In the 1980s and 1990s, time management was all the rave. Planners, Blackberries, and other time management tools abounded. Time management is based on mathematically, ridiculously flawed myth. The richest person on the planet cannot buy their time back. New research, however, has made time management almost obsolete. The new paradigm is that energy management matters far more.
This revolutionary approach to performance is detailed in the life-changing book The Power of Full Engagement, by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. They explain, “The richest, happiest and most productive lives are characterized by the ability to fully engage in the challenge at hand, but also to disengage periodically and seek renewal. Instead many of us live our lives as if we are running in an endless marathon, pushing ourselves far beyond healthy levels of exertion…We must learn to live our lives as a series of sprints.”
In other words, achieving the 5 Day Weekend isn’t just about working hard—it’s about working smart. We don’t manage time, we create it.
“Energy and persistence conquer all things,” wrote Benjamin Franklin
There are three vital components of effective energy management:
- Work With the Natural Rhythms of Your Body
Psychophysiologist Peretz Lavie was one of the early pioneers of the new research on energy management. His experiments showed that our energy functions according to “ultradian rhythms,” or natural cycles that take place during the day. In the afternoon and evenings, we get sleepy at 4:30 p.m. and at 11:30 p.m. But in the morning, we get sleepy every 90 minutes. These 90-minute cycles are our ultradian rhythms, the times when we’re feeling more alert and productive.
Research shows that by tapping into and working with our natural ultradian rhythms, we perform better. Instead of planning out our day and adhering to our schedule religiously, a much more effective approach is to perform focused work in short bursts throughout the day. Pay attention to which work activities fill you with energy or drain you. Shift your energy into soul-enriching activities.
- Give Yourself Permission to Have Your Own Rhythms
Although research shows general patterns to ultradian rhythms, researchers also acknowledge that body clocks can vary widely. Contrary to the time management paradigm, there is no rigid schedule to adhere to.
Our bodies are naturally hard-wired to pulse and operate at our optimized rhythm. Tune into your own body’s rhythms and allow yourself the flexibility to arrange your life accordingly. For example, your peak creative times may between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. If so, turn off your smartphone and all notifications and stop checking email and social media during those times and focus on your most important work.
- Manage all Four Energy Quadrants
According to Tony Schwartz, you have four quadrants, or sources of energy: body, emotions, mind, and spirit. Each source is depleted and replenished in its own ways, and you must give proper attention and care to each one. You may be good at managing your body’s energy, but if you neglect your spiritual energy, you still won’t be functioning at optimal levels.
There are five keys to amplifying your energy:
- Break Your Work Into 90-Minute Blocks
Forget the standard 9-5 mentality. Learn your body’s natural rhythms, and then schedule your most important and productive work in 90-minute blocks. We need to renew our energy cyclical rhythm at ninety-minute intervals, not just physically, but also mentally.
Eliminate all distractions and focus intently during these blocks. Then, take 25- minute breaks at the end of each focused work block. Take a personal walk, walk the dog, get a snack, or just lie down. When taking a break for renewal and fresh air, you may consider taking a walking business meeting that you had scheduled for the day. Knowing you have a break coming up prevents burnout.
- Create Recharging Rituals
Create recharging rituals for each of your four sources of energy (body, emotions, mind, spirit). Rituals, Tony Schwartz explains, are “highly-specific behaviors done at precise times so that they eventually become automatic.”
- Body Rituals: regular walks, eating at certain times through- out the day, going to bed at a set time, playing sports
- Emotional Rituals: deep breathing, expressing appreciation to others, spending time with friends
- Mental Rituals: shutting off phone at certain times throughout the day, reading
- Spiritual Rituals: meditation, prayer, scripture reading Rituals make recharging your energy routine.
- Get Enough Sleep
Sleep isn’t just a necessary evil—a distraction from work. It’s a vital component of productivity. It’s our body’s natural way of recharging.
Tune into your body to determine the appropriate amount of sleep for you. The standard “eight hours per night” is more of a guideline; you may need more or less. I personally sleep six hours per day with a power siesta nap of 25 minutes in my sleep pod, seven hours after I wake up in the morning. This biphasic sleep pattern (six hours plus 25 minutes) is my ideal sweet spot. Go to bed at a designated time. Don’t over-stimulate your brain with screen time (TV, tablet, phone) right before bed. You will disorientate your circadian rhythm. As a result, it takes you longer to fall asleep, eroding the integrity of it and disrupts the ability to awaken fully optimized. Turn off all electronic devices to help your body and mind shut down. Enforce a one-hour technology detox prior to sleep and avoid all stimulants and alcohol.
Getting enough sleep also includes regular siestas. A 25-minute afternoon nap can work wonders for your energy levels. When you start feeling that afternoon crash, don’t fight it with coffee or energy drinks—listen to your body and take a power nap.
“Sleep is the best meditation,” said the Dalai Lama.
- Exercise Daily
Studies show that exercising boosts your energy. The more you move, the more energy you will feel. One study reported that inactive people who normally complained of fatigue could increase energy by 20% and decrease fatigue by as much as 65% by engaging in regular, low-intensity exercise. Other studies have shown energy is boosted more through exercise than by using stimulant medications.
- Eat Healthy and Drink Enough Water
Food is the fuel of your body. The higher quality fuel you put in your tank, the better you’ll perform. Cut out sugar, coffee, sugar drinks (soft drinks, ice tea, coca cola, etc.), and processed foods. Eat more vegetables.
The guideline for drinking water is to drink between a half ounce and an ounce of water for each pound you weigh, every day. Considering the human body is around 60% water, I drink a minimum of 90 ounces per day. Upon waking, I drink a 20-ounce bottle of chilled cold water to invigorate my mind and body. Water is a universal solvent. It becomes anything it is exposed to when we add it to smoothies and other juicing ingredients. At the end of my morning shower, I turn the water to ice cold for the last remaining 30 seconds. You instantly disrupt any brain fog and start the day alert.
More busy work does not make you richer.
Most modern workers work a minimum of eight hours per day, though it often stretches to 10 or 12 hours per day, especially when you consider commuting. The truth is that we don’t have to work that long to accomplish great things. Those who get paid to work, work for those who get paid to think.
The 5 Day Weekend lifestyle is about compressing and maximizing your productive time. With any given task, the work naturally expands to fill the time available for its completion. When you allocate an abundance of time to a task, it will consume that time. Allocate less time and you’ll be far more productive.
Remember this: Busy people doing busy work do not make money. Productive people doing productive work make money—and it takes far less time to be productive than you’ve been taught.
Executive leadership expert Wayne Muller sums it up nicely: “The busier we are, the more important we seem to ourselves and, we imagine, to others. To be unavailable to our friends and family, to be unable to find time for the sunset…to whiz through our obligations without time for a mindful breath, this has become the model of a successful life.”
In my next post, I’ll talk about how we should all push ourselves beyond what we think is possible – embracing a 5 Day Weekend spirit.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear form you about how you maximize your productivity. Do you organize your days in a certain way? Thank you for sharing
Secure your copy of the “5 Day Weekend” book. 5 Day Weekend: Freedom to Make Your Life and Work Rich with Purpose [Nik Halik & Garrett Gunderson]