Engage yourself in the living present. The future will take care of itself.
– Ramana Maharshi
The philosophy behind managing energy vs. time is not new. Several years ago, I met Tony Schwartz the author of the best-selling book, The Power of Full Engagement. He was giving a talk to all of us at Miraval’s management. It was at the same time I was conducting my research on corporate wellness programs. Tony’s concept of energy management fascinated me, and we discussed it at great length later during the coaching sessions he’d scheduled with me.
In their book, Tony Schwartz and Jim Loehr, founders and top executives at LGE Performance Systems, offer an executive training program based on athletic coaching. The program is aimed at stressed individuals who want to find more purpose in life and discover ways to better manage and improve their neglected relationships. Just as professional athletes train, play and recover, individuals need to acknowledge their own energy levels. There must be a balance between stress and recovery, and it must be learned, as it is crucial not just in competitive sports, but also in managing energy in all aspects of our lives.
As Tony explained the concept of his book, I related it to my previous career as a professional athlete and the years I spent training for high-level competitions. I realized I was doing what Tony suggested: Preparing for competitions required that I stayed focus on my training and that I had ample recovery time. Physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual energies were to be in total harmony if I wanted to excel amongst the best athletes in the world.
To most of us, organizing our time, making lists, and scheduling our priorities seem to be the key to productivity, success, and happiness. Believe me, I’ve read a lot of books on time management and heard a lot of speakers on that topic. Most of them made sense, but there was only one hitch. It doesn’t work!
Although time management helped me get plenty of things done, I was still feeling overwhelmed with daily unscheduled and non-productive activities, and I was getting drained (this was part of my self-induced anxiety). Even when I stuck to my schedule or priorities, I would often notice my productivity drop below expectation and my personal life was taking a hit (more self-induced anxiety).
Non-productive activities such as answering a text or glancing at your social media accounts are a complete waste of energy and can lead to unnecessary overwhelm and anxiety.
At first, I felt that these unscheduled encumbrances were the simple matter of a lack of willpower and discipline; it wasn’t!
These time management philosophies didn’t work because they fail to address what’s at the core of your time: “YOU & YOUR LIFE as a WHOLE.”
Finding Your Higher Purpose
And then it hit me like a ton of bricks! I wasn’t living with purpose as I was then. I had no desire to thrive. No mountaintop to reach. I needed passion and clarity of purpose.
When you’re clear and passionate about your life, there is a sense of excitement that permeates your whole being. Leaving you with an abundant and more focused energy that enables you to accomplish more in less time.
You get inspired again and are re-engaged to meaningful and productive activities. You cease to chase your tail by filling up your calendar with non- productive activities that trick your mind into thinking you had a full and good day.
Being busy doesn’t necessarily mean you are being effective or productive.
Memory served me well. Managing energy and feeling good was key to my success. I can now see how the entire time management system was completely flawed. Time management is basically a method of organizing that dictates that your most valuable resource is time. Waste time and you’ll kill performance. At the core of time management is the organization of all of your priorities to maximize productivity/performance with time available. All of your time is carefully structured to fit the maximum amount of activities/productivity. Like someone trying to pack a storage room or a garage where all the items are carefully arranged to occupy the least amount of space, all of your priorities are arranged to occupy the least amount of time. This is absolutely insane!
Success is not determined by how long you took to build your business but how well you felt while building it.
Surrender to What Is
I always believed that surrendering to total focus was key to freeing ourselves from unnecessary inner and outer conflicts and allowed us to fully engage in what we do. The following is my interpretation of what Eckhart Tolle said while speaking at one of his retreats on mindfulness:
Doing one thing at a time. This is how one must define the essence of things. Doing one thing at a time means to be total at what you do, to give it your complete attention. This is surrendered action. Your acceptance of what is takes you to a deeper level where your inner strength, and your sense of self, no longer depends on the mind’s judgment of good or bad. When you say yes to the is-ness of life, when you accept this moment as it is, you can feel a sense of spaciousness within you, it is deeply peaceful.