantage of times of natural high and low energy.
This article originally published on Forbes.com by Tami Forman