How Outputs, not Inputs Contribute to Sustainable Energy

by belinda.

My colleague and friend, James Butler PCC in his 31 October 2019 blog wrote about Inputs and Outputs. This resonated with me as I am always interested in how we manage our energy vs our time.

Inputs are important, but success is about outputs. One of James’ pet frustrations is that professionals are often judged by how many hours they put in, not by how many outputs they create. I was struck by this simple statement. James then goes on to say, “a business that requires key personnel (or any personnel) to work 50 or more hours a week isn’t successful, it’s broken.” So true. The culture of ‘presentism’ is outdated. James nails it with “If you can’t make money working 45 hours a week or less, charge more or stop faffing about…”.

A modern workplace manages personnel energy, not time. Time management is old school and energy management is the way forward. So how do we manage our energy? On an individual level, consider the following:

  • Know the when you feel energised and/or are in flow and begin to structure your work around these. ie: mid-morning, late-night, crack of dawn.
  • Notice the block of minutes you can stay energised and focussed. I use 45-minute blocks as these fit with my meetings, bio breaks, phone calls and physical movement. If I’m wanting a longer stretch say to write, then I’ll work in 90-min blocks. What is your best base block and how can you structure your day to reflect this?
  • What fuel do you need and when? (ie: food, caffeine, water, vitamins, etc..)
  • When, where and what exercise will provide you with the most energy? I like to work in the am and move in the pm. Others like to exercise first thing and then it is over and done with for the day and your metabolism may be boosted. I need to move after 45 mins. In fact I have to move after 45 mins or else I loose concerntration.
  • How can you honour your natural sleep cycles? Be it morning, evening, night-time. Perhaps a Power-nap after lunch? Are you an Early Bird or Night Owl? Know who is who in the zoo!
  • When do you feel creative? How can you give yourself space and time to go for it when you feel it? I aim to have ‘white space’ in my day so that I can move administrivia tasks around to honour my creativity when it occurs. If I can’t, I at least capture the gist of it as best I can and then come back to it asap.

On an organisation level, modern, up-to-update businesses can ask themselves:

  • Are we offering flexible hours?
  • Are we trusting our team?
  • Are we focusing on results (outcome) vs methodology/hours (inputs)?
  • Are we practising Management 101? (ie. no micro-managing!!!)
  • Are we listening? Are we really listening with a still-mind? (link here)
  • Are we asking vs telling?

If not, why not? Perhaps it is time to bring in some current best practises and ideas to stay ahead of the curve and attract the best people. What are we afraid of? Time marches on, yet many folk are still trying to manage time – hanging on to the old ways with tension, fear and power. If you are still managing time, you’re out of touch with the modern workforce and this hampers the performance of care-givers and others, who may be your brightest talent. Manage energy so you and your colleagues, employees, teams (including your family) are able to show up at their best. Sustainable energy management is the key to successful outputs.