thank you for stopping by and for your interest in my personal development book sharing with the world why time management is really about energy management!
As a Life and Success Coach, my business and mission is focused solely on empowering you to create a life by design. I specialise in time management and mindset… but not as you know it.
Whilst I advocate the usual time management practices (well, most of them – there are a few famous ones that I don’t actually advocate but I will reveal that later), I teach that time management is really about energy management.
And this is what the book I am currently writing is all about!
I became passionate about time management about a decade ago when I started to recover from a long bout of mental health issues, including depression and an eating disorder. Overcoming this I realised how precious life, and time, is and I made a promise to myself to never waste my time in the future.
I became obsessed with time management and neuroscience, as well as personal development, but I confess, I took this too far and in my desire to maximise time I ended up suffering a burn out.
Now, as a business owner who specialises in time management, I am showing people how to use their energy management to master their time management.
“Why You Need to Stop Working to The Clock”
What Is ‘Clock Management’?
If we look at traditional time management, the ‘good practices’ that we are taught and the techniques advocated are ones that are focused on managing your time. Think of things such as the Pomodoro technique (where you work in 25-minute sprints with a break in between) or turning off notifications so you don’t get distracted and lose time to answering to the constant ‘ping’ of your phone.
Whilst these are highly effective tactics, and for most it probably makes sense that time management is about managing time, I think these kinds of tactic only take you so far. This might sound weird at first time management isn’t about managing time… it is about managing you, your priorities, your tasks and most importantly, your energy.
Most people are working to what I call “clock management” – i.e. we are working and managing our day and tasks according to the clock, when really we need to be working to our energy.
We have been conditioned by society to a ‘9 to 5’ style of living, where we work back-to-back for five days and then take two days “off” at the weekends. (I will explain later in this book why I hate the term “time off” although I do confess, I am so conditioned to saying it and it’s such a common phrase that it creeps into my daily vocab!) We do things according to the time of the day, rather than what might actually work better for us. We will also make judgements on when tasks ‘should’ be done, maybe even unconsciously or unknowingly.
For example, if I told you I took a relaxing bath at 2pm yesterday, you’d probably be surprised (outraged or jealous even!) as most will assume this is an evening activity. This idea of doing things according to the time of day might also creep into your expectations in other areas too, for example, I definitely have surprised my Western friends by eating things like rice for breakfast because that isn’t a ‘breakfast food’, but that is what we do in my mum’s country of Japan. Perhaps you have even judged yourself? Say if you don’t start your working day until 10am for whatever reason, and you feel this sense of guilt because your working day ‘should’ start at 9am?
Clock management is when you operate your day according to the clock, which might sound like the logical thing to do but I want to challenge this, and this is the soul essence of why I have written this book. In this style of time management, you are doing things according to the time of day (for example, when to have lunch, work, socialise etc) but just because the majority of us are doing it, doesn’t mean it is necessarily the right thing to do, or what works best for us. The solution then? Operating your day and your time management to your energy management.
Before I explain what ‘energy management’ is all about, first let’s have a real quick history lesson about where traditional time operations came from…
Where Clock Management Came From
You might be surprised to hear that for most of human history we did not have clocks or any way of accurately recognising time. Your friend would say that they would “drop by your shop at sunset” or that we would gather at ‘dawn’. We didn’t need to be meticulous about time. Prior to the industrial revolution, we were predominantly farmers, so we worked to the sun and daylight – simply put, there was no need to know the exact time because you woke up with dawn, worked during the day when it was light and stopped when it was getting dark (and you no longer could see!) Simple.
It’s actaully our railroads we have to thank for today’s precision of time. Now you might be thinking ‘ah that makes sense Alice… we would have had to introduce a timetable to know when the trains were arriving and departing’, but in fact it was actaully for safety and not for the departure boards.
After a series of railroad collisions on the tracks in the early 1840s, investigators sought ways to improve communications and therefore reduce the risk of accidents. A coordination of the trains was required and for that to happen there needed to be a coordination of time because, before that it was up to the local town to dictate what the time was! Prior to this coordination, 08:40 in the morning for one town might be completely different to the next town along, so there needed to be a universal agreement of what time it was so train collisions could be avoided.
It was the rise of the factory worker (away from farming) and assembly lines that gave birth to the 9 to 5. It was Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company, who back in the 1920s introduced the now standard ’40 hour week’. The USA officially adopted in 1932, in a bid to counter the unemployment caused by the Great Depression and it became immortalised by the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938 as a way of trying to curb the exploitation of factory workers.
