Manage your Energy, not just your Time

Work in sprints to manage your energy

One of the books that changed the way I live and work is the insightful and aptly named “The Way We’re Working isn’t Working” by Tony Schwartz.

The book preaches the gospel of strategically managing your energy and attention levels. Humans are not machines; we need to balance energy expenditures with restorative breaks in order to get optimal performance​ from ourselves (and our teams). This is especially true today when the majority of us are performing knowledge work. ​Does anybody think that they’re as good at spotting errors in a spreadsheet after doing it for four hours straight?

Since I read his book a decade ago, I’ve developed the habit of ​working in 90-minute ‘sprints’​. Studies have shown that this seems to be the upper limit of sustained, uninterrupted ‘​deep work​’ that we can crank out before our output starts to diminish significantly.

The ​best way to deliver high-quantity ​and high-quality product is to alternate ​limited​ periods of intense intellectual work with ​regular​ rest and renewal pauses​. Think of it as HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) for the mind.

Energy is renewable but finite, as is attention. Manage both​ as carefully as you do your time in order ​to get maximum results​ out of your day.

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Ion Valis

I share the best insights from science, strategy, and philosophy to help people perform, transform, and flourish. |