I have been a fan of productivity habits and dedicated all my adult life to improving myself, challenging all my thinking patterns, channelling my belief system and never believing what has been told to me unless I experiment with the tips and tricks myself. I always have mismanaged/misjudged my capabilities to the thing that I am like a Superman every time I will make a timetable whereas life happens and you can't perform at the same energy level all the time. It made all those timetables go waste as following them made it so difficult on a day to day basis and the time invested to create them also goes wasted. I have always made it my top priority to have all the resources available to me before executing and this is one of the worst habits you can have. I read all the books possible on time management from Arnold Bennett to Brian Tracy to David Allen and totally loved following them. These books helped me a lot and I still follow all the principles laid out in them.
But some years back I read an article in a famous magazine (which I am unable to recall) to Save Energy rather than Time. This really gave me an insight into a different world as sometimes in our Services industry, you are dependent on other teams where you have to execute your part once the other party does theirs. In those scenarios, it's necessary that you don't waste your energy where time has no significant value while you wait for the other to finish. When it's your time to show or execute your work then you will still have the energy to go the extra mile to finish the task at hand. I worked on a project where I had to work for 12-13 hours in the night shift in London for the tracking of data migration and it was my first ever such job. Within 3 months of this cycle to work only on nights from Thursday to Sunday, made me like a zombie where my body cycles were all around the place. At that job, managing energy attitude would have been much better than managing time because data migration reports used to come at a certain pre-listed time.
The other thing I learned from one of the other books (don't remember - will update once I find it) is that don't consider your time highly valuable and it will automatically reduce a lot of stress in your life. If you are in a job or work where you are dependent on someone else to provide your inputs, it reduces a lot of stress, anger and irritation if you stop valuing your time much. This is contrary to the thinking pattern all my life where I would give my time the most priority throughout my school and college life. This led to a lot of relationships not getting enough time to bloom and a lot of loss for the networking which could help in your career later on. I could have made a lot more friends and a lot more moments to cherish if I would have not valued my time and my goals so much. This even applies to your first job also that you should never consider your time highly valuable during the initial years of your career as you invest in learning opportunities and networking with your colleagues and it ties back with my Cross-Learning blog post too.
The concept got a new angle in the book The Productivity Project (2016) by Chris Bailey which I just finished listening to this week only. In the book, Chris says that there is a triangle comprised of Time, Attention and Energy in our knowledge economy to get things done or to finish tasks on or before time. It's very much just like the Project triangle where time, money and scope are the three factors governing the overall quality of the project. Chris says in his book to identify the time zones within the day when your body is energetic and your mind is responding perfectly well with all the focus and might. This is the time zone that will help you achieve your top tasks as your mind doesn't wander off. He also suggested that you put your phones on silent/far, notifications off, keep the internet off on the laptop so as to avoid any kind of distraction during these prime hours. I totally agree with all his concepts and it will definitely bring all the attention and energy to focus on your work at hand.
I have felt many times when I take away all the distractions and only focus on one task at a time, not only do I achieve a lot more but also be satisfied as well at the end of the day. FOCUS is something you need to learn to get as and when you want it. This is like a habit that can only be formed if you know where are your time and energy going and how much attention you are during your daily day to day tasks or studying or calls or whatever you are doing. I am intentionally taking away all the distractions during all my meetings so that I can totally focus on the calls and it brought me so much power to think on my feet. If you are doing so many multiple things at a single time, it's so difficult to finish even a single task. Multi-tasking is something we need to take out of our minds. One task at a time will definitely improve your energy usage as you can then give full energy to the work which required more and conserve energy when it's not required like browsing through your social media feeds etc.
We all got the same amount of time but attention and energy vary based on your health and attitude. With the right attitude, the attention span can be increased. With healthy habits, the energy can be improved. With both attention and energy, time can be saved. The more attention and energy, you will put into your daily tasks, the less time it will take you to finish them. If you have the time and attention, you can solve a lot of complex problems because the mind can think so much. When you have the time and energy, then you should work towards your long term top priority tasks and finish them. When you have attention and energy, you can do whatever you want even in less amount of time. When to save energy and when to save time is also a pearl of wisdom that will develop with time as no one rule fits all situations but you should have the tools to use it to change your attitude towards time immediately forecasting the job assigned. As you grow this attitude, you are going to be invincible my friend.
More and more ideas will be shared based on my real-life experiences. You are also welcome to add to the ideas in comments or via tweets or any form of social media comment. I hope you liked my point of view and will definitely benefit from the same as much as I loved saving my energy from time to time.
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