Manage Your Energy and Attention Rather Than Solely Managing Time

By Katie Corbett

 

When people say they want to become more productive, they start by trying to manage their time. While this can be a good thing to do, I have found it helpful to instead think about two additional resources: energy and attention.

 

I first read about the ideas of managing energy and attention in “The Productivity Project” by Chris Bailey. He points out that energy and attention, like time, are not infinite. They are also unique to you, while everyone has the same amount of time in a day. Here is what I learned by paying attention to my energy and attention levels.

 

  • By tracking my energy, I could see patterns in fluctuation.
  • By taking regular breaks, I could stretch out the amount of time that my energy was focused.
  • By focusing on energy rather than time, I noticed that I was prioritizing tasks based on what my energy levels were like rather than how long I thought the task would take. As a result, I got things done a lot faster since I tried to do them when I had the most energy.
  • I learned that there are two different types of energy: creative and strategic. I rely on these different types depending on what task I plan to do.
  • By writing down my energy levels throughout the day, I learned that I’m strategic in the morning and creative in the afternoon. This has helped me manage the different types of tasks I need to do throughout the day, since some rely on strategic energy and others need my powers of creativity.
  • I can tell when my energy is waning so I now have a cut-off point at the end of the day. This helps me realize that I can relax and that I would not be productive if I continued working.

 

I encourage you to track your energy and attention levels throughout the day. Make note of when you feel the most energetic, and of what kind of energy it is. I strongly suggest tracking for at least a week, and abstaining from caffeine and other substances that could skew the results.

 

What do you notice about yourself and your work as you record your energy levels? Did you find anything that surprised you? Let me know in the comments.

 

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