Episode 57: Life is about Energy Management, Not Time Management

Do you continuously feel as if your day runs you versus you running your day? Do you always find that at the end of the day you’ve got so many things you wanted to get done, and they’re still staring at your face without a checkmark to the left?

Good morning! I’m Jimmy Williams with Live a Life by Design your Monday morning moments of motivation. I call myself the Pastor of Positivity. I want to let you know that this day is going to be a great day if you will it into existence. And we’re gonna talk today about an important area that we all face. Particularly during times of disruption. We’re gonna talk about ‘Time Management’. I’m going to dispel the myth to you that time management doesn’t work.

What I do want to focus on though today is that the books written that tell you how to gain more minutes in the day, how to game your hours of the day, these things do not work. What I want to say to you is the guy that wrote the book Time Management for Dummies, made millions of dollars, perhaps, but he didn’t really change time. There’s another book called Time Trap that tells you about your day and how it can go astray. Do we really need a book about that? I don’t think so.

There are others that look for the magic of trying to take that same 24 hours that we all get, and extract more from it. Now I am going to say that I do believe that we can use a certain other approach to this that will give you greater productivity, but it will not give you better time management. You see I have tried numerous ways to stop that clock from ticking. I’ve tried ways that you wouldn’t believe, hacks, strategies, whatever it took I could never stop the clock from ticking.

I’m certain you’ve experienced the same. So I want to do something today that’s kind of unique. I like to use, and I have successfully implemented for the last 15 years, maybe more, the use of energy management. So many times, people think, “Oh my gosh, I’ve got so much to get done today”, and they’re not really utilizing a strategic approach to that use of time, and thereby they think that they can manage the time and I’m suggesting to you today that we’re gonna manage your energy to be productive within that time.

So, at the end of the day, no matter your strength or your capabilities, you just cannot control time. What you can do, though, is well within your personal control and that is manage your energy. You know, each of us has a certain bio-rhythm that works within us. To provide a needed level of energy to complete the various tasks and actions required of us each day. Today I’m going to share with you 4 strategies that I use to accomplish as much as possible with as little energy as needed.

Yeah, you heard me. I am going to show you how to work smarter, not harder. This sounds too good to be true, but like I said I have been utilizing these strategies for probably more than 20 years and they work wonderfully for what I do. Now how else could I lead two companies, write a book, write and produce a podcast, and speak across the country all the time? And I never lose my energy during these times of this period of work. The best answer I know is energy management.

Another secret to this, is that I work within what is called my unique abilities. I am not taking on tasks for which I do not have a unique capability to resolve or to handle. Too often we accept tasks that are outside our scope of capabilities. Only because we hate saying that two letter word, no. I’ve been subject to this issue as well. I always want to be helpful. That’s part of my ministry in life, is to help people. And so far it has been a blast in life to help people realize their goals, their dreams, their objectives. Their futures that become, now, tangible after working with our team.

But let’s talk about how I can help you today, immediately gain more productivity in the same time that you spend, either in your job or at home or in your hobbies. Whatever they may be. The 1st strategy I utilize is Task Batching. Now I’m not asking you to multitask, that is nothing to do with this. As a matter of fact, scientists have proven that no one can truly perform more than one task at a time and each task must be performed excellently. There is no way to do two tasks at the same time and perform both excellently.

As a matter of fact, this quote will probably shock you, “multitasking is nearly the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time.” I love that quote. I have read scientific findings though, about the study of multitasking, and my favorite quote is this, “what looks like multitasking is really switching back and forth between multiple tasks, which reduces productivity and increases mistakes by up to 50%”. Did you catch that? If you think you’re really good at multitasking, you’re fooling yourself. You’re making mistakes at an alarming rate in the productivity you are putting out of your mind and body for whomever, your client, your boss, your company. And when task batching, I take similar tasks and place them in order of priority in the same day.

For example, when riding podcast material, I will write two or three episodes in a single sitting. Now you’re gonna laugh, this doesn’t take a lot of time but it is something that works very efficiently if you’re going to be sitting down and doing creative work to do more than one episode’s material. And for me it just makes a flow of my time and energy so that I feel as if I can get up from sitting down for that one to two hours of writing material for possibly three episodes and still feel energized. I do not feel like it’s a laborious task. I feel like I’m able to get up and now go with renewed energy because I show a sense of accomplishment in my mind and I can see it in the work product we put out. Now to be totally honest, as I always am to our listeners. I may edit some of that material before recording, but 90% of the episode is written when Task Batching. You know we schedule the same approach to recording the podcasts. This strategy has allowed me to produce tremendous amounts of content when most people can’t complete one similar important task within the same amount of time.

