We live in an age obsessed with productivity and efficiency, so it’s no surprise that time management is an essential skill. Due to this, we meticulously schedule our days, color-code our calendars, and pursue deadlines with relentless vigor. There is, however, a hidden enemy lurking in the shadows amid all the to-dos and emails.

We call this enemy burnout. It’s a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion that’s more than just working too much. It depletes our energy reserves, leaving us disillusioned, exhausted, and incapable of coping. Further, it has become an epidemic in our ever-connected, always-online world.

An energy crisis at work can have a negative impact on mental performance and productivity. For example, the cost of health-related lost productivity associated with fatigue is estimated at $136 billion annually for employers.

Fatigue can also negatively impact workers at work because it affects the brain similarly to drunk driving. There can be a negative impact on memory, balance, concentration, decision-making, and motor skills as a result of it.

So, what if the solution was not to squeeze more into our days but to make them more effective? And how about preventing burnout using energy management instead of time management?

While energy management and time management are important for a productive and fulfilling life, there are strong arguments for prioritizing energy management. Here are some reasons why:

Limitations of Time Management

  • Time is finite and fixed. There are only 24 hours in a day, no matter what we do. There is no way to create more time. Often, this can lead to feeling constantly under pressure and having trouble fitting everything in.
  • Focuses on quantity over quality. Trying to meet deadlines can lead to rushing through tasks or neglecting important aspects of your life. As a result, your work can suffer, and you may feel drained.
  • Disregard individual needs. Time management techniques and tools often assume that everyone works at the same energy level and in the same way. Sometimes, this may not be an effective strategy for people who are naturally more productive in the morning or need more breaks throughout the day.

Benefits of Energy Management

    • Renewable and adaptable. Sleep, exercise, and relaxation can replenish your energy levels throughout the day. When you are at your peak energy level, you can work in bursts of productivity and take breaks when you are at your lowest.
    • Prioritizes quality and focus. As a result of energy management, you’re more likely to achieve better results and deliver higher-quality work.
    • Holistic approach. Your energy considers your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. The more you care for yourself, the more energy you will have and the more resilient you will be.
    • Recognizes individual differences. Everyone has different energy rhythms and needs, and energy management acknowledges this. You can customize your schedule and work style depending on your unique preferences.

Building Your Emergency Energy Management Toolkit

To manage your energy effectively, check out these key practices to incorporate into your life.

Keep track of your energy levels.

Managing your energy, all starts with awareness. As you go about your day, observe your energy patterns, such as:

Try to track your energy levels for a week, noting what drains or replenishes you. Then, schedule demanding tasks during your peak energy hours and restorative activities during your low energy hours.

Prioritize based on energy, not urgency.

Our priorities are often determined by deadlines or external pressures, leaving us to ignore what is truly important. Instead, ask yourself: what activities energize me and align with my values?

When you’ve answered that question, prioritize those tasks first — even if they don’t have the earliest deadlines.

Identify the energy drainers in your life.

Take a close look at the routines you follow on a daily basis. Do you ever feel drained, frustrated, or uninspired after engaging in certain activities? This might include:

  • Pointless and endless meetings.
  • Constant multitasking.
  • Spending too much time on non-essential or tedious tasks.
  • Constantly checking your email.
  • A messy desk or hard drive
  • Interacting with toxic co-workers.

You can start minimizing or eliminating your energy vampires as soon as you identify them.

Respect your rhythm.

Flow with your natural energy instead of fighting it. In other words, if you’re an early riser, take advantage of the concentrated work hours of the morning. Conversely, schedule creative tasks for the evening if you’re a night owl.

You should also resist the temptation to force productivity during low energy. Take advantage of those times to rest, rejuvenate, or do activities that replenish your energy, such as exercising or spending time outdoors.

Nourish your energy reserves.

In the same way that batteries require charging, you get energy from a variety of sources.

You can boost your energy by exercising, For example, by circulating oxygen-rich blood through your body. It also releases endorphins, boosts mood, and enhances focus. Even if you can only spare 10 minutes at a time, make movement a routine and find activities you enjoy

The same is true for your soul. Nurture it with activities that give you joy and meaning. There are many ways to make this happen, from spending time with loved ones to engaging in creative hobbies to giving back to a cause you believe in.

