New time management techniques

By David Tighe

Time management remains a core focus within leadership, coaching, and mentoring programs.

Inevitably, to keep the subject fresh, new buzz words and soon-to-be clichés pop up to put new clothes on old concepts. You take the new label with a grain of salt, but sometimes the new label makes sense.

The newest label I like, and hope it sticks, is Energy Management, and it is an essential element of time management. Used effectively by successful athletes, energy management is something managers seldom think about, other than the old mantra "Do the hard stuff at your sharpest time of the day." In fact, this simple saying contains huge potential, and you will reap great productivity gains by applying the concept more broadly.

Managing energy vs. managing time

This mindset shift is a critical insight. Managers who take energy management seriously find reservoirs of productivity in themselves and their staff members that greatly reward their effort. There is an excellent discussion of it in The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwarz. The authors do extensive work with star athletes to improve their mental approach to training, and they have found that how these athletes manage energy has significant value for business executives.

Let me simplify the concept to make the point:

  • We all have the same amount of time available to us. No one gets more, no one gets less.
  • Most of us don't harness our energy to get the most from those 24 hours.
  • The people who have figured out how to focus their energy magically become more productive at work while simultaneously improving the quality of their family time.

That's a neat trick. So how do you do it?

Shifting the mindset to energy management

Let's look at one example of a changed mindset (from time to energy) that led to great results. We have a client, Gloria, a resource manager with an oil and gas company, who could not break out of a frustrating cycle of time management techniques that were getting her nowhere.

"I was physically tired, professionally frustrated, and emotionally drained. I had tried every popular time-management technique including `working smarter, not harder,' `doing more with less,' and `tackling the big rocks first.' Bovo-Tighe suggested switching my focus from time to energy using Achieving Mastery principles. Once I adopted this Achieving Mastery mindset, lots of things changed. Time management techniques are clearly only temporary adaptations. Understanding my relationship with time, how I value it and how I engage with it is the real key to mastering it."

The results? After several months of diligently applying the Leadership Excellence and Achieving Mastery principles she chose as our coaching focus, Gloria reported that her decisions were more purposeful and crisp, her focus more clear, her relationships richer, and her energy level higher. Gloria has recently received a promotion for her excellent work.

"Now I have the life balance I was seeking. My family will tell you I have more quality time for them, and am 100 percent with them when we are together. They also say I smile a lot more! And my husband went out of his way to take my coach aside and thank her for `giving me back to them.' I did not know I had drifted away, but apparently I had."

Let me summarize the value of focusing on energy this way: You don't control the clock, but you control the energy and enthusiasm with which you manage that precious resource.

If you force yourself to work through periods of low energy, the result will be low-quality work, poor relations with coworkers (who wants to be around an energy-sapping black hole of negativity?), and you feel stressed out and exhausted by the end of the day.

Use energy-focused mindsets and habits to reengage yourself. Raise your energy level - you have it in you if you work to build it up. Others will notice because your attitude and quality of work will skyrocket. You also will find that your new approach will help others find the energy to do it along with you.

We have seen this mindset focus on energy management vs. time management work for our clients for 23 years at Bovo-Tighe. It takes a change in mindset, and it will work for you, too.

About the author:

David Tighe has been helping executives channel their energy for 23 years as a principal for Bovo-Tighe, LLC. Bovo-Tighe helps organizations solve leadership, productivity, and hiring challenges using its MINDCHANGE and Organizational Transformation processes, which have been market- tested in hundreds of real-world business situations. He can be reached at dave@bovo-tighe.com.

Reprinted with permission from HR.com.

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