A colleague of mine has this quote on her email signature - 'it takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan' (Eleanor Roosevelt) Its mildly irritating isn't it! We know we should, and we don't. We know that a well planned day saves energy and yet every day we run like hamsters on the wheel, and often end up unsatisfied as a result.
So I've nicked some tips for better days, with time saved, and more energy from Tom Cox's website on CEO leadership tips. His sources quote these tips include tops athletes, and even bankers, showing that not only can you save burnout, but you're going to do a better job. More sales, better meetings and in the case of the bankers- more revenue (is that good?).
Planning means focus. In coaching terms 'focus' means you clear you head and direct yourself in your planned direction. Guess what? Our brains like this. We function better and we literally save energy. And in Tom's five steps the other thing I like is the chance for 'happiness'. Don't scoff! There is tons of research to show that happiness is vital to our lives and performance, so it makes sense to include it in our days to get into the 'flow' (try The Happiness Hypothesis by J.Haidt for a superbly argued treatment).
So Tom's tips are:
Five Steps to Energy Management
1. Create a list of the things that give you energy — anything from playing with the kids to taking a walk. These are things that we are tempted to STOP doing when we feel overwhelmed — they feel like luxuries. Keep this list visible at your desk. Make sure you are doing these every day. 2. Stop working marathon hours, and start working in “sprints.” If you’re creating a workday of back-to-back meetings, eating lunch at your desk, and having no breaks, you’re destroying your productivity. 3. After every 90-120 minute “sprint” of work, stop and do an activity from the list of energy-creating activities, to relax and recover. Like a weight lifter who does intense work and then allows time for regeneration, you can literally build your energy reserves by pushing hard and then stopping to regenerate. 4. Take this pattern of sprint, relax, sprint, relax — and turn it into an unbreakable, sacred ritual. The more you create rituals of behaviors that are good for you, the easier it is for you to do those behaviors without having to summon your will or exercise self-control. It’ll actually be easier to be virtuous than to break the ritual. 5. Do not multitask during your sprint — stay focused on one activity that demands attention. While the brain can time-split effectively across one low-focus activity (i.e. ironing shirts) while monitoring a stream of low-density information (i.e. watching a baseball game), you literally cannot focus on two demanding tasks at one time. A teacher can help a child with her reading, while scanning the classroom for trouble. However, once the trouble breaks out, that becomes the focus. (Imagine having a crucial talk with your Significant Other about the future of your relationship… and simultaneously, one of you is also working on the company’s annual budget. One or both of those tasks is going to suffer.)
Tom Cox's blog is at http://bit.ly/iwBs3f
Try it- you can only gain.