Manage Energy Not Time

By: Dr. R. Palan, Chairman & CEO of SMR Group
Date: Sunday, 7th October, 2007

Time Management has always been a misnomer. We can never manage time, we can only manage ourselves with respect to time.That was a valid  argument, I thought. Today, I read Tony Schwartz in this month’s Harvard Business Review.

He says most of us respond to rising demands in the workplace by working longer. This will inevitably lead to longer working hours and will take a toll on the physical, mental and emotional health.

The core problem with time is that it is a finite resource. Energy is a different story. Defined in physics as the capacity to work, energy comes from four main wellsprings in human being: the body, emotions, mind and spirit.

While the body is all about physical energy; the emotions about the quality of energy; the mind the focus of energy and the human spirit the energy of meaning and purpose.

In each, the energy can be expanded by establishing specific rituals  with the goal of making them habits. We can make it a ritual to exercise in the gym everyday as some of us now look at the emails. We can manage energy depleting behaviours such as anger by taking responsibility for changing them.

I thought the idea of managing energy not time would be something useful to me. I like to explore it in greater detail in the next couple of weeks.

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One Response to Manage Energy Not Time

  1. Farhana Zahani Zainal Abidin says:

    The first time I look at the title ‘Manage Energy Not Time’, I thought the writer; Dr. Palan miswrote it because usually we only hear titles like ‘How to Manage Our Time’, and nothing about energy. But as I read further, I have to agree with Dr. Palan and author Tony Schwartz. Schwartz argued that we can never manage time, but we can manage ourselves with respect to time.

    Basically, the key is to know how we can balance the health of our body, mind, emotions and spirit. But how exactly can we do that? Is there a recipe for a perfect way of life? Do we even have the time to manage our energy?

    We are talking about those who chose big careers as their commitment; barely have time even for themselves. They work hard every day, attend business meetings both local and overseas. But at the end of the day, or after a successful business deal, they feel like it is all worth it and went for a weekend holiday. After that, it is back to stress, migraine and datelines. The question is, can a weekend holiday make up for all the stress and energy put at work? Or this ‘managing energy’ needs to be done at a daily basis?

    In life, people vary. Some people regain energy through exercise or quiet activities like yoga and fishing. Some may indulge in shopping or spend their time with friends. Some like it extreme and went for bungee jumping or extreme sports. But most importantly, some requires the whole weekend off while some may only need a few hours. So, what is your idea of managing your energy and when is the best time do it?

    Schwartz also mentioned about managing anger by taking responsibility for changing them. We have to understand that it does not mean suppressing our emotions. Emotions are best to let out; suppressing them is not going to make anybody strong or healthy. What we should do is, to convert our anger into our driving force to change things for the better. It sounds something like a complicated thing that only professionals can do. Is there a good way for doing this? How would you change your negative energy into a positive one?

    Just by making sure we have a good and balance energy takes a whole lot of time. Although we are talking about how to save time for work, we should also take account the people around us. If you are the man in the house, you must ensure your family members’ needs are met, financially, spiritually, materially and emotionally. How do we do that without having any effects to our personal life? How do we do that without having any effects to our career? How do we do that without wasting too much energy? How do we do that with limited time?

    For me, I believe everything that we do must have a sacrifice. We sacrifice our money for the things that we want. We sacrifice our time for our family. And some of us sacrifice our family for our career. Whichever it may be, it is us, our energy that decides whether we do have the time to do anything or not. We try to manage our energy to make up for our time but to manage energy itself sacrifices time and effort. Because time is finite and there are so many things to do, eventually we have to let go off something. Otherwise, we will break down. We are, after all, just human. What do you think?

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