I regularly seek to learn from leaders who I admire by interviewing them and downloading their experiences. In the first part of a recent conversation with Scott Cochrane (Vice President, Global Leadership Network, which organizes the Global Leadership Summit), he shared three key insights into maximizing one’s leadership endowments. which connect particularly well with some key time management concepts (the important work of Stephen Covey and the 7 Habits, as well as the 6×6 Priority Planning approach).
In the second half of our conversation, I probed further into Scott’s strategy to maximize a leader’s time management abilities. One of the most transformative considerations Scott shared related to energy management.
The Critical Complement of “Energy Management” with “Time Management”.
Energy management focuses on becoming more aware of and understanding how your energy works, then aligning your time allocations to most effectively use that energy. At what time of day and part of the week are you mentally at your best? Some people are really quite mentally sharp in the morning, just after they wake up. Others do their best thinking at night. Some people might have their greatest energy bursts in the first few days of the week, and find that by the end of the week their energy is depleted. By becoming aware of your energy rhythms, you can align (to the best that you are able) the tasks or meetings that require the most energy to those times when your energy levels are at their peak and leave others that don’t require as much energy to other times.
For example, I find that my mental and creative energy is most available in the mornings. Therefore, I try to schedule activities or meetings that will require more of this energy in the mornings. In the afternoon, my energy tends to drop off, so generally, I try to schedule more administrative or routine things, like going through email or approving expense reports, to these times. Scott shared how he noticed that he has greater energy bursts earlier in the week. Thus he tries to front-load particular strategic meetings or critical staffing conversations to the start of the week, rather than leave them to Friday where his energy will be low, resulting in lower quality results that take longer to complete.
Effectiveness is one of the major benefits of considering one’s energy management. Matching our energy bursts with energy needs means less wasted time and higher quality results.
Energy Management and Types of Activities
I think this concept of energy management can also apply to the types of activities we are doing. We are all aware that certain types of activities or meetings can re-energize us and others draw energy out of us. Many times this relates to our temperaments. Classically, introverts tend to be re-energized when they are on their own and have energy drained when they are with people. Extroverts tend to be re-energized when they are with people and have energy drained when they are by themselves. But this understanding of situational energy can be broadened further for every individual. Some people are energized by completing shortlists of tasks. Some people are energized by brainstorming-type activities. Some people find their energy drained by cleaning out their email inbox, others find this enlivening. Therefore, by paying attention to the types of activities we do and whether they are energizing or draining, then seeking to align these to our energy rhythms, we can design our routines to maximize our effectiveness.
For example, I find exercise to be a re-energizing activity for me, both physically and mentally. One of my lowest energy times during the day tends to be the mid to late afternoon. Where possible, I have tried to align my workday to start earlier than most (since I find that I have peak energy in the mornings) so that I can finish by mid-afternoon when my energy is lowest. At that point I plan some physical exercise which provides an excellent re-energizing effect for the rest of the day and evening. We are not always able to modify our schedules to perfectly align these things all the time, but where and when we can, we will see greater effectiveness.
Energy Management, Virtue and Leadership
This concept of energy management is just as important as time management and could significantly benefit every virtuous leader. Embedded in improving our energy management is a deep commitment, as a leader, to self-awareness. And at the heart of self-awareness is the virtue of humility – the recognition that one can be of greater service to others, and one’s own mission, when they have a more accurate assessment of themselves and an awareness of their strengths, weaknesses, gifts, and limitations, and yes, even their energy rhythms. Having a right and true understanding of oneself – neither over nor underinflated –including one’s energy needs and capabilities, enables the virtuous leader to more effectively serve others and their mission.
So think about it. What is the first change you need to make to better understand how your energy works and to align your energy rhythms?
In the first part of our conversation, Scott shared additional insights and personal experiences on maximizing your leadership. Click here to read.