Time Management is a Lie: What to Focus on Instead

Time Management is a Lie: What to Focus on Instead

Time management is often hailed as the key to productivity and success. We meticulously plan our schedules, set alarms, and make to-do lists, all in the name of squeezing every possible minute out of our day.

But what if I told you that time management is a lie? That the secret to true productivity and well-being lies not in how we manage our time, but in how we manage our energy?

Today, we’ll explore why traditional time management falls short and how shifting your focus to energy management can transform your work and life.

The Myth of Time Management

  • The Limitations of Time: Time is a finite resource. No matter how efficiently you manage your hours, you can’t create more time unless you can pay other people to help you, which is a privilege and a story for another day. Because we can’t actually create more time, this often leads to stress and burnout as you try to cram more tasks into an already packed schedule.
  • Productivity vs. Busyness: Time management often leads to busyness rather than true productivity. Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you’re effective. True productivity comes from working with intention and focus, not just filling up your calendar.

Understanding Energy Management

  • Energy Fluctuations: Unlike time, energy levels fluctuate throughout the day. By paying attention to your natural energy cycles, you can align your most important tasks with the times when you have the most energy.
  • Types of Energy: There are different types of energy—physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Effective energy management means taking all these aspects into account and ensuring they are replenished regularly.

Strategies for Effective Energy Management

  • Identify Your Peak Times: Pay attention to when you feel most alert and energetic during the day. Schedule your most demanding tasks during these peak periods.
  • Take Regular Breaks: Incorporate regular breaks into your schedule to recharge. Techniques like the Pomodoro Technique can help you work in focused bursts with breaks in between.
  • Prioritize Self-Care: Ensure you’re getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising regularly. Physical well-being is the foundation of good energy management.
  • Manage Emotional Energy: Engage in activities that boost your mood and reduce stress, such as spending time with loved ones, practicing mindfulness, or pursuing hobbies.
  • Mental Clarity: Keep your mind sharp and focused by minimizing distractions, practicing deep work, and setting clear boundaries around work and personal time.

Practical Tips to Shift from Time to Energy Management

  • Track Your Energy Levels: For a week, keep a journal of your energy levels throughout the day. Note when you feel most and least energetic and see if there are patterns.
  • Batch Similar Tasks: Group similar tasks together and tackle them when your energy is best suited for that type of work. For instance, do creative work when your mental energy is high and administrative tasks when it’s lower.
  • Set Energy-Boosting Goals: Instead of setting time-based goals (e.g., “work for 2 hours”), set energy-based goals (e.g., “complete this task during my peak energy time”).
  • Create an Energizing Environment: Adjust your workspace to boost your energy. This could mean adding plants, ensuring good lighting, or keeping your space organized.


Your Menstrual Cycle

You will also notice that your energy levels fluctuate throughout the month along with the phases of your cycle. Making note of your cycle & your energy levels throughout the month (either with an app or in your calendar) can help.

You may notice the following energy patterns throughout your cycle:

  • Menstrual Phase: Day 1-7 beginning first day of bleed.  May begin with low energy and end with higher levels of energy.
  • Follicular Phase: Day 7-14. Higher energy, more social, more confidence.
  • Ovulatory Phase: Day 14-21. High energy levels, increased strength.
  • Luteal Phase: Day 22-28. Lower energy, lower mood, less social, less confident.

Every person’s menstrual cycle is unique- the exact days and experience throughout each phase will differ, so keeping track of your own body, cycle, and energy levels is important.


People + Energy

Once you begin taking note of your energy levels as a part of your life (and business) strategy, you will notice that some people give you energy and some people drain it.

The people in your life likely fall into different categories:

  • Work people (includes clients, team members, co-workers, managers, bosses, employees, contractors, etc.)
  • Family (the ones you want to see)
  • Family (the ones you don’t want to see, lol)
  • Friends (inner circle)
  • Friends (not inner circle)
  • Acquaintances/Neighbors

Many of us spend a majority of our time at work surrounded by “work people.” We don’t necessarily have total control over this, especially if you own a company and some of the ‘draining’ people you encounter are clients, coworkers, etc.

If you’re aware that some of your clients drain energy, you can change your schedule and adjust your expectations of yourself when those folks are on your roster.

Listen, sometimes clients feel draining because they’re in a tough season, no different than when your bestie feels draining because she’s going through it.

You don’t need to fire your draining clients- but you can control the controllables.

Similar to people, you can group your tasks into categories of energy-giving tasks and energy-taking tasks. For me, this depends on the day (and sometimes my cycle). Doing this will help you change the flow of your day to accommodate for your energy levels.

For example: You see that Linda (a client) is on your schedule for the day. Linda is an energy-draining client. You may decide that today is not the day for you to focus on your social media strategy, because your energy is not there. You can then decide that Wednesdays (or whenever you see Linda) are the days you go for a walk or workout after work because those things restore your energy vs. drain it.

Another example: You see that Sara (a client) is on your schedule for the day. Sara is an energy-giving client. You notice you feel inspired during her sessions and after. You may decide that Thursdays (the day you see Sara) is a good day to focus on social media strategy or content creation.

In your personal life, striking a similar balance can be just as impactful.

You may only have a few open Sundays for brunch or lunch to get together with people not in your Work Life. Once you begin making lifestyle choices based on energy management vs. time management, you may start to notice that just because you have 4 free hours (time management) on a Sunday, you don’t want to spend it with people who drain you (energy management).

Take a bird’s eye view of your week and your month. If you want to kick this up a notch, color code your tasks/to-dos/appointments based on energy-givers and energy-drainers to see where you may need a shift. If you notice your entire week is draining, what needs to shift? How can you make more room and time for energy-giving tasks and people?

Just because you have the time, doesn’t mean you have the energy. This is so important to take into consideration.

Life will often include inescapable energy-draining situations. The goal is not to erase or ignore everything that drains us. The goal is to become aware of our energy and include energy-saving and energy-giving tasks and people into both our Work Life and Personal Life.


Tune into The Confidence Project Podcast to hear more about Time Management vs. Energy Management: