Insights on business,
life, and leadership —
right in your inbox!

Time vs. Energy

July 26, 2022

I think we all understand that time is important.

There are whole courses on time management. It would be tough to find someone who wouldn’t want more hours in the day, or at least more productivity in the hours we have. Time is our most valuable resource, it’s incalculable in nature (we don’t know when our time will end), and it’s the biggest source of regret for many individuals. We spend a lot of time focused on how to more effectively use time.

However, I’d argue that we need to spend way more time focused on our energy.


James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, argues, “Manage your energy, not your time.”

Adam Grant, professor at the Wharton School of Business and expert in organizational psychology, says, “If you’re trying to be more productive, don’t analyze how you spend your time. Pay attention to what consumes your attention.” 

Consider the following table and look at how the differences between time and energy impact the way we can interact with them:

Time is important, but when you get up every day, try to figure out where (and how) to spend your energy. When you find the right focus, you can amplify your energy and accomplish more in a shorter amount of time.

You’re probably wondering, what tactics can you take to manage your energy? I have three suggestions.

1. Perform an energy audit. Write down all the things you do during the day, and identify what gives energy, what drains energy, and what is neutral. All of us have to do things that drain our energy (We don’t live in fantasy land!). So an activity that drains your energy doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, but when you do it can make a big difference! More on that in point 3. 

2. Think about your energy in four main areas. My professional coach Rob McKinnon encouraged me to consider my energy in four different areas of my life, following the acronym PIES:

  • Physical: Am I drinking enough water? Am I getting enough sleep? Am I exercising?
  • Intellectual: What is currently on my mind?
  • Emotional: How does this make me feel?
  • Spiritual: Does this align with my purpose?

3. Reorient your schedule accordingly. Try to look at your week, or even within each day, and identify the tasks that give you energy. Try to have a balance between the tasks that give you energy and the tasks that drain your energy, and work to not stack too many energy draining activities in a row. For example, every Monday morning I have an entire company meeting. Though I love meeting with our whole team, meetings can drain my energy. With that in mind, I shouldn’t leave that meeting and go directly into another one (at least not if I can help it.) When possible, I need to schedule something immediately following that time to give me an energy boost.

Stop thinking only about time management and start to focus on maximizing your energy. You’ll be more satisfied with your daily work and accomplish much more than you thought possible!


Insights on business,
life, and leadership —
right in your inbox!