This concept really resonates with me.
I also like it because it can be counter intuitive or non-obvious.
One way to try and get more things done is to, jam more in your schedule.
Unfortunately, that’s a fairly common practice.
It’s Not About More Time Management Practices
I actually have lots of practices for managing time.
For example, outcome-based work breakdown structures, managing outcomes vs. activities, prioritizing outcomes based on usage and value, avoiding over-managing minutia, using outcome-based agendas for meetings, distinguishing getting results vs. building connections in meetings, using time-boxes to deliver incremental results in projects, "zero-mail in the inbox" practice … etc.
While I’m always open to new time management practices, I think I was getting diminishing returns from yet more time management techniques.
Energy is the Key
So stepping back, here’s the situation … I was using a full arsenal of time management techniques, I was known for getting results, and yet I wanted to reach the next level.
What happened next was, I noticed a common thread among a few very different training sessions and books around leadership and results.
Energy was a recurring theme.
Know Your Catalysts and Drains
Of course, then it made total sense (the beauty of 20/20 hindsight!). We’ve all had that great hour of brilliance or that unproductive work week.
I did a reality check against several past projects.
It was easy for me to see the connection of energy and results, when all else was equal. The problem was, I didn’t have an arsenal of practices for managing energy. It turns out, I didn’t really need to. Simply by knowing what drains me or catalyzes me helped a lot.
Knowing is Half the Battle
Now that I’ve been aware of this underlying concept for a while, I have learned a few practices along the way.
One practice I use is I explicitly ask the team when and how often do they want to deliver customer results (i.e. how often do they want to see the fruits of their effort?).
I balance this with capability, customer demand, project constraints and a bunch of other drivers, but the fact that I explicitly try to leverage energy and rhythm, helps crank the energy up a notch (and, as a bonus, results).
Here are a couple of resources that elaborate on managing energy:
- The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal (Book) - This is a really good elaboration on the concept of managing energy instead of time.
- Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance (Book) – You can improve your energy by spending more time on your strengths than on your weaknesses. This book shows you how.