Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz’s best-selling The Power of Full Engagement (2003) is a persuasive reminder that matching your energy to a task is the key to excelling.
Personal energy, like willpower, is a “reservoir” that not only becomes depleted during a day but also can be filled up. “Energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance.”
Your Most Valuable Resource is Energy, Not Time
Even if you’re effective at time- and task-management, you may often find yourself with the available time to do something, but not the energy, focus, or passion needed. You can achieve so much with better time-management, but at some point, you can’t put in more hours because time is a finite resource. You can then pivot to another realm of self-management—your personal energy.
- Identify the kinds of activities that drain and sustain you. If you know yourself well enough, you can make conscious, proactive choices that will help you feel more energetic throughout the day.
- Understand 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 challenging at that time and defer the mundane and the routine until later in the day.
- Start your day with a brief planning session to force yourself to be proactive. Planning is easier when your energy levels are highest, which, for most people, is first thing in the morning.
Manage Four Types of Personal Energy
The Power of Full Engagement characterizes four distinct but related sources of energy—physical, emotional, mental (ability to focus,) and spiritual (values and beliefs.) For peak performance, you must be physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused, and spiritually aligned.
- Energy levels vary from person to person, and people are each energized or exhausted by different things.
- If you feel wiped out, think about which of these four “reservoirs” of energy is depleted. Stimulate yourself by doing something else that can draw stamina from another reservoir of energy.
Create Positive Energy Rituals
The authors’ study of the performance of top-rated athletes revealed that they rely on rhythmic patterns of focused performance and convalescence. In other words, peak performers push themselves intensely for a time, recuperate, and then return to another round of focused performance. The higher the performance demand, the greater the need for recovery and energy renewal.
Human beings operate in rhythms. Every 90 to 120 minutes, we transit from a high state of arousal slowly down into a lull. Our physiological constitution is designed to balance energy expenditure with intermittent energy renewal to help sustain energy throughout the day.
- Intersperse periods of intense work with rejuvenating breaks. Build a rhythm throughout the day so that when you’re working, you’re truly engaged. After a period of intense activity, take a break to renew your energy levels.
- Develop intentional routines and rituals—habits that can become automatic over time. Habits are so much more potent because they can reduce the need to rely on your limited conscious will and your discipline to take action.
Idea for Impact: Energy, Like Time, is a Resource You Must Learn to Manage
The Power of Full Engagement (2003) is an essential read—it can help you operate “rhythmically between stress and recovery” and pace your day better.
For sustainable high performance, you need to find systematic ways to expend your energy positively and balance it with regular energy renewal.
Seek periods of good energy and favor them. Reconsider periods of reduced energy and manage them better.