The question to ask yourself is not, “How long should I work every day?”, but, “How much energy do I have to sustain an effective and focused workday?”
Peter is a 38-year-old CEO at a multimillion-dollar company based in Manhattan, married with three young boys, Peter was asked by his boss, a current client, to seek help with his overall health and wellbeing and schedule a stay. When he entered my office at Miraval, he was already complaining of a sinus headache he had been experiencing the past few days. I asked him if he wanted to reschedule the session but he shouted: “Are you kiddin’ me?” with his heavy New York accent, “I’ve been waitin’ for this foreva!”
After offering him a glass of water, we proceeded with the session. It didn’t take long for me to recognize that Peter was physically and emotionally distressed. He appeared older than he was. Peter told me of his perpetual and exhausting 14 to 16-hour days and the constant fear of not getting things done. “I hate my life!” he said to me. It’s clear that Peter had a major difficulty finding a balance between work and family.
He felt guilty, which is a very destructive emotion. He also confessed that he was not engaging enough with his children. He slept little and felt restless, had no time to exercise, ate badly, drank too much, and turned to sex addiction to cope with stress. Unfortunately, these symptoms were all stress-related and needed to be addressed.
Like many, Peter was spending way too much time working and had no clarity of intent, leaving him with no energy to engage with his family. During his initial session, I helped Peter reevaluate his goals by identifying what mattered to him. His week-long stay at the resort allowed for self-reflection and evaluation. Peter left the resort armed with powerful tools for balancing work and personal life he’d learned from me and other facilitators. He was ready to change.
Peter’s situation isn’t unique. Most people I work with have a universal and long- held belief that doing more is the solution to their successes. Thankfully, most end up discovering that these kinds of convictions can potentially be dangerous.
Like I said earlier in part 1 of this article, you’re not managing your time. You’re not out there to do more and more time and again in the same 24 hours. The old belief that to achieve more we need to do more is now cliché. The new belief is “the better you feel, the more you achieve”. Investing your energy by managing it will allow you to get and remain fully engaged and get more done in less time.
Think about it. What is it worth having? The ability to do more with less time and feel great, or do less with more time and feel overwhelmed and crappy? I am grateful to have an amazing business, a great family, great people to work with, and to do it without having to worry about my performance or my time.
No one is given more than 24 hours a day — and yet the highest performing people do more in their 24 hours than most do in months!
It is mind blowing if you think about it. What are they doing differently? Well, they’re managing all of their energy rather than their time and are well aware of the importance of focus and recovery process. Their emphasis is on work and recovery. Just like professional athletes.
You can reach optimum performance and productivity by efficiently using your energy reservoirs. This can be done by creating your day in advance; set goals, emphasize your priorities, minimize non-productive behaviors and cut out mindless activities.
My good friend and The New York Times Best-Selling author, John Assaraf says it best:
“Do more of what you love, less of what you tolerate, and none of what you hate.”
I couldn’t agree more with John. The way you feel and think will determine how well you’ll perform. In order to experience a perfect day of focus and recovery, you’ll need a huge amount of mental, emotional and physical energy. Since energy is what fuels all of your activities, behaviors, actions and everything else that keeps you alive, it’s vital that you learn how to manage it. After all, energy is a more limited resource than time, managing it becomes more important than managing time.
A single hour of energy-filled time is better than several “energy-drained” hours. You can be stuck in non-productive and mindless activities and waste hours or be refueled, energized, fully engaged, highly effective, and more productive in just one. Success comes to those who are energized and passionate about their lives.
You must create your day before it even begins. By doing so, you will be prepared to face and eliminate all distractions and energy suckers.
Energy Depleting Activities and Roadblocks
According to workplace design expert Alan Hedge Professor in the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis at Cornell University, 74 percent of workers say they face “countless” instances of disturbances and distractions. “If it’s coming from another person, it’s much more disturbing than when it’s coming from a machine,” i.e. negative or noisy co-workers. Humans are social creatures, Hedge said, which means we are attuned to man-made sounds.
Different things can throw each of us completely off balance at work or even at your home office. Some of us are pushed off by the slightest noise but many think their productivity is killed by bigger disruptions, like unscheduled meetings, voicemail or frequent phone calls.
But In my opinion, the biggest energy depleting actions and behaviors are not coming from an external source but originated from within. Once you recognize what is interfering with your work or focused task, then you can begin to make the changes that will add to your daily performance and productivity.
Now, let’s look at some primary energy-depleting actions, activities, and roadblocks to achieving maximum effectiveness and productivity:
- Lack of preparation
- Negative attitude/thinking Excessive news watching
- Lack of purpose
- Lack of enthusiasm
- Low motivation
- Lack of sleep
- Lack of exercise
- Lack of fulfillment
- Energy vampires or noisy coworkers (people you can avoid and who drain your energy)
Although challenging, most of these roadblocks can be managed or even eliminated.