This was a revelation because prior to that, in the 19th century with the industrial revolution, it was expected that factory workers work longer hours, as there was no need to stop work when it was dark as it had in the past. Factory owners were reluctant to leave their machinery idle, and of course keen to maximise their profits, so it wasn’t uncommon for working hours to be between 14-16 hours a day, 6 days a week.
I think it is fair to say, life and work has moved on quite a lot since the 1920’s. I think Ford was brave in his move to disrupt the typical workday, but whilst the move to a 9 to 5 work week and lifestyle was a tremendous thing 100 years ago, I want to question whether this is something that perhaps isn’t something that serves you and society nowadays?
Perhaps we need to change this up?
This is where I think ‘energy management’ comes centre stage.
Why Working To Your ‘Energy Management’ Is Better For You
This is something I am going to guide you through in this book but in a nutshell, ‘energy management’ is about working to your own energy rather than to the clock or doing things just because it’s a certain time. We are all individual, so I want to question and challenge the status quo of why we are all trying to operate on the same 9 to 5, or clock management, when we are so different and have unique preferences.
Firstly, we all have a different circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm, or circadian cycle, is an internal process that regulates the sleep–wake cycle in your body and repeats roughly every 24 hours. Circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioural changes that follow this 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to the light and dark. Think of your circadian rhythm as your internal biological clocks, and this varies from individual to individual.
Also, we all have different personal preferences of when we like to do things (work, read, go to the gym, etc) and we also all have different personal presences of what we like to do. For example, I love reading and for me this acts as a brain break in a busy day, so I use reading to get away from my laptop and disperse my workday. One of my clients Kathryn however said that she can only read in the evening as it makes her so sleepy, so reading in the afternoon would be a big no-no for her, but it works great for me!
Another flaw that I see in traditional time management is that we often try to shoe-horn our life in to the stereotypical “clock management” but it doesn’t necessarily serve us and could be leading cause to stress or burnout. It really creates an “all or nothing” attitude, where we cram in all our work in to Monday to Friday, or we think it’s wrong or unbalanced to work at the weekend or evenings even if it suits us (like it does me). We will feel guilty for taking time off in the week, especially if it is for a little me time or not a necessity like getting our hair done, going for brunch or just having a lie in.
I see this all the time – we end up knackering’s ourselves during the week to enjoy our weekend, which let’s be honest, we don’t really enjoy because we are so tired from an exhausting week at work, and we make that worse by cramming all our hobbies, the gym, family time and social arrangements into those two days called a weekend (a big culprit I see too is people trying to ‘catch up on sleep’ which you can’t do by the way because you can’t bank sleep and this just puts your circadian rhythm out of whack for the next week).
Another typical symptom of 9 to 5 is that we don’t actually even enjoy the whole weekend because the Sunday night blues have crept in as we start dreading Monday and doing it all over again. This is what I call ‘living for the weekend’ and I don’t think it is balanced nor working for everyone!
When you start to live your life and operate your time management on ‘energy management’ however, you can start working to your own energy rhythms, including the peaks and troughs, and when you start to live in accordance with your own energy rhythms, your management of time, tasks and yourself becomes so much easier. Life feels more in flow and you are now creating a life by design, not by default.
Let me give you an example of my client Kathryn I mentioned earlier (she is the one that find reading makes her sleepy). She has her own business so theoretically is her own boss who can chose her own hours. However, after years of conditioning in the corporate world and getting accustomed to the 9 to 5, when she started her own business she didn’t think any differently to how she was going to optimally use her time to get the most out of her day. (Tip – a great question to ask yourself when you are getting used to using energy management and not clock management is “how can I go about my day to get the best results for me?”)
Working with Kathryn, we noticed that she was an early bird – her best hours for working (i.e. when she was her most alert and therefore productive) were actaully 8am to about 1pm. She was noticing a huge dip in energy around 2 to 4pm (her exact words to me were “I am dead and good to no one”). So what good was pushing through this? Because society has us thinking we have to work until 5pm, she felt guilty if she wasn’t working up until this time, but when she was really honest with herself, the quality of what she was producing in the afternoon was sub-standard and she would often make mistakes. This situation was made worse by the fact she got a second wind of energy around 4pm for a couple of hours but by this point had technically stopped her working day (as it was one 5pm) and felt frustrated she wasn’t utilising this energy.
So, we mixed things up! Kathryn changed her structure of her day to work to her energy and how she could manage those energy levels throughout the day.
