Recharge Your Energy By Powering Down

Everyone has 24 hours in a day – so what sets the most productive people apart?

Ever wished for the superpower of time travel or controlling time somehow? 

Sadly, you can’t stretch time or have more hours in a day. But you could use your time more productively by recharging your energy levels, says Mr Tony Schwartz, the chief executive of consultancy The Energy Project. His company helps organisations sustain high performance and avoid burnout, by auditing employees’ energy levels, and building supporting practices. 

“Like time, energy is finite; but unlike time, [energy] is renewable,” Mr Schwartz wrote in The New York Times.

His case studies of organisations show that instead of squeezing every minute to finish tasks, taking some time out to renew energy is what makes people more productive and efficient.

Our energy comes from four sources: the body, emotions, mind, and spirit. Physical energy comes from a healthy, wellrested body. Positive emotions improve the quality of energy, while a clear, singletasking mind focuses that energy. Tapping the human spirit helps you find meaning and purpose in what you do.

For better productivity, job performance and health, Mr Schwartz advises the strategic renewal of energy. Work in 90- to 120-minute sprints of high focus. During breaks, exercise or nap to recharge, or do deep breathing and express gratitude to keep emotions positive. To fulfil what is important to your spirit, clarify priorities and create supporting daily habits.

Time away from the office and taking longer, more frequent vacations help too. In 2006, accounting firm Ernst & Young found that for each additional 10 hours of vacation its employees took, their year-end performance ratings improved by 8%.

What can bosses do then to ensure their staff are energised, inspired and focused at work? They can start by requiring that meetings do not exceed 90 minutes (the amount of time most people can stay focused), set limits around how quickly staff are expected to answer emails, or invite staff out of the office for lunch together.

The energy of leaders is contagious, so staff must see leaders model sustainable ways of working too.

So workaholics, take note. Are you scheduling enough time for meals, rest and exercise? To get work done well, it’s vital to manage your energy – and know when to go hard and when to make a pit stop in the race.

    Sep 1, 2014
    Siti Maziah Masramli
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