How often do you consciously decide how you divide your time and energy? Every day we split our limited resources on areas such as work, study, family, friends and self-care – some areas get a greater focus while others get neglected. Yet too often we select this percentage split unconsciously, passively laying the foundations for our lives without stopping to consider whether they are helping us reach our win.
Our foundations are the areas of our life which are most important to us. They are the activities and rituals that we choose to prioritise in order to be more effective, successful people. But if we choose the wrong foundations, we risk spending all our precious time and energy in the wrong places.
For instance, a year ago, Gary made the decision to quit his job at a large firm to go freelance, so that he would have more time and energy to spend looking after his children while his wife went back to work. Soon, he fell into a pattern of getting up at 6am to respond to emails before taking the children to school and continuing to work on his laptop late into the night, snacking as he went. Yes he was getting through his to-do list and relieving the pressure on his wife, but at what cost? The way he was chasing to spend his energy left him feeling depleted of energy, pressed for time and making little or no meaningful progress.
We see your energy supply like a battery. We can expend that energy any way we wish, but there is only a limited store that we can take from before we run out of power. So how do we best manage our energy?
Every day we make choices that can deplete, recover or even increase our energy reserves. And when we are working towards a set win, any time or energy wasted can represent a major drag on progress. This was particularly true for Gary, who was merely spending his energy reacting to the demands around him, gradually draining his energy battery.
How to maximise your energy?
We asked Gary to keep a diary of the time that he spent on the key areas of his life – his work, his family, his friends and his hobbies. We told him that every hour of the day represented either an energy-generating activity, or an energy depleting activity. He was shocked to realise that he was spending a disproportionate amount of time on energy-draining activities such as reactive work activities and barely any time with his closest friends, or playing football – his favourite hobby.
Seeing this written down in black and white made Gary understand that his foundations had to change, for the good of his own physical and mental health. He was not looking after his battery, draining energy without recovering. This is a guaranteed route to burnout.
How we choose to spend our time can have a huge impact on our energy reserves. We have broken this down in the image below, which helps to demonstrate how we might distribute our energy over the course of a day. By managing our energy we can be even more productive and fulfilled, becoming better in those areas where we want to succeed.
Are you making good energy choices?
Being able to choose how we expend our energy is a critical element of confidence. It allows us to spend time and energy in the areas where we think are going to make the most impact. That impact will be to get us faster, better, closer to that ultimate win.
To find out if you are making good energy choices, try this exercise: take a stack of sticky notes and a pen and think about how you spend your energy. Set a timer for two minutes and list as many things as possible, allocating one sticky note for each activity. Then group the sticky notes into themes (e.g. work, family life, hobbies, etc) and calculate the percentage of energy that is spent on each of these themes.
This will give you an overview of where you are spending your energy at the present time. However, it may not represent your ideal energy split. Now you can choose to change this energy distribution in a way that aligns with your foundations and helps to propel you even closer to your end win.
To learn more about how to manage your time and energy in the most productive way possible, pick up our book from WhatDoesItTakeToWin.com.