We know about energy. We need it to heat our apartments and homes, we get more of it being around inspiring people, and we lose it when our bodies tire out. But I had never thought of emotional and physical energy as a business resource that has to be managed.
Traditionally, when we think of resources we think of time and money. If we are managing people then we realize that people are also resources so we add that to our list.
I suggest we should add energy to that list of resources.
Getting Things Done and Energy
The concept of energy as a business resource made sense after attending a Getting Things Done (GTD) seminar a few weeks ago. In the GTD productivity method, one sets up a series of “Next Actions” steps. These are discreet tasks that must be taken in order to advance to the next step of a project. In this framework, a project can be a large and complex production or it can be a simple as completing an office keeping function.
One participant at the seminar asked, “If you’re always working on the big projects, when do you have time for the little ones on your list?”
This is a classic workplace dilemma and one that can cripple productivity and zap communication.
The presenter’s response was, “That’s why you have different types of projects that must get done. If it’s Friday afternoon and you can barely stay awake, that might be a good time to change out the printer cartridge that’s on your Office Management project list, for example.”
I loved that response and it makes sense. If you’re working on a big project but just don’t have the energy to do an effective job at that moment, then completing a smaller task can actually get you back on track. Work with your energy, not against it.
Prioritizing By Energy
Scott Belsky (@scottbelsky on Twitter), CEO of Behance.com and author of Making Ideas Happen (affiliate link) sees energy management as extremely important in project management.
Energy is your most precious commodity. Regardless of who you are, you have only a finite amount of it. Just as a computer’s operating capacity is limited to the amount of memory (or RAM) installed, we all have our limits.-P.59, Making Ideas Happen
Belsky suggests prioritizing projects based on energy level, ranking them on a continuum from “Extreme” to “Idle” in terms of their energy requirements. In this model, energy is equated with project importance, as opposed to the how-much-energy-do-I-have-at-that-time factor which the GTD presenter discussed. Either way, being mindful of energy is key to leading projects to completion.
I actively plan my daily schedule around my energy levels. Right now, my job search activities are the most important and deserve the most attention and energy. Because of that, I schedule my job search activities at the beginning of each day when I have the most energy and am in “work mode.”
When it comes to blogging, I often start at 10pm and work as late as my brain lets me. That’s when I can write most effectively and not feel like I have other higher priority tasks (or honey-dos) to accomplish.
Do you have formal systems in your workplace to help manage people energy? If so, what are they? How about energy management at home?
Getting Things Done
Łukasz Strachanowski via Flickr