Should you be budgeting your time or your energy? What’s the difference?


You are likely to have heard and even have attended at least one HR brown bag session in the past that teaches employees about time management.  The strategy is quite simple to follow: you’re asked to calendar all of your daily to-do’s and to make sure you ticked off every item in your checklist by the end of the day.

The problem with this strategy, however, is that you always seem to be running out of time or, there’s always something getting between you and your to-do, including tasks that you haven’t calendared yet but that need to be turned in right now as instructed by an email that you received just five minutes ago.

Is managing your energy better?

More recently, management thought leaders have veered away from time management and has begun to shift focus on energy management.  In fact, managing energy has very ancient origins, the wisdom of which is only beginning to be rediscovered.

Below are the reasons why energy management has clear advantages over time management:

Energy is within your control. Time is not If you were to make improvements in the way that you work, it is more rational that you try to influence what is in your power to control, that is, energy.  Energy management is built on the foundation that we all have limited energies inside our system to expend on things that we need to do.  However, if we expend our energies efficiently, such as by focusing on one task at a time, rather than multi-tasking, we are able to save our energy and use it for something else.  Some techniques, in fact, even allow more energy to be produced by the body, such as in situations where motivation and the flow of ideas are at their peak.

Energy management enhances creativity and productivity.  Time management treats you like a machine.  Such that, if you scheduled a task to start at 9 am and finish at 10 am, it should be done right on the spot or else, all of your succeeding schedules will have to be moved back, and delivery is delayed as a result, not to mention that you also end up negatively stressed.

Energy management proponents preach that you are at your peak of effectiveness and productivity when you are able to allow ideas to flow.  At points like which, your brightest ideas come alive with very little effort to have to figure out the solution to your task’s most difficult equations.

Energy management emphasizes on a more holistic approach of doing things.  It fuses the energies that can be derived from the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual state and teaches adherents that these energies can be recycled and renewed so that energy never runs out, and therefore productivity never stops.

What benefits can you derive from managing your energy?

One of the stalwart promoters of the philosophy of energy management, Tony Schwartz, through the Energy Project, teaches that:

Physical energy is the foundation of healthEnergy is manifested to us via physical means.  Getting enough rest and sleep, fuelling our bodies with a clean and energy boosting diet, and keeping our bodies fit all affect how we cope with matters that require us to expend our energies and how much energy is at our disposal to allocate.

Emotional energy is the foundation of happiness.  It is the kind of energy that keeps us inspired and motivated.  It may be about receiving material rewards but also getting verbal praises and recognition for the good work we’ve done.

Mental energy is the foundation of focus.  It is the kind of energy that allows us to do our tasks smoothly and without interruption, and deliver outputs without delay.  The Energy Project teaches that it is fuelled by mastering the art of looking into the details and how every detail fits into the bigger puzzle.

Spiritual energy is the foundation of purpose.  It is the kind of energy least manifested to us and yet it is what determines how important we are or not in the larger scheme of things, something that goes beyond ourselves and, perhaps, affects humanity.


There is clearly advantages for all of us to reap from taking on a more energy-driven management strategy in the way we do things everyday rather than employing a time-driven management approach.  The recognition in itself that we only have so much energy to spend doing something prompts us to do things right, by doing it carefully, every time.  Also, energy management teaches us to conserve our energies by learning to focus only on things that matter the most and let energy wasting situations, such as engaging in heated discussions, pass.

So, cheer up, Modern Woman!  There is a way out of the maze your messy life has created!


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