Tony Schwartz and his company, the Energy Project, study the interconnectedness of the quality of leadership, performance of others, and personal energy levels. Not surprisingly, they see a direct line from low energy to burnout to disengagement to low productivity. While every professional seems to complain about the lack of time to manage their workload, Schwartz has found managing energy levels is more successful than trying to manage time. His group conducted leadership style programs at Ford and Sony where senior managers reported personal transformations in how they felt physically, as well as emotionally.
While time has limits, personal energy can be expanded and renewed. The good news is that people can develop alternative patterns by making new life choices that increase energy and therefore productivity—without the sense of strain from simply multitasking at a higher rate. Some of the tactics are simple, but effective:
- Turn off e-mail and don’t take non-emergency calls for a couple of hours each day to concentrate on complex matters that require extended periods of concentration. Interruptions while engaged in a serious task are one of the most common causes of stress at work.
- Take daily afternoon walks outside to provide quick energy boosts.
- Alternate between periods of intense focused concentration separated by intervals of renewal, such as walks or light concentration.
- Pay attention to regularly meeting the four core needs: physical health (eating right, exercise, sleep, etc.); emotional well-being (from being valued and appreciated); mental clarity (ability to focus intensely); and spiritual significance (from serving a larger mission or purpose).
Source: “The Productivity Paradox,” Tony Schwartz, Harvard Business Review, June 2010