Kathryn started prioritising her work better, so she used her quality peak performance time in the morning to work on the biggest items that required her full attention, focus and her best, and then in her “I am dead and good to no one time” she took an extended break. This was her chance to rest, recharge, go for a walk, do something creative or some exercise. For all those years she had told herself she would love to work out more but “didn’t have the time”, she was finally making it fit in her day! This also had the added benefit of her getting healthier and fitter, therefore naturally finding herself with more energy and in a better mood overall (hello endorphins!)
It’s a no brainer. It is a total win win. She started producing better results, her output was improved, she even started fitting in all the things she didn’t used t have time for, and she felt more in control.
When we say we don’t have time for something often it is the energy we don’t have to give to it rather than no time.
When you start working to your energy management like Kathryn did there are so many benefits, far greater than just better time management!
You’ll discover them for yourself I am sure but some of the common ones are:
o Feeling less overwhelmed as you’re able to prioritise, plan and not trying to cram too much in at once
o More balance in your life as you are levelling out your energy rather than the previous all or nothing sense of being totally on it or dead to the world
o Utilising your time in a way that you want (let’s be honest, how many times have you flopped in front of the TV not to watch a great show but because you simply were too knackered to think or do anything else)
o General sense of increased happiness
o Switching form an unhelpful “on/off” mentality
o Feeling of having more time available
There is another reason why energy management works so well too – because time is really energy in disguise…
Time Is Actaully Just Energy
Without sounding like a weird kid, I always thought time was a weird concept when I was younger. I’d fund it a weird concept and wonder who invented it. Did it just exist?
It’s easy to think or assume that time is standard. That every minute is a minute. After all, a minute is measured in 60 second increments, there is no denying that science.
But, have you ever been in the world’s most boring meeting at work where you can’t stop thinking ‘why am I even here’ and that hour meeting seems to drag on. But those same 60-minutes of catching up with a friend over a coffee would shoot by, and you find yourself looking at your watch saying, “OMG Sally, where did that time go?” as you hurriedly pay for the lattes and have to leave for the next thing booked in your busy diary.
I can’t see you nodding but I know you are. It’s so true right! Time isn’t just felt in the minutes that tick by, but also in the experience.
Time is actually subjective and relative.
First, it is subjective because we all have a different way to quantify time. I remember on my gap year in Australia finding that my concept of what was a ‘long time’ completely changed. Being such a vast country, the Aussie’s were quite happy to travel two hours each way to pop over to their friends for dinner. For me, that is more like a day trip and even then, I wouldn’t do that regularly as it is “too far”. I once worked with a guy before I started my business who lived in Southampton and worked in Holborn in Central London – his two hour each way commute astounded most people but to an Australian this seemed ok.
What is a ‘long time’ for you? How long is too long to spend travelling to see someone for dinner or commuting to work every day? Everyone is different, has a different perspective, so time is subjective.
Which brings me on to time also being relative because it often depends on what we doing as to how we experience the time.
The ancient Greeks actaully had two different names for time – Kronos and Kairos. …
Kronos (or cronos in the English spelling) described time as linear. It is time that is sequential, where it passes in a set speed in set increments, and this is why we only have so much of it. Chronos is the time that we measure with clocks, on watches, calendars, and by the evolutionary phases of the moon; it can be quantified and measured. You probably noticed that Kronos/ Cronos is the root for the English words “chronological” and “chronicle” in terms of time.
But time does not end there. The Greeks’ second word for time is “Kairos” and what many philosophers would describe as “deep time”. This describes the time that is slowed down or sped up depending on what’s happening at that time is passing; it cannot be controlled or possessed. You probably noticed this yourself where you have been so in flow on a project or hobby you didn’t realise how much time had passed. You were lost in the moment. You might have experienced it in moments of pure bliss where you felt like time had temporarily stopped to let you savour the moment, like watching a beautiful sunset of holiday or being fully present in a beautiful experience.
I also see the Kairos version of time in our experience of what we are doing with our time in that moment. For example, if I told you to hold a plank position on your forearms or do press ups nonstop for 5 minutes, it’s probably going to feel like a long time. But if you just had 5 minutes to embrace a loved one and give them the biggest cuddle, it’s going to woosh past.
The difference in how we experience time is often because of our energy.
Questions for the reader
I would love to get your thoughts and ideas and feedback as I write the book. Please email email@example.com.
1. Is knowing the history of work and time interesting? Would you like to know the history of time/ work/ the clock etc?
2. What parts of this snippet caught your eye and kept your interest?
3. Which bits of this snippet started to lose you?
4. Any suggestions for improvements?
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