“Energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance,” assert Tony Schwartz and Jim Loehr in The Power of Full Engagement. They advocate practicing energy management in addition to time management and prescribe “pulsing,” or interspersing periods of intense work with breaks to renew your energy levels.
This idea of energy management comports with the much-debated “muscle metaphor” of willpower. Mental stamina and personal energy are reservoirs. They get depleted as you go about your day, and need to be filled up every so often.
Idea for Impact: Match your tasks to your energy levels throughout the day
If you know yourself sufficiently well, you can make deliberate, proactive choices that can help you sustain your drive and feel more energetic all through the day.
First, identify the kinds of tasks that deplete or sustain your energy.
Once you discover your working pattern, match your tasks to your energy levels throughout the day. If you are at your best first thing in the morning, work on something complex and challenging as soon as you get to the office.
Relegate routine task tasks and administrative chores—processing emails, scheduling appointments, filing reports—for the afternoon.
Create a “Procrastination To-Do List”
Consider preparing a special “to-do” list with low-energy, low-brainpower, low-priority, but got-to-do tasks for when you don’t feel like doing anything else. (See this list of 10 smart things you can do in 10 minutes.)
In other words, whenever your brain needs time to rest, you can idle productively by getting something else done. You can tackle this list whenever you find yourself with time on hand, but without the energy, focus, or excitement that you need to deal with something important. Some folks call this the “procrastination to-do list.”
Be warned, though, that doing mindless-but-productive tasks during procrastinating is the thin end of the wedge—it can simply feed your propensity to procrastinate. Under the illusion of not procrastinating and “getting something done,” you will want to do all the less-important things that you can do instead of building momentum and switching to the few high-priority things that you must do.