Manage Your Energy, not Your Time

By Romée Jager

Do you feel overwhelmed and overloaded before the day has started? You are not alone! It is 7:30 AM, and I started working half an hour ago. Even though it is only the beginning of my working day, I already feel way behind. I am staring at my screen and scrolling through my emails, marking them as unread again and giving them a color code. 

I feel overwhelmed. I don’t know where to start. My solution? Making myself a second cup of coffee. While the smell of freshly roasted coffee beans reaches my nostrils, I think about how to structure my tasks for the day. 

I wonder why we ‘’only’’ have 24 hours in a day, and I start wondering whether I will make it in time for my dinner appointment, as I will probably have to work late again. I feel like my mind is going in a downward spiral, and suddenly I remember something that Angie Weinberger once told me: ‘’it is not that we need more hours in a day; instead, we should prioritize better’’. 

It would be great if somebody could invent the time machine and double the time we have in a day. But let’s face it, as the time machine has not been invented (yet), we need to find ways to boost our productivity by getting more done in the time we have. 

Peak, Through, Recovery

If you enter ‘’Improving Productivity’’ on Google, more than 226 million results pop up, including many articles providing productivity hacks. We have already provided you with Angie’s seven productivity hacks.

However, it is fundamental to consider your biorhythm when implementing those tips. Knowing your chronotype is key.

Instead of just scrolling through our emails and randomly doing some of our tasks, we should carefully reconsider when we do certain tasks in order to increase our productivity. According to Daniel Pink, international best-selling author of six provocative books about business and human behavior, significant changes in performance can be seen depending on the time of day we choose to do certain types of tasks. Therefore, instead of just accomplishing them randomly, we should carefully plan and structure our day. Our day is divided into three periods of productivity that Pink calls: Peak, Through, and Recovery. 

Identify Your Productivity Periods

As you plan your day, you need to consider your different periods of productivity. Do you recognize any of the mentioned productivity periods? When do you have the most energy during the day? During which part of the day are you the most focused? These are all questions that you should start asking yourself. 

Research shows that everybody has their own subjective understanding of chronological time. Edward T. Hall identified that time is a concept greatly influenced by culture. He distinguishes two main types of time perceptions. In some cultures, the people have a polychronic time perception, which ‘allows’ them to do several things simultaneously, whereas, in monochronic cultures, people prefer to do one task at a time. 

It is critical to understand your preferences. For example, try identifying the different productivity levels you have during the day and plan your tasks accordingly. Personally, my peak time is during the morning until just before lunch; therefore, this is the best time for me to do some highly focused work. As I am mono-focused, this is the time for me to turn off my Skype/Zoom/Slack notifications and get some work done. 

After lunch, my productivity drops, and I see myself scrolling through my emails again. As I already had three cups of coffee, I really can’t solve that ‘low’ with yet another cup. Instead, this is the time for me to start on the administrative tasks and routine activities. During my ‘’Through’’ period, I feel that the ‘’Recovery’’ is coming, and I move to more creative and insightful tasks again. 

How to Get Started

Maintaining a Have-Done Diary could help recognize how you use your daily time and understand when you are better focused. When you have identified your different productivity periods, the next step is to plan your tasks accordingly. After a while, you can see your productivity skyrocketing and your pile of work getting thinner. Try these two methods to improve your productivity.

Consequently, after you go through the steps of the Have-Done Diary and Productivity Level Periods Analysis, you can peacefully shut down your work computer and feel satisfied. You can even plan your tasks for tomorrow already. You can now be at ease and attend dinner parties with your loved ones. You might even sing along with the radio while driving home because you got things done! So you come home, and your mind is where it needs to be, present in the moment. 

If you want to learn more about timing and our hidden patterns, we recommend you this book ‘’When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing’’ by Daniel Pink. 

Do you find it challenging to identify your productivity periods? Or do you feel that you need to reset yourself again? Then our RockMeRetreat from 17 to 23 November 2022 is for you! 

During the RockMeRetreat, we will work on boosting your productivity. Hopefully, once you come back from this week, you will feel refreshed and inspired again and ready to tackle whatever challenges arise. Does this sound interesting to you? 


Sign up here to be invited! Angie will be happy to set up a meeting with you to discuss your participation.

About the Author

Romée Jager is the Intercultural Consultant at Global People Transitions. She loves traveling and is passionate about exploring new cultures. Romée has an MA in Intercultural Management and considers herself an interculturalist. She has been working in a Dutch governmental youth panel for over seven years, where her aim was to give the youth a voice in the Dutch political system. She believes in continuous learning and is passionate about doing research. She wrote her master thesis about Defensive Nationalism, is currently a research assistant, and is interested in furthering her research by pursuing a Ph.D. in social sciences.

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