Task Batching is something I do when I also need to run errands. You’re gonna laugh, if you’ve only got an hour, but you need to do 4 or 5 different things within that hour and you have to contend with traffic, and traffic lights, and you’ve got people in line at the store where you’re trying to get through it as expeditiously as possible. I lay out my thought of how I’m going to approach these 4 or 5 places to visit by looking at them in kind of a sequential order. What would be most efficient, not the most easy, but the most efficient way to approach the task. That allows me to accomplish the 4 or 5 stops I need to make. I’m done within the hour and I don’t feel as though I’m defeated because outside elements didn’t tell me where to go. I chose how to accomplish the task. So the 1st strategy I recommend, Task Batching, not multitasking, but Task Batching.

The 2nd strategy I use for efficiency is to schedule my creative work early in the day. Many of you know that I am an early riser. What many of you may not know is that after 3 pm on a focus day or a buffer day, I am not very creative or energetic. However, from 6am to noon, I get far more accomplished than most people do in their entire day. Why is that, you think? I have scheduled in my planner to accomplish my most important tasks in my day before the phone starts ringing, Slack messages start flying, and other people are still sleeping. What am I saying, basically I have private time to myself to be creative and to find that opportunity of silence in my world that is so needed by all of us that I can really dive deep, focus, concentrate and create those things necessary to help our clients and our listeners gain some real positive traction in life.

Now this approach may not work for all of you. Especially if you’re not an early riser. I personally believe that getting up at 5 o’clock in the morning, 5:30 at the latest if you’re gonna sleep in. Is a very good approach to taking charge of your day. It’s almost as if you can take command because there’s no other opposition to your drag on talents, time or energy at that time of day. And you can go through what, if you remember I call, your start up routine. In other words, how you can get your day through your morning routine to your work and start up routine, and no one has confronted you that could throw a kink or some kind of distraction into your morning or your day.

Perhaps your biorhythms work better after 5pm. Some of the millennials that we have on our team really amaze me. Very talented group of people, very very smart. But they work better at the hours of 5 and 2am, then they do from 8 to 5 pm. And what I’m saying to you is, is we hire individuals to help us fulfill certain needs within our company. And we really hire their brain. So we have a flexible schedule that allows them to be their most creative. And if that’s at 1am in the morning, fantastic. It doesn’t have to be done at a certain time of the day. It simply has to be done in an excellent way.

So purposely schedule your most creative work during that time of day that you are most energetic. A dear friend of mine in Omaha, Nebraska, Ron Carson, our guest on episode 19 rises even earlier in the day than me. He arises at 4am to start his productivity packed day. Ron provided me the top 15 habits of high achievers he gained from studying hundreds of top performers in their respected industries. Within his list of habits are #5, those top achievers that plan their time well in advance. So they don’t waste their day. They know tomorrow, today, what they’re going to be doing tomorrow. They plan a week from now. They plan 2 weeks from now. They plan so far in advance they know they have control of that time continuum and that again is a reason they’re a top achiever, a high achiever. They plan their time well in advance. And #6 on his list, they are early risers.

That’s a simple one I can control. I don’t believe this is simply a coincidence. As an added bonus, I’m gonna share #4 of his list with you as well. High achievers live by the motto, ‘I must do the most productive thing at every given moment’. Now that is good advice.

You know, if you want to do something highly productive and helpful today, go to iTunes and give us a review and rating. Share this podcast with your family and friends. Recently, a 5 star rating by astieb16 wrote, “Listening to Live a Life by Design every Monday morning while I get ready for work really sets a good tone for the day and the week”. Thank you astieb16 for your excellent comment and 5 star rating. Please share our podcast with your family and friends as I asked and let’s share the good news with everyone.

So strategy #1, task batching, and strategy #2 is schedule your creative work early in the day. Now strategy #3, to get more energy management, in other words, performing more in less time and less energy is to exercise daily. I know, you’ve heard me time and time again say the importance of exercise. Do you know that we learn by repetition? But guess what, if it weren’t such a vital component of living a fulfilling life I wouldn’t mention it so often. If you are feeling sluggish around your lunch time, why not drink a protein shake instead of eating that carb filled heavy meal and walk for a mile during your break. This simple act of walking will give your brain a huge dose of endorphins, such as dopamine, this is like a jolt of caffeine but better for you. This is produced by your brain. This powerful brain chemical plays an important part in regulating your mood. You’ve heard people say that I don’t feel good, and I’m cranky in the afternoon? There’s a reason. Your body has not been exercising or creating energy within itself so that it creates the hormones necessary to control your mood.

When your self esteem is boosted, you are more productive. It just makes sense. If the weather is nice, I will hold walking meetings with certain members of my team. We start the dictation app that I highly recommend, it’s called Copy Talk, and start walking. It is amazing how much better you feel when you’re meeting outdoors with the birds chirping, and the wind gently blowing. Now I’m not certain what our transcriptionist thinks, but it works well for me.

The 4th and final strategy is setting artificial deadlines. Now this may sound like I’m faking myself out, or whatever. It may sound like a terrible, simple thing to do, but it works wonders for your psyche. When you place a deadline on the calendar, you frame the project in your mind as something that is given priority. Many of you may have already practiced this strategy in your life. In my task management system, Evernote, I place alarms and dates on all of the projects that must be completed. Every evening while planning for the next day, I will review the tasks that are due within the next two weeks and place the artificial deadline on my calendar. To effectively accomplish this strategy you must leave some margin in your day.

