Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time

“The core problem with working longer hours is that time is a finite resource. Energy is a different story”.

— Harvard Business Review

People within the Netball world often tell me –“Sarah, you always have so much ENERGY!”.  We’ve recently been exploring what does that actually mean as part of the new NETFIT “Wellness” and “Energy” modules which provide insights and practical tips to our over Netball community across the world.

What is Energy?

By way of introduction, “Energy” is widely defined as the amount of vigor, vitality, or zest you have. The goal is to increase your awareness of your changing energy levels throughout the day. Energy is your capacity to do work.  If you build the reservoir of energy that you have available to you–that is, if you put more fuel in your tank–, then you’ll have increased capacity. In addition, by creating healthy habit which regularly replenish your energy, you’ll be systematically refilling your tank and increasing your resilience.

This year in 2020 has been an incredibly tough year for everyone with the impacts of COVID-19.  Your home life demands our time. Your work life demands your time. Managing time can feel like the right solution. But if you’re mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted, more time won’t help. So how can we become more productive without risking both our mental and physical health? One research study by the Energy Project has suggested ~74% of employees are experiencing an energy crisis.[1]

The good news is that there’s a different resource you can turn to, and that resource is energy. Energy can be systematically expanded, and it can be regularly renewed. The answer is focusing on how you cultivate more energy, instead of obsessing over your time.  People can cultivate positive energy by learning to change the stories they tell themselves about the events in their lives.  Our new “Energy” modules of NETFIT Netball will teach and provide tools for young and emerging netballers to perform at their best.

Energy Management & Creating an “Energy Audit”

We need four sources of energy in order to be able to perform at our best: physical energy, emotional energy, mental energy, and spiritual energy.  One of the best ways to explore ways to increase their physical energy if take an energy audit, which includes four questions in each energy dimension—body, emotions, mind, and spirit.  We all have bad habits – and key to successful energy management is to identify where we can improve:

– Physical: builds endurance and fitness

– Mental: creates focus and attention

– Emotional: enables excitement and connection

– Spiritual: provides centeredness and presence

For example, an energy audit for Netballers can ask our young participants to answer questions like:

– When was your energy the highest? What were you doing at those times?

– When was your energy the lowest? What were you doing at those times?

– What new insights do you have about how to better manage your energy?

These questions are primarily to help them reflect on the patterns they see in their data. They can choose what, if anything, to disclose in the small group discussions in the next class period. We then ask them to bring their energy graphs and responses to class to use in the discussion.

Building Great Habits

The next step is to identify rituals for building and renewing physical energy. Getting to bed earlier,  making your bed, exercising more frequently and changing eating habits are important ways to improve physical energy. For example, I try to reduce interruptions during my day by looking through my online diary and making a hard copy of my day on a note pad. I designated times when I will check my emails and make sure my team knows those times.

If everyone knows that they won’t hear from you until during a certain time, you’ve created a buffer for deep work. The more long stretches of deep work and creative time, the more you’ll be able to get into flow, and create higher quality work. Another ritual I realise I have is Intermittent breaks for renewal which helps result in higher and more sustainable performance across the busy NETFIT days.

Another powerful ritual that fuels my positive emotions is expressing appreciation to others, a practice that seems to be as beneficial to the giver as to the receiver. It can take the form of a handwritten note, an e-mail, a call, or a conversation—and the more detailed and specific, the higher the impact. As with all rituals, setting aside a particular time to do it vastly increases the chances of success. Another tip I’ve learnt is to try to avoid “switching time” between tasks. It’s far more efficient to fully focus for 90 to 120 minutes, take a true break, and then fully focus on the next activity. These work periods are called “Ultradian Sprints.”

Don’t Ignore Spiritual Energy

Protecting your spiritual life starts with self-awareness. Knowing your strengths helps. I like to think of the things I’m good at as my super powers. Once you understand your super powers, focus on doing more of that.

The days when I can’t get my work flow on track, I just stop the task I am having trouble with and focus on a task I enjoy. This is my trick to sustainable work energy.

Final Thoughts

Getting more done is not about investing more time; it’s about the proper management of your energy. One way to take responsibility for our own energy is to know our top strengths and activate them towards the tasks or relationships at hand. We look forward to showcasing our latest “Wellbeing” and “Energy” modules to the NETFIT community in the coming months and impacting their lives.