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Managing Your Energy vs. Managing Your Time

windmills - managing your energy vs managing your time

Have you ever had one of those days where you felt on point? You were motivated to start your day, contributed ideas to move a project forward at work, connected with friends and family, took your dog for a walk, baked cupcakes, read a great book, had a delicious dinner, and went to bed happy and pleasantly tired. Or maybe your day started with good intentions and took a detour by 8:30 am. Truthfully, I've had both kinds of days along with everything in between. But I feel the best when my days are more like the first example. It's not that I've gotten everything done on my to-do list, but that I have balance throughout all parts of my life and connected with things that are important to me.

I recently found the work of Tony Schwartz, Jean Gomes, and Catherine McCarthy, authors of the book The Way We're Working Isn't Working. Through their research, they discovered that people work best when they pay attention to these four areas of their lives: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. The authors call these "four separate but related sources of energy". As I look at my perfect day, it is a result of using and replenishing all four of these buckets.


Productivity isn't a virtue, it's a means to an end. It's only virtuous if the end is worthy. Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at Wharton


It seems that busy-ness has a certain status attached to it. We have a finite amount of hours in any given day, but energy is renewable. According to Tony Schwartz & Jim Lohr in their book The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal: "Performance, health, and happiness are grounded in the skillful management of energy. The number of hours in a day is fixed, but the quantity and quality of energy available to us are not. It is our most precious resource. The more we take responsibility for the energy we bring to the world, the more empowered and productive we become."

Let's take a look at the four energy buckets and how we can replenish them.

Physical Energy