By Kim Lowe, Simple Intentions Managing Editor
Time – 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.