Manage your energy, not your time

manage your energy not your time
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Managing your time is something everybody talks about. If you want to achieve next-level results, you have to manage your energy, not your time.

Introduction

You’ve read a lot about time management but you still fail to get things done, or let me rephrase it: You still fail to get the MEANINGFUL things done?

Yeah, planning your day helps you to give yourself a structure. Combine this with the GTD philosophy and you are good to go.

To take this a step further, plan your energy as well. You might know this feeling already, where you have an awesome plan for the day, and at 1 pm you are ready to tackle this big task. But when this time comes around, you are tired and you are doing some emails instead. Busywork is a killer for productivity, and guess what emails are?

Next up will be a manual in how you can start tracking your energy levels over the day and then plan your tasks accordingly (High energy = high profile tasks)

The setup

First of all, you need at least a week to track your energy levels. Since there is not a single app out there which helps you do so easily, I made myself a google spreadsheet after finding the idea on collegeinfogeek.com.

  1. Copy the google spreadsheet from my drive account by clicking HERE. Then click “File” “Create a copy”.
    1. Now go to File->Spreadsheet Settings->Change your time zone!
  2. Next up create a google forms file: HERE
  3. The question can be something like “What’s your energy level?”
    1. Answers have to start with a number I am using 1-5 so I have a middle ground at “3”.
  4. Click on “Answers” and on the small google sheets symbol. Now choose the file you just copied.
  5. In google sheets, change the name of the newly created tab “Form Responses” in your copied spreadsheet and name it “Responses”. Otherwise, it would not work out.
  6. Put this google form on your smartphone, PC, tablet and every hour you fill it out. 

Getting the data

Now is the easiest part – for a week or two, fill out the google form every hour – the google spreadsheet will create an average of your energy levels and represent it in a graph.

I set myself a recurring task in todoist to get reminded of doing it. 

This is a process, you have to do it every hour, if you forget it you can fill it in afterward, but don’t try to say “3 days ago I had an energy level of 5 at 10 am!”. This won’t work.

Manage your energy, not your time

The following graph shows my energy levels over the course of the last 7 days.

Manage your energy not your time

Manage your energy not your time

Manage your time, not your energy

You can see that my day starts with low energy after waking up, so between waking up and my “high energy” time I do busywork – I answer emails, gather my data from the production at work and give myself an overview where we stand. When I did all this it’s around 7:30 and I give myself a quick shot of coffee and a banana. Right after this, my energy levels start to rise rapidly.

My prime time is at around 10-11 am. My energy levels plummet right after this peak.

What I am doing now is, that I put all my big tasks in this period. Between 9-11 I am focusing on the most important tasks – I try to avoid meetings, I don’t answer emails and my phone. It’s just pure focus. 

When this time is over, I do everything else again, from meetings to calls to emails, it could be anything.

The next step

So, I am still in the middle of this experiment and will continue to track my energy levels throughout august and come back with the results at the start of September. But what I will do regularly now is just tracking for a week. 2 times a year, I will track it now to see the change in my mechanics.

Conclusion

Planning your day according to your energy levels can give you a huge improvement in everyday life – and you understand your body much better. I will have a benefit from it for as long as I live – isn’t that fantastic?

I hope you could learn something from this post and it made your life a little bit simpler – let me know! You can find more productivity-related posts on the right-hand side.

As always, I would be happy to hear some feedback on this post.

-Julian

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