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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

Focus on managing your energy, not your time

In order to increase productivity, it is critical that you decrease the amount of energy you put into activities that do not correlate with your desired results.

Focus on managing your energy, not your time
[Jacob Lund/Adobe Stock]
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In my years of experience working very closely with hundreds of CEOs and key executives, I’ve watched as the vast majority of them have struggled with the notion of “managing it all.” Every time I encounter this train of thought, I push back and inform people that their issue is less about time management than it is about energy management. If you’ve ever asked yourself why and how you’re spending so much of your energy attempting to manage time, you’re not alone.

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What’s unique about time is that it never changes. It always moves at the same pace, and there is never any ambiguity about when the next second, minute, or hour will emerge. Environments change, circumstances change, barriers emerge, challenges repeatedly show up. Life happens, and people also change. But time is always the same. In my experience, as long as you keep investing so much effort into managing time, stress will be inevitable.

Managing energy is far more critical than managing time.

One of my favorite statements comes from my close friend, business partner, and motivational speaker, Dr. Eric “ET” Thomas. He often says, “Where your focus goes…your energy flows.” That statement is indicative of the fact that although we cannot control time, we ultimately have the power to control how we leverage our energy within the context of it. According to a recent article in Newsweek, the average person has more than 6,000 thoughts per day during their active hours. That’s approximately 375 thoughts per hour for a person averaging 8 hours of sleep per night.

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With this in mind, imagine how many opportunities there are in just a single day to distract you from your commitment to completing specific tasks. Consider this: How you are spending your time is likely a result of how you are directing your energy. In turn, your productivity primarily depends not on your ability to plan and allocate your time, but on your ability to discipline yourself. You have to be able to rein in your thoughts and behaviors (and therefore your energy). If your energy is negative, it could be substantially impacting your ability to achieve the results you seek in life and in business.

If you intend to increase your productivity, one of the most difficult but worthwhile assignments for you going forward is to evaluate and manage your emotional state. I will go out on a limb and suggest that most people don’t realize how much influence their emotions have on their thinking and day-to-day decision-making. Because your feelings and impulses have so much influence over your thoughts, they also influence your actions and behaviors. As a result, your energy could be the reason you feel depleted, unfulfilled, or out of alignment with the goals you’ve set for yourself. In order to increase productivity, it is critical that you decrease the amount of energy you put into activities that do not correlate with your desired results. The better you are at managing you, the better the results you will see.


Anthony Flynn is Founder of Amazing CEO; Increasing Productivity, Profitability and Inspiring Disruptive Hacks for CEOs and Key Executives