Productivity: How to manage your energy efficiently
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Productivity: How to manage your energy efficiently

Productivity: How to manage your energy efficiently

You can maximise your efficiency by managing your energy. These daily rituals will help

Gulf Business

Our energy levels tend to fluctuate throughout the day. Some of us have high energy levels in the morning; others feel more energised in the evening. If we have a coffee, we feel a burst of energy, but then feel a drop in energy when the effects of the caffeine wear off.

We all tend to experience a crash in energy levels after a heavy lunch, as our stomach starts the difficult task of digesting food. Figuring out when you have the most energy in the day is key to becoming more productive and focused.

Peak energy phases

Identifying your peak energy period has several catchy titles, one such is Biological Prime Time (or BPT), a phrase coined by Sam Carpenter in his book Work the System. Managing our time, but also managing our energy levels throughout the day ensures we avoid becoming distracted when we grow tired, and we’re able to continue to focus on the tasks at hand.

I often keep a time log so I can check in on myself every hour to ensure I’m staying on task, not becoming distracted by the trivial and not procrastinating and putting off essential work. At the end of the day this allows me to review how I did.

The great thing with an hourly time log is that you don’t have to wait till the end of the day to hold yourself accountable. If you’re veering off your desired path, you’ll be able to quickly rectify your position and get back on track.

One study of nearly 1,700 participants showed that keeping a food diary can double a person’s weight loss. The study found that the best predictors of weight loss were how frequently food diaries were kept and how many support sessions the participants attended.

Those who kept daily food records lost twice as much weight as those who kept no records. The same effect can be seen when you keep a time log – you manage to reduce the level of distractions and increase your focus and attention. In addition to scheduling your hardest work when you have the most energy, it also makes sense to be organised and not haphazard.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Robert Caro, as was revealed in a 2009 magazine article, explained how every inch of his New York office was governed by rules. He had rules about where he placed his books (research on his immediate subject was closest), how he stacked his notebooks (new interviews were stacked at the top), what he put on the wall (an outline of the book he was working on), and even what he wore to the office. Everything had a routine, so that he could bring his full attention to his writing.

“I trained myself to be organised,” he explained as he pointed almost apologetically at his massive writer’s map. “If you’re fumbling around trying to remember what notebook has what quote, you can’t be in the room with the people you’re writing about.”

David Brooks summarises this reality more bluntly: “Great creative minds think like artists but work like accountants.” Caro was not being peculiar. Rather, he knew that success in his work relied on his ability to think deeply, and one way of facilitating this was to remove all distractions from his working environment.

You may not be writing a prize-winning piece, but you will be working on creating value in your organisation and personal life, and why not give yourself the best possible opportunity to excel at it?

Read: How to bolster productivity during shortened working hours

Here are some things you might want to think about in terms of your working rituals:

How long are you going to work and where? Location is important and you must spend some time preparing it so that you can perform your best work there.

What method and rules will you deploy when you work? For example, will you set yourself a timer for a 30‑minute burst of work, or will you write for a couple of pages, or will you ensure you do not browse the internet for the first hour, or will you turn off Wi-Fi from your laptop so you can focus on the task?

What will you support yourself with? For example, a strong cup of coffee or tea, or the right level of food, or a short exercise break, every 45 minutes.

Whenever I’m at my most productive, I’m usually in a routine where I don’t need to think too hard about where I work, how I will work or what will support my work. I plan all this in advance. I can then use all my energy on my most creative tasks.

Rehan Khan is the principal consultant for BT and a novelist

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