Margin, what I’m talking about is leave some room for some flexibility in your day. Don’t schedule yourself for your full day, if it’s an 8 to 5 office time, leave an hour or so in there for some margin. For some things that you can do spur of the moment or sporadically. You know, to effectively accomplish this and leaving that strategy in your day, it’s easily done if you discuss how you wish for your calendar to be established with your assistant. If you don’t have an assistant, even easier, just take care of it yourself, right? What I’m referring to is that time of day that has nothing but high level work scheduled for accomplishment. Discuss, as I said, with your virtual assistant about how you wish to design your week. Talk to your assistant in your office. Let them know what you wish your ideal week, is what I call it, to look like. The ideal week strategy is something I borrowed from Michael Hyatt. And I call it my high productive planning week. And issue boils down to, I schedule my week in a way that gives me the most opportunity for growth internally, growth with my team and benefits for our clients. The key to this is is controlling that energy within yourself to provide the most valued of services to those that are requiring time of you.

Those 4 easy strategies are just that. They’re so easy, but why do we not implement them? Well I’m going to tell you the real secret ingredient to all 4 of these working is that you implement. You have to put them in practice. You have to gain the right to use these as habits in your life so that you eventually see yourself performing, again without thinking about it, and burning more energy, you’re actually consuming less. It’s now becoming just a part of your day. The other thing I want to discuss with you is just a bonus strategy.

A bonus strategy is to me something that really adds the cherry on top. Here it is. This bonus strategy does miracles for me. I always plan two weeks out. And what I mean by that is, I have control of my calendar. I have control of when I will do something or when I will not. And the key to really making things work for me with consuming less energy, being more efficient, highly productive is those times when I control two weeks out. I look for the next 14 days in rolling two weeks, everyday. So if this is Monday morning, I’m looking at the next two weeks from now to see what must be accomplished. I’m wondering in my mind can I batch some of those tasks that I need to get done in two weeks on a certain day. Perhaps I can move meetings from one day to all of another day. And in my ideal week, I even reserve time to meet with our team. I meet with them on one on ones for those that report directly to me. The key to this is is getting a system in place.

You’ve heard me say before that I use a planner. I use what’s called the full focus planner. I don’t get any money for discussing them, I don’t get an endorsement, I don’t get anything, I just love the use of this planner. It is a hybrid planner that I use, as you heard me mention in today’s podcast, I use Evernote, which is a free application that will sync to everyone of my computers, laptops, iPads, phone, whatever device you use. To me it is invaluable to have something that allows me to be on the go, and still communicating clearly with great clarity to my team. So, think about this additional strategy. Pick up a tool that will help you use less energy, still communicate thoroughly and clearly to everyone involved in the task and then plan two weeks in advance what you’re going to do with your time.

To me, at the end of the day, this is the best way to accomplish all that you must accomplish. I hope today has been productive for you. It is indeed a pleasure to share each Monday morning with you here on Live a Life by Design. One of the goals we have for this podcast is to help reach people and provide them means as well as strategies to gain control of their lives so that you will feel empowered and can live the life you wish. As we have been struggling through this pandemic this last month, I’ve been receiving emails, actually got a written not from someone that listens to the podcast about how they’re actually struggling with trying to gain back control of their life. It seems that this world has stopped spinning for some of us and we are just lost. Well, this is the time to rethink what are my beliefs? What are my values? What do I really wish to accomplish as Jimmy Williams on this planet? And I like to think back and look at my annual goals, now I realize this disruption has probably ruined some of your annual goals. That’s ok. Simply go back to the drawing board, knowing what you know now, and make a new decision. It’s not that you’ve done anything wrong, but who can control the pandemic. I think this is the way that we are going to have to live in 2020. With flexibility in mind, and for those of you that know me, I’m just a little OCD, when I get a goal set, I tackle it with everything I have. But I’ve had to change two of my goals. I was originally wanting to take a vacation to research for my next book, actually, in Europe. We had planned to go to Europe. Well, that’s not going to work out in the current pandemic. That’s not the safest thing for my family to do. So we have to make alternative goals that will still move us forward to grow our mind, to grow our well being. And the best way to do that is to be flexible. When you can’t control the environment around you, you have to control those items that you can. You’ve heard me mention it before. So one of those items is that you can control your productivity and energy in the day, you just can’t control the time.

So, you can become more productive. You can perform at a higher energy level simply by implementing these 4 strategies. Task Batching, Schedule creative work at the best time of day for your biorhythms, exercise daily, and set artificial deadlines. This week implement one, or even better, all of these strategies and track your results. You should feel more productive and more creative, and have margin in your day for other important tasks, such as playing golf. It’s getting to be that time of year and I hope to see you on the golf course, soon. Cause I’ll be out there, Living Life by Design.

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