“The ultimate measure of our lives is not how much time we spend on the planet, but rather how much energy we invest in the time we have. “
– Jim Loehr
Today’s business culture is obsessed with time efficiency. We hear it all the time: “Time is money.” Our computers, mobile phones, and 24/7 wired culture are all designed to save us time.
But what use is time if our energy is lacking? If I can free up one more hour, but I’m bored, distracted, or can barely keep my eyes open, what’s the point? Results don't come from the hour we set aside, but rather the energy and focus we give to each hour.
Performance is grounded in the skilful management of energy, not time.
Entrepreneurs seeking peak performance must manage their energy the same way professional athletes do. They must build rest and recovery into their work schedules and identify the conditions that lead to peak performance. Like athletes, entrepreneurs must train to maximize the quantity, quality, focus and force of their energy.
Think of your greatest work accomplishments and insights. Did they come after working continually for days on end or in bursts of focused energy?
Prioritizing how we spend our time is important. But prioritizing how we spend our energy is even more critical. The first step is figuring out at what time of day we are functioning at our maximum effectiveness.
Sam Carpenter, in his book Work the System, calls this our “Biological Prime Time” or “BPT.”
Think of the times during the day that your energy level peaks and your thinking is most clear. My peak period is from 9am – 12pm. I am usually okay from 2-4pm but am pretty much worthless from 4-6pm. Usually I’ll have one last mini-kick where I can work after dinner from 8-11pm (if I haven’t been drinking!). The downturns in energy are the easiest to identify – they hit you like a hammer. Our days and hours each have a cycle of activity and rest (circadian and ultradian rhythms, respectively).
For the population as a whole, a general surge of energy occurs during two periods of the day. The first is in the morning around 8am and extends 4-5 hours. The early-to mid-afternoon hours are low key (hence siestas, it’s been proven that humans are generally sleepiest between 3-4pm) and around 5pm energy picks up again. At around 10pm mental sharpness begins to decline...
As entrepreneurs we have the luxury to make our own schedules. When is your BPT, when focus comes easier? Zealously guard those hours from distraction and save them for your most important work.