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Don’t Waste Your Time Managing Your Time

Stephen Chandler By Stephen Chandler

In advertising, we talk a lot about “time management.” Everyone wants to work smarter, act faster, and be more productive. The truth is, we all have the same 24 hours in a day. It’s not whether the time is there or not; it’s whether you’re energized and motivated to use the time that’s available.

I work on multiple creative projects throughout the day. I noticed that if I started working on a project in the afternoon, it would often end up half-baked. When I started in the morning, I was more likely to take ideas to completion—often with surprising and brave results.

Once I figured out when I was most creative, I started structuring my day in a different way. It wasn’t time management; it was energy management—moving the pieces around so that I was using my energy in the best way.

If you’re ready to try Energy Management and get away from counting minutes, here are a few tips that will make you more productive in the long run:

  1. Understand your rhythm. Whether you’re a night owl or an annoyingly chirpy morning person, use it to optimize your workflow. Pay attention to your own rhythm. Take notes. Keep a journal until you figure it out. Once you learn when you work best, you’ll be able to tackle the right tasks at the right time.
  1. Leave your desk for lunch. Nobody likes it when a coworker unwraps an egg salad sandwich at their desk. But leaving your desk for lunch has more important advantages than not stinking up the office. Lunch is the perfect opportunity to give your brain a break. Focusing on your food instead of eating it mindlessly has health benefits, too.
  1. Use your passions. There are things at work, and in life, that you really enjoy doing. So make the most of them. If there’s a part of your job you’re passionate about (for me it’s illustration), go out of your way to do it. Volunteer for it. Take it off of someone else’s plate; and maybe they’ll do the same for you on a project you’re less excited about.
  1. Take micro-breaks. There’s an old-school mentality that leaving your desk is unproductive. But something as small as walking around for a few minutes can reset your energy levels and boost your productivity overall. If you’re in a lull, get away from your desk, grab a glass of water, and take a moment to reset.
  1. Don’t pace yourself. We’ve learned to pace ourselves throughout the day. We know we’ll be tired and unfocused by the afternoon, so we “save” energy when we have it, hoping it will help us through the lull later on. Unfortunately, human beings don’t work that way. When you’ve got a lot of energy, use it! Attack a job and give it your all.

Bringing these ideas to your own workplace can help you work smarter, produce more, and most importantly, feel better. It may be against everything you’ve heard about time management, but who can complain when you’re increasing productivity … and taking your egg salad elsewhere?