How to Manage Your Energy (Instead of Time) and Why It's Important for Productivity

While working from home, this is the secret to getting the most done in a day.

woman working at desk at home
Photo: Getty / Westend61

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When you first began working from home, you likely thought you'd have so much more time, but the simple reality—at least for most of us—is that our at-home workflows don't always go with the flow. In between morning emails, loads of laundry, afternoon Zoom calls, and evening homework checks with the children, you're left feeling drained and stressed—where did the day go? A new way of thinking about productivity is to consider the ebb and flow of your own energy levels: For instance, are you a morning person or a night person? More health and lifestyle advocates are suggesting people pay attention to this throughout their day-to-day. In fact, focusing on energy management can assist you with your overall physical and mental health.

We asked Gillian Walker, co-CEO and founder of The Hot Yoga Dome, certified energy medicine practitioner, reiki master, as well as yoga teacher with 20 plus years of experience, on the topic and how to put it into practice.

The Difference Between Energy and Time Management

Walker says there's a clear difference between time management and energy management. "Management of your time helps you to prioritize your workload throughout the day," she explains. "In that regard, it is the process of managing an external task list. Managing your energy is more of an inside job." Recognizing the parts of the day where you feel the most energized is a great way to prioritize your workflow. For example, if you feel the most motivated to work in the mornings, start your to-do-list by accomplishing the most daunting task of the day first. This way, you free up your afternoon for the less-time consuming and mentally draining tasks. This offers the feeling of self-accomplishment when that task has been checked off the list.

How to Put It Into Practice

When working from home, just as you'd write in a planner to delicate your tasks and time, there are methods to manifesting your energy into productivity. Walker suggests that you ask yourself a set of questions before shifting your time to energy focus: "Does the person leave you feeling drained or exhilarated? Does the activity leave you more anxious or calmer? Does your energy feel like it has risen or has it been depleted?" Walker refers to this as practicing awareness. "The more you practice awareness," she says, "the easier it will be for you to recognize people or situations that drain your energy, and people and situations that refresh your energy." By practicing awareness, you are managing your energy. Slowly, you'll begin to see an improvement in your career performance as well as day-to-day productivity, sleep habits, and overall mood.

Another example of utilizing your energy is to consider the time of day when you feel the most clearheaded. If you are less likely to be interrupted in the evening, when everyone is settling in for the night, consider saving parts of your responsibilities for that time. Like anything when working from home, listen to your mind and body when you receive cues that it's time to take a break. Stepping away from the computer to stretch or focus on another task can free up some of that anxious energy starting to build. Walker suggests scheduling quality time for yourself to exercise, meditate, or enjoy hobbies in order to keep your energy up and to prevent burnout—and know when to say, "no." This strategy can have the biggest impact on our day, time, and energy.

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