Tag Archives: time

Spend Time to Boost Energy and Gain Productivity

By Kim Lowe, Simple Intentions Managing Editor

bigrocks2Time – how to maximize and better manage it – is a popular discussion in our workshops, no matter if we’re talking about awareness in Stop & Think or stress in Success With Stress. We all yearn, if not for more time, then more productive time. In a previous post, we discussed time and balance, and how raising our awareness of why we do what we do when we do it can boost the quality of how we spend our time.

But let’s take the discussion further with an additional perspective on time. For me, asking why I do the things I do when I do them revealed new opportunities to insert activities I value into ordinary tasks. Now, for example, I listen to podcasts while getting myself ready each morning. I love this opportunity to learn something new while completing a mundane task. (Right now, I’m absorbed in Seth Godin’s Startup School.)

This simple insertion somehow boosts my energy and contributes to my overall sense of productivity. In fact, in the book, The Happiness Track, author Emma Seppälä argues the real commodity of productivity – not to mention happiness – isn’t time, but rather energy. It’s the simple – but not always easy – practice of ensuring our to-do lists include activities that recharge our energy. Typically, these are the “important” things we too often push aside: undistracted thinking time, exercise, building relationships, self-reflection. Instead, we spend a lot of time addressing “urgent” items that ultimately drain our energy and sap our productivity.

Start your day with a vigorous workout or centering meditation, and the connection between energy and productivity is easy to appreciate. But when managing energy is too abstract a route to greater productivity, a good time management tool can provide something more quantifiable.

I recently learned an old, but still relevant productivity tool, Stephen Covey’s “Big Rock” theory, which essentially says: Put first things first. Schedule first your highest priorities, the important things that make the biggest difference to your success, however you define it. These are your big rocks. In so doing, you’ll have time for the urgent things – the gravel, sand and water that fill in the spaces around the big rocks. See a demo of how this works here.

Looking closely, the two ideas build on each other. Prioritizing our big rocks ensures we accomplish what’s most important, in turn boosting our energy for even greater productivity.

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Balance Isn’t About More Time

By Jae Ellard, Simple Intentions Founder

[Note: This post originally appeared on Huffington Post.]

timeAs a teacher and speaker on the topic of imbalance, I often hear people express their desires to have more time. Time to do more things – work things, personal things and relaxing things. People are often disappointed when I tell them balance has very little to do with quantity of time and more to do with quality of time.

The quantity perspective is simple math. There are 168 hours in a week. If you sleep eight hours a night, you have about 130 hours each week to spend on work and personal things. Generally, that splits into about 40 hours of work and 90 hours of non-work time each week. The question then becomes: How do you spend this time you have? Or, what’s the quality of your time?

Each of us can find more time in our day if we are willing to examine quality of time. And this requires the skill of awareness, which is our ability to see the world and how we show up in it. As it relates to time, awareness means observing without judgement how we actually spend our time. Just as we might eat empty calories that offer no nutritional value, most of us spend empty time on actions that don’t support our values or move us toward desired outcomes.

Empty time is not be confused with down time, which is intentional and serves to help us unwind and just be. It’s also not flow time, when time seems to stop because we are connected to our passions. Rather, empty time is when there’s no intention or awareness around why we do what we do when we do it.

For example, if you ask me if I watch television, I will tell you I do not. In reality, I spend a couple hours each night watching shows, about 14 hours a week. I don’t identity with spending my time this way, but I do. The same might be true for you, whether it’s television, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Candy Crush, or gossip magazines. We all experience empty time, at least occasionally.

This isn’t to say don’t watch television or disengage from social media. Rather, ask yourself why you do what you do when you do it. Consider if what you do supports your values – or if it’s empty time. Most of the shows I watch are about music, which is something I value, so I understand why I do what I do. At the same, I’m aware of my desire to spend more time watching live music and less time watching it on television. With this awareness, I have more information to make a different choice.

By asking yourself why you spend time the way you do, you can begin to create awareness and seek opportunities to shift your relationship with time. When people act without awareness they tend to feel a lack of time to do things they wish to do. It is through living with awareness that people begin to gain time to spend on things that invite more joy into their lives.

If you seek more time, examine how you spend the time you have and where you can dedicate more time to doing activities that support your values and bring you more joy.

The choice is yours. You can choose how to spend your 168 hours each week.

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