If you’re like most professionals, you probably use a variety of tools and techniques to manage your time effectively – but what about your energy? If you want to accomplish more and feel better when you leave the office at the end of the day, stop focusing on managing your time and start focusing on managing your energy.
Time is finite. No matter what you, do there are only 24 hours in the day. Your energy, on the other hand, can be systematically expanded and regularly renewed. Think of your energy as if it was a bank account – you are either making deposits and building up your account or making withdrawals and depleting it. Managing your energy begins with a clear understanding of what builds your energy and what drains it. The exact formula is different for everyone.
The Link Between Energy Management And Performance
According to an article in Harvard Business Review, major corporations like Ernst & Young, Wachovia Bank, Sony, ING Direct, and MasterCard are seeing strong benefits in teaching their executives and employees energy management skills.
The article cited an Energy Renewal Program that was tested in 12 regions of Wachovia Bank. On a measure called the “Big 3,” which reflects revenues from three kinds of loans, the participants showed a year-over-year increase that was 13 percentage points greater than the control group in the first three months of the study. On “revenues from deposits,” the participants exceeded the control group’s year-over-year gain by 20% during that same period.
Most insurance organizations invest significant time and money in training. Due to the complexity of the business and CEU requirements, the emphasis is typically on the technical aspects of the job. Few companies focus on how to help their employees build and sustain their capacity to get work done. It’s simply assumed that people have the energy and capacity.
The Wachovia study provides compelling evidence that learning the skills of Energy Management increases people’s capacity to get more done in less time with a higher level of engagement and more sustainability.
As the soft market and weak economy put the pressure on insurance organizations, leaders are pushing themselves harder than ever just to keep up. Energy management can be a valuable tool in increasing personal and organizational energy and effectiveness.
The Four Components Of Energy Management
When you hear the term “energy,” most people immediately focus on their physical energy. Physical energy is only one part of the equation. Managing energy effectively also means concentrating on the quality of your energy, your ability to channel that energy and energy that comes from the meaning and purpose of the work you do.
Physical Energy: The Body
We all know the importance of getting enough sleep, eating the right foods, relaxing and exercising. All too often the reality of life gets in the way of our best intentions. Work pressures cost us precious sleep. We rush to the office in the morning and the “breakfast of champions” ends up being a bagel or donut in the car or sitting at your desk. Lunch, rarely a pause in the action, is spent talking business, running errands or trying to catch up on phone calls and emails. You leave work late and hurry home to keep family commitments. The day’s exercise is limited to a quick walk with the dog before you fall into bed.
While the impact these behaviors have on our health is well-known, we seldom consider how they impact performance. That’s because we live in a culture that equates relentless focus on work, multi-tasking, being connected 24/7, running 14 hours a day with high performance and productivity. In reality, the opposite is true. These behaviors deplete, not expand, energy. The body needs downtime in order to renew its energy supply – without that time, you’re running on empty. Your ability to think clearly, make good decisions and interact well with people is severely hampered.
Here are four quick tips for maximizing your physical energy:
The Quality of Your Energy: Your Emotions
When you have an abundance of positive energy, you solve problems far more easily, relate to people more effectively and serve clients better. But when you’re predominant energy is catabolic, which is negative, it is impossible to perform well or lead others.
Emotions determine the quality of our energy. The reality is most of us operate on automatic pilot – unaware of how our emotions work for and against us and how the catabolic energy of those around us depletes our energy. The more aware we are and the better control we have over our emotions, the more we can increase our positive energy. Here are four ways to increase your level of positive energy.
The Mind: Focusing Your Energy
You maximize your energy by fully focusing on a single task at a time. Multi-tasking drains energy and kills productivity. Research shows that it takes 25% longer to complete your primary task if you allow yourself to be interrupted. Many leaders report that they significantly enhance their productivity by:
The Human Spirit: The Energy that Comes From Meaning and Purpose
Energy expands exponentially when our lives are in sync with what we value. That means doing what we do best and enjoy most at work and consciously allocating energy to the areas of life we view as most important – whether it is work, family, health, fun or service to others.
Is your work fueling your energy? If not, think back to several situations in the past year when you were working on something and you felt effective, absorbed, enthused and satisfied? What was it about the work that energized you? How can you structure your job so that you do more of that kind of work?
Make a list of your priorities – in your business and personal life. Over the next several weeks, track how you allocate your time and energy. For most people, there is a clear divide between what they say is important and their day-to-day actions. The more effective you become at aligning your priorities and actions, the more you expand your energy.
Can A New Approach to Work – Work?
Organizations that have tested the concept say, “Yes.” At Sony, several hundred leaders have embraced the principles of energy management. Over the next year, each of their direct reports will go through the program. Ernst & Young launched their energy management program in their busiest time of year – tax season. Most participants agreed it was their least stressful and most successful “busy season” ever. At Wachovia Bank, 71% of participants said their energy management program had noticeable or substantial impact on their productivity and performance.
In small organizations where leaders work so closely with their people, learning how to manage your own energy can have an immediate, significant and positive impact on your organization.
Kimberly Paterson, Certified Executive Coach and Master Energy Leadership Coach, is President of CIM (www.cim-co.com), CIM works with organizations and individuals to maximize performance through positive lasting behavioral change. Follow Kimberly on www.linkedin.com/in/kimberly-paterson and twitter.com/CIMChangeMinds.
Energy, unlike time, can be systematically expanded and regularly renewed. Think of your energy as if it was a bank account: you are either making deposits and building up your account or making withdrawals and depleting it.