Managing time effectively has long been drilled into us since high school. If all the things on your to-do list aren’t crossed off by 5pm, it’s put down to poor time management skills -- and if, by the afternoon your brain can’t handle anything other than cat videos on Youtube -- your concentration skills are rubbish.
But what if this whole idea of time management and concentration was wrong?
According to Vanessa Bennett, CEO of Inside 80 Performance Australia -- a firm dedicated to increasing productivity in the workplace -- we should be managing our energy instead of our time in order to perform at work and avoid burnouts.
Bennett believes we should think of our energy in terms of “energy credits” -- where we start each day with 100 credits and slowly burn through them throughout the day.
“Energy is a centrepiece of performance -- so it doesn’t really become a question of improving your performance -- it becomes a question of improving your energy,” Bennett told The Huffington Post Australia.
To improve your “energy credits” -- we need to be in tune with our “natural pace” -- which will be different for everybody.
According to Bennett, your natural pace is determined by a number of behavioural and cognitive factors such as whether or not you’re the type of person who’ll run to the bus even if you’re not in a hurry -- and how you set about doing tasks, for instance, whether you jump around between a few or focus on one at a time.
“The reason many people aren’t in tune with their own natural pace is because society hasn’t taught us to be -- it’s taught us to work hard and fast -- and that’s it,” said Bennett.
Knowing whether you are a fast-paced or a slow-paced person can be crucial to energy levels -- so if it feels like you are running around at 100 kilometers per hour, chances are productivity is actually declining.
“If you want to improve performance on a sustained basis, you actually need to decrease your perceived effort levels,” said Bennett.
This means scheduling your day around tasks that suit your energy levels.
“If you’re someone who has a lot of energy in the morning, you should be choosing the heavier tasks over the lighter ones,” said Bennett.
Bennett said instead of waiting for deadlines, start things which you know you have coming up earlier and also choose to do them at the times that suit your energy, you’ll find that you’ll actually start managing your energy instead of your time.
Bennett also recommends prioritising your to-do list according to heavy, medium and light tasks and adding things onto your list no matter how mundane.
“The more things you try to remember throughout your day, the more energy credits you are using that could be spent on something else,” she said.
“You’ll find that instead of getting to the end of the day and feeling mentally exhausted, you’ll feel good and ready for whatever comes next,” said Bennett.