Have you ever felt like you needed more time in the day?  
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  I know that’s a ridiculous question. Why? Because I know that’s how you feel most days. I would venture to say that you might even feel this way almost every day. I know because that has all too often been my own experience. It’s the experience of every high performer.   So, like you, I’ve tried to figure out how to become better at time management. I’ve researched a variety of avenues to identify the most effective time management philosophies and systems, and the most helpful productivity hacks and tools. And, I would say that I have achieved a good measure of success.   In my search I found three things that have really helped me a lot. Getting Things Done (GTD) , by David Allen is an incredibly effective system undergirded by an extremely insightful philosophy. Evernote and Nozbe are two software tools that I have combined with GTD to really take my game up a few notches.   But within the last two years I’ve discovered something even more important and it has nothing to do with managing time better. I still remember the first time I heard the title of the book. Actually it was the subtitle that caught my attention. “Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal.”   That really came out of left field for me. I’d never thought about managing my energy in order to get more done. But that has all changed. I’m a believer.   I don’t have room in this blog post to lay it all out, but the bottom line is that an increased level of energy has an enormous impact on the gains you can experience in productivity.   Let me very briefly share with you four simple things that have changed the game for me.

Energy Creating Steps

The first three items below have definitely had the most immediate and noticeable impact, but the last one has been scientifically proven to move the needle with regards to energy and productivity.   1. Remaining deeply connected to a strong sense of purpose. This is huge for sure. The more confident I am that what I’m doing is making a difference in the world and that it’s a significant part of the reason why I’m here, the more energized I will be and remain.   This has an impact at both an intellectual and an emotional level. You want to know that what you’re doing is important. Everyone does.   Last year I revised my personal mission statement and the core values, or principles, that drive me. I also created some life goals. To keep these top of mind for me I have created a note in Evernote that has them spelled out clearly and have also created a habit of reviewing them each Monday morning.   This basic review and few moments allows me to connect what I am doing this week with a compelling vision. That sense of being on mission is deeply satisfying and energizing.   2. Taking a nap. This may sound wimpy or difficult, or both. Actually, as busy as I am, I’ve found it rather easy to work this into my schedule three or four times per week. And I’ve been surprised by how big of a difference this has made for me.   I created a playlist on my phone of relaxing music that I play almost every time I take my nap. This habit has increased the effectiveness of my nap, because as soon as my brain hears that music set it knows it’s time to shut down and rest. I only take 15-20 minutes to lie down and rest, but it has transformed my afternoons.   I used to think naps were for babies and young children. Not anymore.   3. Getting into a basic exercise routine. This is something I’ve wanted to do for years. I took positive steps last year, but have really ramped it up in the last six months. I used to think I didn’t have time for this. I knew better, but it was a convenient excuse.   I haven’t gotten fanatical about it. I’m taking measured, intentional steps forward. I work out for about 45-50 minutes three or four days a week. I’m combining interval training on the treadmill or recumbent bike with strength training in the weight room.   My older children and I leave the house about 5:45am and are home by 7:30am. We’ve all worked out, showered and are dressed and ready for the day. It used to be really hard for me to get up early, but doing it together with my family has definitely made it much easier, and now the habit is firmly established and my body expects it.   4. Creating a rhythm of sprints and breaks. There is a significant amount of science behind this, but let me give you the super duper cliff notes version. Our minds and bodies are not really made to stay engaged at peak levels for overly long periods of time. Research has revealed that doing our work in 90-minute sprints, with short (10-15 minute) breaks in between, is the best way to achieve maximum performance.   As an introvert I have an inherent ability to sit and work for hours on end. And, there are going to be times when that is necessary. But that’s not the most productive way to schedule my work. Our bodies can endure these days every now and then, but aren’t designed for it consistently.   Identify simple ways to step away from your work for short periods, like listening to music, taking a short walk, doing stretching exercises or getting a cup of coffee and chatting with a friend. Be intentional about working these breaks into your day and commit to high intensity concentration and output during the 90-minute work sprints.  

Encouraged and Anticipating

I can literally feel the difference in my energy level because of these small adjustments in my day. It’s been very encouraging. And, I continue to look at my calendar and try to find ways to build in more daily naps and a more consistent set of sprints and breaks.   There’s also more to this science that I have yet to study and implement so I am filled with a strong sense of anticipation of the productivity gains that await me as I improve my energy management.   Question: Which one of these do you think would be the easiest for you to implement and what is one step you can take this week to begin? [question]add-hours-tod-day[/question]  
Seize the day!