Why You Should be Managing Your Energy Instead of Your Time
Workloads and office demands are never consistent but the general assumption is that your work hours are.
But when was the last time you stuck to your contracted hours?
With work being so closely linked to people’s self-esteem and priorities, and since the majority of people cannot always fit the workload into a 7 hour day, most people are staying behind or taking work home.
The Common Experience
It is more normal than not to work longer hours than you are contracted. This can be because of long meetings or work trips that caused other responsibilities to fall short, ineffective email relationships or just going through the peak season of your company’s business.
Managers, especially, are taking work home and letting it eat into their private life, working 11 – 15 hour days regularly.
Whilst you might think that you are doing the right thing in the short-term – the work got turned in on time and the problems got solved, it’s the worse choice in the long-term.
When you consistently work longer hours, you are taking a huge toll on your body.
You are increasing stress, increasing pressure on yourself and reducing the time that you take a break, exercise, spend time with loved ones and sleep. You are depleting your energy stores. What you need to remember is that time is a finite source – and sometimes there just isn’t enough time in the day!
Energy and Recharging it
Energy is a complicated concept but for the purpose of work wellbeing, assume that energy comes from health, emotions, mind and spirit. That means that not taking care of your body with sleep and food, ignoring your mental health, wearing down your mind and breaking your spirit depletes your energy.
Managers and businesses need to recognise that the energy of their employees needs to be protected and recharged to maintain a healthy work environment and get more out of their staff.
You cannot keep giving if you are empty whilst you tend to perform better when you feel high energy.
Individuals need to be responsible for certain practices and behaviours in their personal life that can contribute positively to their workplace wellbeing. These behaviours include getting enough sleep and exercise, practising self-care, eating healthily and taking time to relax in the evening.
Managers need to take responsibility for protecting the sacred time of employees so that these rituals can be established.
The Wachovia Bank Study
At Wachovia Bank, Harvard Business Review took two groups of employees – those who they placed under a pilot energy management programme and those who didn’t.
Employees who managed their energy over time outperformed their counterparts based on workloads and the value of loans they generated.
That means that working longer hours does not lead to more successes and higher competence – in fact, it is not sustainable and decreases employees’ engagement. What’s more is that those who managed their energy felt better. 68% said the study had a positive impact on their client and customer relationships whilst 71% said the study had a noticeable or substantial positive impact on their productivity or performance.
Get the same positive results by practising protecting the energy in the following way:
- Physical energy of the body – practice getting adequate nutrition, exercise and sleep.
- Quality of energy and emotions – practice self-awareness, manage and prioritise clashing demands and acknowledge things which trigger negative emotions such as stress and fight or flight. Executives need to understand what causes these feelings and limit the events and manage their emotions through breathing exercises, expressing appreciation and changing personal perspectives and associations.
- Focus of energy and mind – Multitasking actually undermines productivity. Switching tasks takes time to re-focus all over again so anything that breaks concentration, from emails to distractions and interruptions should be limited. Schedule your time instead of chopping and changing focus.
- Energy of meaning and purpose – There is a reason employees are more productive when working for causes or goals they care about. Equally, employees need to make time for hobbies that matter to them. Spending time with family or on sports or hobbies lifts the human spirit and reflects well in their daily behaviours.
Does this mean productivity and wellbeing increase as equals? What’s not to like?
Better educate your team on managing and protecting their energy and see the improvements for yourself!