Time is such an elusive topic and even more difficult to capture, to conform to your bidding. You know the familiar recant, here today and gone tomorrow. This can also be said about your favorite time management strategies, tools and books conveniently hidden in corners of your office. Again having fallen victim to here today and gone tomorrow. In fact, when people are polled about their favorite time management tools and practices, we received a surprising response, many have returned to using the traditional paper and pencil list. Why? The reason, the current time management tools are complex, confusing and consume too much time to learn! Too much time to learn, but isn’t the science of time management supposed to save us time?
Could it be that we have incorrectly defined the problem all these years and time is not the issue. This is akin to placing a ladder on a wall to climb and finding out after reaching the top of the ladder, we are in the wrong place. Our current time practices attempt to squeeze more things to do into smaller compartments of time with the hope we might feel some satisfaction at reducing our master task list at the end of the day. And this task list is a monster, gobbling more of our time to manage, prioritize and control, leaving us feeling out of control and uttering, miserably, I am so far behind. Out of breath yet?
Time zaps our energy. Just look at how we talk about not having enough and what it does to our capacity to produce and perform. Familiar phrases, I am running behind, I can’t catch my breath, and I am exhausted. Time is an unruly animal that evades our capture and drains our most precious internal resource, our energy. What is a time manager to do with such a cagey and wise foe?
Power up! Not by the traditional means of more strategies, tools and self help books. Power Up is the New Science of Stamina. In the Harvard Business Review, October 2007,(Managing Your Energy…Not Your Time-a new science of stamina), mentioned a new vantage point for managing time, but fell short in its recommended solutions, relying upon familiar time practices; prioritizing, cognitive reframe/self talk, nutrition and exercise. The article hinted at a different solution, energy management and provided an energy assessment, but missed when it reverted to solutions mediated by mental gymnastics to reclaim your energy e.g. storytelling, alter mental/behaviors patterns.
These solutions share a common point of practice which is intervening through thinking differently. Good starting point, but what if you can’t get the motivation, drive or energy to achieve that right thinking or attitude? How do you proceed to get yourself into that space to take action and execute your favorite time management practice? Some best practices recommended to leap the gap to achieving right thinking to execute right action are; practice, apply concentration, self discipline with all the drive, passion and energy you can muster. And someday, soon we hope, you will be rewarded with the prize; the new skill or mental habit fitting nicely in your life. Why do so many people fail to grasp the prize?
Practice and concentration are often equated with self discipline and perseverance. Self discipline, that ugly word that reminds me of the endless pushups that we had to do in high school gym class or studying for finals in high school. Most of us never made friends with our self discipline. Our current solution, hold our breath, affirmations, meditate in hopes that we can deliver on the next round of performance demands asked of us. Meanwhile, fearful the house of cards that we have erected could topple at the next requested performance. Forcing yourself to get somewhere never got you anywhere except fatigued and sore, mental and physical muscles. Why do you think you can convince yourself to get up and have the juice to execute?
To think differently demands perseverance, self discipline and energy. Zap your energy reserves are depleted in even thinking about the effort to just begin. Anybody tired? The effort to apply mental practices, concentration and cognitive reframe is not the starting point on the journey to resilient performance. Does a train climbing a hill begin the ascent without fuel to meet the change in elevation? Of course not, nor should we start the ascent of building resilient performance at the level of our thoughts. Just as the train needs fuel, we need energy to propel and accelerate our performance. Why not choose a different starting point…begin with igniting your energy.
Energy is the elixir in life. Energy knows no boundaries, does not play favorites or suffer judgments of anyone or anything. It is neutral and unassuming and yet, exquisitely pulsates with life. It is a space without a designated place and easily accessible to you. It is teeming with intuition, creativity, power, spirit and life force that provide the impetus to align your thoughts to your actions. It is a natural starting point to ignite your energy engine.
This is the exact place you want to be as right thinking, right attitudes and right timing are a natural consequence of embracing your energy. Effort and force are subsumed by an ease of skill, execution and engagement in the midst of frenzied meetings and schedules. Your energy supplies the capacity, momentum and focused direction to translate your ideas to right action with the right people at the preferred moment. This energy is an untapped reservoir of internal resources that exists now within you! An internal resource, your Intuitive intelligence, is an added competitive edge that allows you to see around corners, penetrate seemingly unsolvable problems and communicate between the lines.
So what does this all have to do with management of your time? Your energy gives you a new starting place from which to solve your problems and challenges. The idea/action gap is minimized as ease of thought and action lead to the natural consequence of achieving the right result in the preferred moment.
During one of our seminars, a Vice President of a utility firm concluded, it is really not about managing my time, it is how I manage my energy that affects my people and my schedule. Leaders are realizing that there is something more to managing their time. It might be, if you peered around the next corner that you will find that your energy and intuitive intelligence are the reservoirs for exemplary performance in life and business.
About the Author:
Lisa Niederman, CEO, Performance Velocity, is changing the business world with her ETA=R™ — a formula for executive performance that ignites leadership, accelerates execution and delivers peak performance. Niederman uses intuitive intelligence to give professionals the tools to be fully engaged, competitive and resilient. Individuals and teams have taken advantage of this easy-to-implement system that results in faster execution saving time, money and energy.
Copyright 2008 Lisa Niederman and Performance Velocity LLC