I think we all have uttered the phrase, "I just don't have enough time" at least once in our lives. And I'm sure we've said this phrase more in our adult lives than we ever did as children. "I don't have enough time to workout." "I don't have enough time to cook meals, manage the kid's schedules, and find time for myself." Regardless of what you are saying you don't have enough time for, one thing is certain, you just don't have enough time. Or do you?

The productivity time trap

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of time management apps and programs available for free or purchase to help you "find the time." Here's the thing though, the number of hours in a day haven't changed and downloading an app, only works as long as you remember to use it. But somehow, we've bought into the productivity time trap of, if I make more time, I'll be more productive. This is just not the case. You can download all the time management apps in the world and yes, some will help, but it doesn't mean you'll be automatically more productive. 

How you think about productivity

Is being productive just checking items off our lists or is it doing something that needs to be done and doing it well? For me, its a blend of both. It's incredibly satisfying to check off something like do the laundry or go to the grocery story but I feel truly productive when I do something that takes a little more effort and I do it well. The problem there is, that in most cases, it's not that I don't have the time to complete those tasks that take more effort... it's more so that I don't have the energy. 

Managing your energy throughout the day

I am a morning person. I can get more done before 9 am than most people I know. But come 11 am... I hit a wall. Some days, I can climb over that wall and keep going. Other days, it is impossible for me to find the energy to do more than lay down for the rest of the day. Do you know the key differences between wall days and non-wall days? 

  • I ate breakfast. 
  • I got enough sleep. 
  • I am drinking lots of water. 
  • I'm breaking up monotonous tasks with fun, rejuvenating tasks. 

Those things are items that give me energy, not time. If I manage and support my energy throughout the day I am very productive and I can engage in meaningful activities. When I don't manage my energy, I'm essentially a slug and I WASTE time! 

Taking time to recharge

Here's how I figured this out: When I work on my laptop at home (usually Saturdays), I am spending hours looking at the screen and trying to "power through" whatever work I have. When I get like that, I tend to not eat as I should, I don't drink as much water as I should and I don't break up the workload until I'm done. In short, even if it's only for a few hours, I end up a total exhausted mess, incapacitated for the remainder of the day. 

In the middle of all of that, my laptop battery is complete crap. It dies every three hours if it's not on a charger. Normally I would just plug it in and keep working but one day, I decided to plug it in and walk away until it was fully charged again. This then gave me plenty of time to eat, to do another (usually fun) task, and to recharge enough to get back to work. My crap little battery taught me the important lesson of managing my energy. Just like my laptop needed power/energy to keep going, so did/do I. 

Energy, not time, leads to a happier life

When you manage your time, you tend to feel harried, exhausted and stressed. Managing time can also take away from relationships and being present in the moment. You're always thinking about the timeframe you have to work within or be finished by. When you manage your energy, you tend to accomplish tasks much faster and with more presence. 

Long term happiness comes from supporting and maintaining your energy to complete all those things you never have time for. It's not about time... it's about energy. 

How do you feel about time vs energy and getting things done? 

Photo by Jan Erik Waider