Trying to keep up with the overwhelming pace of today's world keeps us in a constant state of busyness. Many of us feel like there are not enough hours of the day and that we're struggling to do it all and respond to everyone's needs and wants.
Tips, advice and courses on personal effectiveness and time management are often in high demand with people wanting to find the secret formula of mastering everything on their schedule. Some people may lead a life of peaks and troughs of busyness and for others it can be a constant feeling of being spread too thin.
We all have different limits of capacity, different levels of pace and different points of the day when our energy peaks. It's important to be systematic about how we set our priorties and to be more conscious about how and when we schedule specific tasks into our working day or week. We often make assumptions that we will be equally effective throughout the day - even though we are not.
To be at our most productive we need to be observant of our energy levels throughout the day. We need to change what work we do during high or low energy periods. If we understand these better we can plan much better. We can undertake creative or decision making tasks during high energy periods while routine work and catching up on emails may be better directed to a lower energy period.
To try this personal effectiveness technique there are three steps:
1) Observe your energy levels
When are you at your best? Do you have most energy in the morning or the afternoon? Do you find you do your best thinking when you travel to work or is it late at night? Perhaps your energy goes up and down throughout the day. It really is all down to personal preference. Consider when you feel your energy is high and, next, when your energy is lower and slower. You could try plotting it on a rough graph if you prefer to see if visually.
2) Plan your work around your energy levels
Put tasks in to your daily plan approriate to your energy levels. When you do a high energy task during a high energy period you'll find you're much more productive than if you were to try and tackle it in a low energy period. Are there pockets of time in your day - such as your journey to work - that are untapped high energy opportunities? Remember to remove distractions when you want to optimize your high energy times - emails and interruptions need to be avoided. Which tasks require less concentration? Put these in to your day during your lower energy periods.
3) Rest in the right way
If you're someone who works in a 'boom to bust' approach - working non stop in high energy periods before a slump - you could try working at 70% of your usual high energy rate. This could maintain your energy for longer and help you avoid an energy crash. More importantly, monitor how you feel after rest breaks...and what you're doing during those rest breaks. The quality of a rest period will have influence over your productive time. A walk might make you feel even more energised whilst time spent looking at social media may actually make you feel more drained.
Taking a step back from time to time will help ensure we're using what time we have in the right way, rather than seeking ways to find more of it.
It isn't about working hard 24/7 until you're on the verge of burnout - it's about taking care of your mind and body so that you have the energy to put forth in the first place