Schedule “micro-recharges.”

A few short breaks throughout the day can do wonders for your focus and energy. Take some time to step away from the screen, grab a cup of coffee, or chat with a friend. To ensure this happens, add these “mico-charges” to your calendar.

Mind your emotions.

It takes tremendous energy to cope with stress-induced emotions, notes Harvard Health. There are several ways to diffuse stress, including talking to a friend or relative, joining a support group, or consulting a psychotherapist.

Also, relaxation therapies such as meditation, self-hypnosis, yoga, and tai chi can significantly reduce stress levels.

Set boundaries and protect your space.

Get in the habit of saying “no” without feeling guilty. You should set boundaries with work, technology, and even well-meaning but demanding family members and friends. Instead, your time and energy should be protected for the things that are truly important to you.

Celebrate small wins and prioritize progress over perfection.

In many cases, burnout is caused by pressure to achieve perfection. Remember, life is messy, so embrace it.

Instead, focus on progress rather than the finish line when celebrating small wins. By doing this, you will remain motivated and energized throughout your journey.

Listen to your body.

Throughout the day, your body sends you signals about how much energy you have. Don’t ignore these signals. Whenever you feel tired, don’t push yourself.

Recharge your batteries by taking a break, resting, or doing something you enjoy.

Putting it All Together

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to energy management. Make adjustments as necessary after experimenting and finding what works for you.

With this shift in perspective, you can break free of the burnout cycle and cultivate a fulfilling and productive life. Allow your energy to lead you to a brighter future by dropping the to-do list, embracing the recharge, and letting it guide you.


What is the difference between energy management and time management?

Time management aims to optimize your schedule and allocation of hours. In contrast, energy management aims to replenish and direct your physical, mental, and emotional energy.

Why is energy management more important than time management?

  • Time is a fixed resource, but your energy isn’t. Your energy ebbs and flows throughout the day and week, even though you only have 24 hours in a day. Managing your energy comes from working with your natural rhythms and being productive when you’re at your best.
  • Quality trumps quantity. Working for long periods when you’re drained won’t be as effective as working for shorter periods when you’re motivated and engaged. Prioritizing tasks and scheduling them for maximum productivity is easier with energy management.
  • Sustainability counts. It is common for time management to overlook the importance of rest and recovery. In order to avoid burnout and maintain consistent performance over time, energy management focuses on replenishing your energy reserves.

What are the benefits of prioritizing energy management?

  • Increased productivity and focus. You can deliver better results in less time by managing your energy levels.
  • Reduced stress and burnout. It is essential to respect your natural limits and take breaks to avoid exhaustion and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
  • Improved emotional well-being. You can prioritize your mental and emotional health by being mindful of your energy levels and how different activities affect them.
  • Greater creativity and problem-solving ability. Sleeping well and staying energized makes it easier for your brain to think creatively and develop solutions.

What are some common energy drains to avoid?

  • Multitasking. We are mentally and emotionally exhausted when we attempt to do too many things at once. This is caused by switching between tasks.
  • Negativity. Your energy will be sapped when you spend time with negative people or ruminate on negative thoughts.
  • Unrealistic expectations. Having unrealistic goals can drain your energy and lead to stress and disappointment.
  • Social media and technology. Using social media and technology too much can be both stimulating and exhausting.

How can I start practicing energy management?

  • Identify your energy patterns. Keeping track of your energy levels throughout the day can help you identify when you’re most productive and need to re-energize.
  • Schedule tasks strategically. You should plan demanding tasks for peak energy times and leave less demanding tasks for low energy times.
  • Prioritize rest and recovery. You can recharge your energy through sleep, exercise, meditation, or spending time outdoors.
  • Set boundaries. Focus on tasks that align with your priorities and say no to those that drain your energy.
  • Listen to your body. Be aware of your body’s and your mind’s cues that indicate you need a break, and don’t be afraid to take a break.

Image Credit: Kaushal Moradiya; Pexels