Do you often find yourself saying, “There are not enough hours in the day?” or “The world is moving so fast I can hardly keep up?” Working in the human service field, we may feel fortunate to have found careers that provide us with great meaning and satisfaction, but often feel like we can’t do enough to help the children, families and communities that we serve. In “Manage your Energy, Not Your Time”, Schwartz and McCarthy suggest focusing less on “time management” and more on “energy promotion” as a strategy to maximize productivity (i.e. build your bounce).
The first step they recommend is recognizing energy depleting behaviors and taking responsibility for changing them. Now, this isn’t easy and requires daily effort. Nonetheless, it is important to take time to reflect on what saps our energy and put practices into place to minimize them. The second step is establishing rituals that replenish energy. Schwartz and McCarthy outline four key areas from which to generate energy and, thus, build your bounce!
Rituals to Renew Energy
The power of eating healthy meals, making time to exercise and getting a good night sleep cannot be overestimated. Take time to reflect on your daily schedule and think about what changes could be made to support your physical energy. Perhaps a walk at lunch could be incorporated into your mid-day routine or a new bedtime schedule that supports better sleeping habits. The rituals may look different for each of us, but the goal is the same— to embed rituals that promote, rather than deplete, our physical energy.
I find that I spend a great deal of emotional energy worrying. I worry about everything from decisions I make, decisions colleagues make, situations that my children are in, situations that my spouse and I have to navigate, and the list goes on…… Worry depletes my energy. One strategy highlighted in the article is reframing situations and asking questions like, “How will this situation look six months from now?”; “How can I grow and learn from this situation?; “How does this situation look from other people’s perspectives?” All of these questions help put situations into perspective and reduce the amount of time spent worrying about them.
In this fast paced world that we live in, we regularly have disruptions. At work, it may be emails and voicemails popping up and disrupting our concentration. At home, it may be texts from family members and friends requesting our immediate attention. Establishing a daily schedule that includes blocks of time that are free from distractions is a key strategy for renewing mental energy and promoting concentration.
What activities do you engage in that make you feel effective and fulfilled? What core values do you hold close and strive to live by? Take time to reflect on what these activities and values are and make sure that your daily schedule includes time for the things that that bring you joy and renew your spirit.
Taking the time to renew our energy is not just good for us, but is also connected to the health and happiness of those we love and work to support on a daily basis. Therefore, let’s commit to focusing less on time and more on energy— striving each day to say, “I used my energy wisely today!”
Schwartz, Tony. McCarthy, Catherine. (2007). Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time. Harvard Business Review, The Magazine, October.