Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time

What if the standard productivity advice gets it wrong? What if your performance, health and happiness are grounded in how well you manage your energy, not your time?

Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz’s The Power of Full Engagement makes an excellent case for the role of energy in performance:

The four types of energy—physical, emotional, mental and spiritual—and how they interrelate.

How harnessing all energy sources allows us to optimize our productivity, happiness and engagement in the world around us.

Why life—and work—isn’t a marathon, but a series of sprints (and why you want to manage your energy like a sprinter).

How to get back on track when your energy sags.

The role of your purpose and the amount of energy you invest in yourself vs. others.



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00:00 – 00:47
Rochelle Moulton: We have to learn to adapt our system, our bodies, our emotions, our minds, and our spirits to be able to flex up to perform and then down to rest and rejuvenate. Hello, hello. Welcome to the Soloist Life podcast where we’re all about turning your expertise into wealth and impact. I’m Rochelle Moulton and today I want to talk to you about managing energy instead of time. Now I started down this path when podcast guest, Joe Jacoby recommended the book, The Power of Full Engagement, Managing Energy, Not Time, is the key to High Performance and Personal Renewal by

00:47 – 01:27
Rochelle Moulton: Jim Lehrer and Tony Schwartz. I mean, when an Olympic gold medalist recommends a book on performance, you pay attention. So this came up because a few weeks back, I dedicated an episode to productivity for soloists. And I did that because a lot of us have internalized productivity as going 90 miles an hour to complete an endless to-do list versus carefully choosing what you want to pay attention to so you can Optimize your results. Optimize, not maximize. Well, this book, which I heartily recommend, by the way, is all about making sure you have the energy to tackle

01:27 – 02:06
Rochelle Moulton: what you decide is most important to you. You can’t do everything you want, but you can manage your energy so you can do the things that matter most. Like the David Allen book, Getting Things Done, this is not a new book. It came out in 2003, But the principles are evergreen. And side note, if you’re going to write an expertise book, this is how you do it. 20 years later, people are still talking about it and recommending it and buying it. So Let’s start with this quote from the book. Every 1 of our thoughts, emotions, and

02:06 – 02:50
Rochelle Moulton: behaviors has an energy consequence for better or for worse, which means that your performance, health, and happiness, all critical to maintaining an optimal, soloist life, are grounded in how well you manage your energy. And they see 4 types of energy, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. And when we harness all of those energies is when we can truly optimize not just our productivity, but our happiness and our engagement with the world around us. Another thing that struck me here is that life isn’t a marathon. In fact, it’s a series of sprints, not unlike high-intensity interval training. We

02:50 – 03:32
Rochelle Moulton: just aren’t wired to work, say, 8 hours straight at a desk and perform consistently well without taking recovery breaks. I should mention that before writing this book, the authors had spent 30 years working with world-class athletes in professional sports to design precisely what it takes to perform consistently at the highest levels under intense competitive pressures. Over 80 of the world’s best tennis players, for example, went through their laboratory. The athletes were already gifted and accomplished, so the authors’ focus was helping them to manage their energy more effectively to serve their mission. Eventually, they turned their attention

03:32 – 04:11
Rochelle Moulton: to executives, arguing that professional athletes had far shorter competitive careers than a typical executive or consultant. How people like us manage our energy defines the quality and the quantity of what we can achieve during the course of our careers and our lives. So can you see why I got so excited about this concept? The younger and healthier we are, the easier it is to just power through and keep working longer hours to get things done. But that only works for so long. And I’m not buying that those hours when you’re exhausted were your most productive. We

04:11 – 04:58
Rochelle Moulton: have to learn to adapt our system, our bodies, our emotions, our minds, and our spirits to be able to flex up to perform and then down to rest and rejuvenate. Maximum performance is possible when our energy is pleasantly, positively high. We feel invigorated, confident, challenged, joyful, and connected. So how do we get more of that? All right, let’s talk about physical energy first. I like their comparison of marathon runners to sprinters. If you think about it, the long distance runners usually look gaunt, a little shrunken, emotionally flat even, while the sprinters, and I’m picturing Usain Bolt

04:58 – 05:41
Rochelle Moulton: here, look powerful, bursting with energy and ready to push themselves against their limits. We want to become sprinters who can see the finish line clearly 100 or 200 meters down the track or set a different way. We must balance our energy expenditures with intermittent energy renewal. We have to learn how to rhythmically spend and renew energy, spend and renew. So how do we do that? By pushing beyond our normal limits, training in the same systemic ways that elite athletes do. The authors even argue that stress is not the enemy. In fact, it’s the key to growth.

