Recently, I was reading “The Productivity Paradox” by Tony Schwartz on Harvard Business Review and it was something of a revelation to me. Every day we hear people struggling with time management but what about the idea of managing energy not time?

Tony Schwartz is the CEO of The Energy Project and one of the things he has realized over the last decade is that burnout was one of the leading causes of declining work performance and employee disengagement. He also discovered that burnout can be avoided by managing an employee’s energy as opposed to their time. He says “Time, after all, is finite. By contrast, you can expand your personal energy and also regularly renew it.”

I immediately connected what Tony learnt with what I know and understand of the Emergenetics Profile, especially since many Associates informally refer to our Thinking Preference Percentile bars as “Energy Bars”.

The Emergenetics Profile, as a brain-based psychometric tool or personality test, gives us insight to how we, or the people we work with, prefer to think and behave. With the knowledge about one’s preference, we can then understand their motivations, what gives them energy, and also what “sucks” energy from them. Which means you can be better at managing energy not time.

Very often, at work, we confuse what someone is good at with what someone likes to do. Through this lens, we are also able to understand how to motivate and energize people. Emergenetics provides us with a common language and a non-threatening platform in which we can engage peers as well as bosses/subordinates. For example, if you have a Conceptual (yellow) preference and you are engaging with someone who has a Structural (green) preference, you might feel rather frustrated as you tend to be more forward-looking versus your colleague who is more cautious. Instead of feeling that he/she is out to burst your idea bubble, take a different energy approach—you might say:

“I understand and appreciate your cautious view. I know you’re helping me to see the steps towards making my idea a reality”.

All of a sudden, what you would have taken personally is no more than just a different approach or perspective.

For those interested in organizational development (OD), this small difference in perspective goes a long way in building a culture of trust. Over time, this culture of trust will then permeate layers throughout the organization, and before you know it, a much-evolved organizational behavior or even organizational DNA has been crafted through this organic organizational change process.

I may be over-simplifying a complex issue, so let’s take a look instead at something much more within our control – what we can do for ourselves in the meantime to work smarter and prevent burnout. According to HBR, you can try the “4 Tips for Managing Your Energy, Not Your Time” or if you want the longer article, “Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time.

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