Stop Managing Your Time (Manage This Instead)

motivation productivity Aug 27, 2017

Welcome to another episode of Making it Happen with Amanda Kaufman! Each week I’m sharing with you tactics to enhance your personal performance and productivity. This week, I’m sharing one of the most important productivity principles that I have learned ever since I began obsessing about the topic over a decade ago… Managing your energy is more important than managing your task list or schedule!

Have you ever had good intentions to get something done, and found that there just never seemed to be enough hours in the day? Have you ever scheduled time intentionally to make SURE you got a task done, only to find later that you ignored that appointment with yourself, and filled the time with other important tasks? Do you ever just feel overwhelmingly busy with all the demands of work and daily life, and feel like you couldn’t possibly add one more second of commitment to your schedule?

Whenever the subject of productivity comes up, usually the focus is on systems to manage your task list, or reminding you to schedule meetings with yourself to get the task done. The trouble is, these solutions resolve “outer blocks” – things we can see as blocks to our success. But, the thing that usually stops us in our tracks is invisible – it’s our “inner blocks”. These are the thoughts we have, and the resulting emotions we experience, that lead us to our real action: often to procrastinate or delay taking the action that we tell ourselves in our more optimistic moments that we want to take.

I certainly have been there. Honestly, I’m there on a regular basis. As an ambitious person, I’m always coming up with new projects and activities that I’d like to add to my to-do-list. There often feels like there isn’t enough time in the day. But, I discovered that managing your schedule is a tiny part of managing your productivity; the real game changer? Managing your physiology and energy level, and selecting tasks to match your energy as much as possible.

The fact is, we all get the same amount of time each week: 168 hours. Yes, have a schedule, sure, plan your days – but if you can plan how you’ll

I could go on about this for DAYS, but since I’m keeping this v/ blog much shorter than that, here are some experiments you can practice starting today to manage your energy and maybe get more done:

  1. Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, try putting the off-putting task as early in your day as possible. That way, you’re unlikely to encounter distractions that pull you further off-course.
  2. Speaking of night owls, if this is your tendency, and if you are expected to keep normal business hours in your job, consider experimenting with an early bedtime to give yourself 9 hours of sleep. WHAT? I was convinced I was a night-owl, but after experimenting, I realized in fact I wasn’t – I was just obsessed with getting things done, and people didn’t bug me as much at night. By sleeping earlier I sacrificed the evening quiet, but the quality of morning quiet is so much greater AND the bonus of actually having enough rest for my brain to work better. I recommend you experiment for at least 2 weeks before you write this one off. It takes time to get used to this adjustment, and the first few days are honestly a bit disorienting if it isn’t your habit to sleep well.
  3. Exercise in the morning. The sense of accomplishment and the feel-good your body has afterward sharpens your mind and equips you to be more emotionally resilient.
  4. Watch that caffeine addiction: if you need more than a cup of coffee each day to simply function, you probably need to make more time for rest and sleep! Too much caffeine makes you jittery and could make it more difficult to stay in control of your emotions –> which ultimately drives how you behave.
  5. Practice awareness of your emotions and judgements. This could be a journal you keep handy, you can track it in your phone, in fact there are several apps for that! When are you in a positive frame of mind? When do you tend to feel drained? When do you feel upset? It is very difficult to pursue mentally intensive tasks, or creative ones, when you’re grumpy, sad, or angry.
  6. Watch your mouth! Do you tell yourself you “have to” do something, or “need to”? Try instead saying that you “get to” or even “want to”. This challenges your mind to recognize things you may be grateful for instead of focusing on the burdens of your life. You “get to” pay your cell phone bill, because you got the use of your phone for the past month. Right?
  7. Solve an irritating problem today. What are you tolerating in your life? Does your phone no longer keep a charge? Does your laptop take eons to boot? Do you need new running shoes? These “little things” can be a massive energy drain, and resolving them can bring you a lot of energy to focus on getting the job done.

Some ideas for reflection:

What are some other ways you can enhance your energy, and get to those things that are important to you?

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