By now, anyone with even a passing interest in self-help and productivity advice has heard the old adages about how time is the most precious of all of our resources, and the one thing that we can’t get more of. Superblogger Nicolas Cole writes that time is our most valuable resource, but Charlie Gilkey tells us that “time management, as a concept, is bankrupt”.
Why You Really Don’t Have a Time Management Problem
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” — Stephen Covey
In fact, each one of us has all the time in the world.
No more. No less.
Thinking about time as your “most precious” and “finite” resource is a scarcity mindset trap. What Nicolas and others overlook is that productivity requires more than time. It also requires your energy.
We’ve all had the experience of having spare time, but no energy. Although we say we really want to hop on the treadmill or go for a run, if we haven’t got the energy, we’ll stay on the couch.
To really improve your productivity, you have to watch your energy more carefully than your time.
And here’s the difference between the two:
- Time is finite. Sure, we can delegate tasks and we can become more efficient, but as Khe Hy says, the richer you are, the more stressed about money you are. If “time is money,” then why can’t money buy us more time? Because there’s nothing we can do to make more or less time. It moves at its own pace.
- Energy is infinite. The things we do can create or destroy our psychological energy. Some activities require recovery periods — like working at jobs we hate. Other activities give us back way more energy than we invested in the first place. Dance class is one of those things for me. And yoga. And drawing. And writing. And teaching. When I’m really challenged in something that I care about, I have so much energy that I lose track of time. That state is called flow.
The more we invest our energy into those things that rejuvenate us, the more energy we have.
To improve your productivity, manage your energy (instead of your time).