05:42 – 06:25
Rochelle Moulton: We systematically stress a muscle, expending more than normal energy, and then we give it a bit, 24 to 48 hours to recover, and it grows better able to handle the next stress. And we’re not just talking physical muscles, we’re talking about building muscles in every dimension of our lives, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. And the last piece of building energy is developing positive rituals, highly specific routines for managing energy, which are the key to sustained high performance. So just to recap so far, there are 4 essential principles to manage your energy. 1, draw on the 4

06:25 – 07:16
Rochelle Moulton: separate but related sources of energy, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. 2, balance energy expenditures with intermittent energy renewal. 3, push beyond your normal limits training systematically. And 4, build positive energy rituals. So where do you start? Well, with your physical body, because too much energy expended without sufficient recovery eventually leads to burnout and breakdown. And too much Recovery without sufficient stress leads to atrophy and weakness. So the key is to find the right balance for you. And you can read the book for suggestions and stories about exactly how to do that. But here’s the thing. You

07:16 – 08:01
Rochelle Moulton: follow exactly the same process—physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Stress yourself just enough, recover just enough, and you’ll grow. If you don’t, you’ll either burn out or atrophy, And neither 1 of those will lead to your best work or your best life. In fact, when we don’t invest enough energy in all 4 dimensions, thinking we can just spend energy indefinitely, we can become flatliners. When we’re in flow with all 4, we develop a rhythm, healthy patterns of activity and rest. Just last week, I was feeling out of sorts and realized I’d been giving my spiritual energy short

08:01 – 08:34
Rochelle Moulton: shrift. So I took a day off, I got in my car, and I headed for an area where I feel inspired, and then I spent most of the day taking photographs and just feeling the beauty around me. I went home feeling like a million bucks, and I slept like a baby. Now for you, it might be something completely different. Maybe you’ll go listen to or play some music, have a deep conversation with a friend or a spiritual advisor, whatever that looks like. It’s a muscle that needs attention, especially when you’re busy or your mind is fully

08:34 – 09:11
Rochelle Moulton: occupied. We need breaks, intermittent rest periods to perform at our best. Now, I’ve worked with many clients who are embarrassed to admit that their energy falters during the day. It’s like they think it’s a personal failing that their energy has a valley. And the antidote is so simple, especially for soloists, because you have control over your workspace. Take a walk, do a few yoga poses, take a nap, generally a short 1 of about 40 minutes, according to a NASA study. During the war, Winston Churchill famously put his jammies on in the middle of the day and

09:11 – 09:51
Rochelle Moulton: went to bed for a sleep somewhere between lunch and dinner. And he swore it was the only way he could cope with his enormous responsibilities. Rest and recover, rest and recover. Now this book is definitely targeted at executives with way less flexibility than the average soloist. We are fortunate that we have so much control. But not all of us use that control. Some of us are still tied to that grind because it’s our anchor. We think working hard all the time is required to be successful. But what if working too hard pushes us away from what

09:51 – 10:30
Rochelle Moulton: we want most as soloists? Plenty of revenue, free time, flexibility, and impact. I know it’s paradoxical, but we need to find, not balance exactly, but stress and recovery, stress and recovery, in manageable increments over time. And my most perfect flow of that was probably when I was writing my first book. I decided I was going to finish it no matter what, and I committed to an aggressive writing schedule, 2 hours a day until I produced a first draft. I thought of it much like training for an event. I kept my workout routine intact, so I had

10:30 – 11:02
Rochelle Moulton: that way to bleed off the stress, the worry that maybe this wasn’t going to work. And I committed to not going over the 2 hours. Now, I did slip up 1 day. I was just on fire, and I wrote for 4 hours, but I paid for it the next day. And I learned and I didn’t do that again. I had planned easy to prepare nourishing foods. I told the hubby no fancy socializing, just time with good friends for emotional renewal. I was so in flow even when I got stressed about how to deal with, say, a

11:02 – 11:40
Rochelle Moulton: particular idea or a chapter, I’d stop after the 2 hours, go gaze at the mountains, get a good night’s sleep, and wake up with the answer. And when it was all done, I had a first draft I was really proud of. Creating new things can absolutely be like that when you structure your life and commit yourself to a method that feeds all 4 of your energy sources. I encourage you to read this book, especially for the section on harnessing your mental energy. It is a masterful discussion of how to fuel your mental energy with preparation, visualization,

11:41 – 12:24
Rochelle Moulton: positive self-talk, effective time management, and creativity. They also ask about how you see your purpose. How much energy do you invest in yourself and how much in others? And how comfortable are you with the balance? How wisely and productively are you investing your energy? I know 1 thing to be true about this. When you find your personal formula to harness your energy and renew it effectively, you will literally be unstoppable. So on that note, I shall sign off. I hope you’ll join us next time for The Soloist Life. Bye-bye.



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