Energy Management

energy management carey nieuwhof

Time management is one thing.

But we all know people who put in lots of hours and get few results.  In fact, sometimes we are those people.  A twelve hour day can produce less when I’m dragging than a six hour day might when I have energy and enthusiasm for a task. In fact, I’m coming off a season where I’ve invested a lot of time in a way that’s challenged my energy. That’s hardly optimal.  I’ve heard a few leaders speak on bringing your energy to a task and it’s really got me thinking.

What if we started thinking about our work and life less in terms of time management and more in terms of energy management?

If life is a stewardship, one of the best things I can steward is my energy.  Bringing energy to a task is bringing an alert mind and full heart.  It’s bringing optimism and drive rather than indifference or exhaustion.

If I really think of stewarding my energy as much as stewarding my time it would mean:

I need to make sure I show up to key tasks (writing, meetings, family and administration) with energy, rested, alert and ready to bring my best.

I would value down time, because off time actually refuels your energy.

I would pay more attention to what fuels me (rest, exercise,  reading, friends, family,  working on it, not just in it) so that my tank is fuller.

I would be more willing to walk away when I wasn’t bringing my best instead of putting in three more unproductive hours and wasting everyone’s time.

I would be more disciplined with down time because I would realize it allows me to bring my best to work, family and relationships.

Oh – and energy is something that can really help you make an impact.  We all get the same amount of time each day, but energy varies from person to person.  When we show up with more, we make a bigger difference.

What if you started to manage your energy rather than your time?  What difference would that make?


  1. Courtney on March 16, 2018 at 2:37 pm

    I just cited this in a graduate school assignment about work-life balance. Thank you for publicly sharing your thoughts and experience with us.

  2. […] we’ve talked about it before on the blog, time gets measured out equally over 24 hours each […]

  3. Robin on December 28, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    This is a post I have desperately needed. As one who has a low energy level, I’ve spent a lot of time beating myself up over not being able to do as much as I ‘should’. I’ve never looked at managing my energy and not just my to-do list. By managing–and being realistic–about my energy levels, I’ll be able to modify how I approach my daily activities. Thank you!

    • Carey on December 29, 2011 at 12:39 am

      So encouraged to hear that Robin. Hope it helps.

  4. Jeremy Postal on May 10, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    Great post. I find that my energy levels are directly related to how “in-rhythm” I am with work, rest, and partying. Too much work, and I’m exhausted. Too much rest, and I’m lazy. Too much partying, and I can’t get out of bed. For me, this means routine and schedule with plenty of margins so as to live well.

    Anyways, I’m feeling exhausted right now so I should move along. Always enjoy seeing new posts from you in my Google Reader. Keep ’em coming.

  5. Chris Lema on May 4, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    One of my favorite experts in performance (Jack Groppel) talks about the difference between time and energy in this clip ( from the Human Performance Institute.

    The biggest takeaway for someone who still is more busy than I’d like, is that managing my energy means I’m really present when I’m present. I’m still not as successful as I’d like to be, but I’m trying to live out at least the following 5 rules to help:

    1. Don’t bring the cell out during dinner
    2. Don’t take the cell / computer on vacation
    3. Take a nap/rest break once a day
    4. Don’t do more than one thing at a time (say no to multi-tasking)
    5. When distracted, politely apologize and ask them to repeat

    You would think the first four are harder than the last, but it’s been the toughest because it means I have to regularly admit that I wasn’t listening. My ability to respond is predicated on my ability to focus is predicated on my ability to listen is predicated on my energy. If I don’t have the energy, my concentration goes down and the byproduct is scattered and distracted thinking.

    Know what I mean?

    • Carey on May 4, 2011 at 4:03 pm

      Thanks for the encouragement guys. I’ll have to look up those sources. Thanks for the links and practical (honest) tips. So true.

  6. Casey Ross on May 4, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Hey Carey! Great post! I’m reading The Power Of Full Engagement right now. So far, it’s a good read. The whole idea of the book is managing your energy so you can be fully engaged at work, home, etc. Thought you may be interested.

  7. Jon on May 4, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    This is a conversation I would like to hear more about. It will take some time to wrap my head around it.

    • Carey on May 4, 2011 at 4:22 pm

      Jon…I’ll blog a bit more on this later this week. Thanks!

  8. Casey Graham on May 4, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Best post I have read in a LONG time… Genius!

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