Time is Finite, But Energy is Another Matter (Theme Week – Episode 3)

One of the best things about writing a blog is hearing from my readers.  Compliments, complaints, questions, thoughts and musings are all received with equal thanks.  My quest is to inspire all of you to achieve your dreams, so the very best feedback I can get from a reader is a piece of inspiration in return.

One such nugget came a couple of weeks ago from a colleague who reminded me about a piece I’d read a couple of years ago in Harvard Business Review.  It fits so perfectly with this week’s theme of Personal Power that I just had to include my take on the key points.  The article was published back in 2007 and called “Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time”  by Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy.

In this day and age many of us are chasing our tails, with expectations of productivity and commitment to work increasing every year, in an ever more pressurized, globalized, 24/7 environment.  In common with many people I work for a global service company that works around the time zones of the world.  With requests for meetings at all times of the day, evening and early morning I was joking with a friend recently that we’d soon have to start booking time to sleep in our Outlook calendars!

But it has to be recognized that, physically and mentally, longer and longer hours just can’t be sustained – after all there are only 24 hours in a day, try as we might we can’t change that and we certainly can’t work every minute.  Quite simply time is a finite commodity.  And sleep is a prerequisite unless you fancy putting yourself literally through torture. 

When we lose our work-life balance and work more hours than we can sustain, then we get tired, we disengage, we lose things both inside and outside of work that are important to us and we get sick.  And then what happens?  We either change job or we crash and burn with stress.

So how can we use our Personal Power to maximize our efficiency and productivity in the hours we work?  Energy is the key.  Not only is energy renewable, but it’s close to infinite.  By fostering some simple philosophies and practices you can replenish, rejuvenate and maximize your energy. 

Research has shown that people who participated in an energy renewal program, using some of the simple tools I’ll outline below, were more productive in the work environment and generated significantly more revenue for their companies.  Think about what that could mean for you and your business, for your life in general and your desire to achieve your goals.  Personal Power needs fuel and that fuel is energy.

PHYSICAL ENERGY: Care for Your Body

  • Enhance your sleep by going to bed earlier and increasing your sleep quality by reducing alcohol consumption and taking time to relax before bed.
  • Exercise to combat stress – 3 times a week, or more if you can fit it in.  Build it in to your routine.
  • During your working day take brief, but regular breaks away from your desk every 60 to 90 minutes.

EMOTIONAL ENERGY: Positive and Constructive Approaches

  • Express appreciation to others – it’s amazing what you’ll receive in return.
  • Diffuse negative emotions and learn from upsetting or challenging situations by asking yourself:
    • What would the other person in this conflict say and how might he/she be right? (The “Reverse” Lens)
    • How will I view this situation in 6 months? (The “Long” Lens)
    • How can I grow and learn from this situation? (The “Wide” Lens)

MENTAL ENERGY: Focus Your Efforts

  • Reduce interruptions – turn off those little icons that show you have a new email.  Switching between tasks has been shown to increase inefficiency and add as much as 25% to the time required to complete the primary task that you started.  Set specific windows of time to respond to voicemail and emails.
  • Before you close your computer identify the biggest challenge for the next day – make that your first priority the following morning.


  • Find your ‘sweet spot’ activities that give you the feeling of effectiveness, effortless absorption and fulfilment – the activities that don’t feel like work!  Find ways to do more of these and drop or delegate other tasks as appropriate.
  • Live your core values – allocate time and energy to what you feel is most important – be that spending 20 minutes relaxing with your family each evening or having lunch with your boss to improve your communication with him/her.

Energy is the fuel to Personal Power and Personal Power is the fuel to achieving your goals and your dreams.  Try out some of these tools and see what effect they have on your own energy levels – as we say in the UK, the proof is in the pudding!  So I’ll close today with the words of Benjamin Franklin that seems particularly appropriate “…energy and persistence conquers all things” .

© Jacqui Gatehouse and NLP THIRTEEN, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jacqui Gatehouse and NLP THIRTEEN with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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