I recently finished reading The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. As the subtitle indicates, “Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal.”
I found this book particularly interesting and useful, as it bucks the current “getting things done” and other “time management” trends, and instead focuses on managing your own personal energy stores. As a hobbyist athlete, I have learned a lot about managing my energy, on the mat in aikido, and on the trails when on my mountain bike. The book teachers you how to leverage the same techniques and methods for managing physical energy to manage your mental, spiritual, and emotional energies as well.
Several things appealed to me about the book. First, they immediately keyed in on physical, mental, and spiritual energies – things that I am acquainted with because of my aikido practice. They also introduced a fourth dimension – emotional energy. While I’m definitely acquainted with my emotions, I haven’t always effectively used them to my advantage when it comes to channeling energy.
The book stresses that proper nutrition and exercise are critical to successful energy management. Not just physical exercise, which is foundational, but also mental, spiritual, and emotional. I appreciated their nutrition tips, as they dovetailed nicely with the Medifast diet that I’ve had so much success with over the last year, and their recommendations for regular exercise. This is especially important for folks who spend a lot of time in front of the computer, rarely moving.
Also stressed is the importance for regular breaks to let your batteries recharge. I’ve incorporated this into my daily routine, and am definitely feeling more energetic when I return to work as a result. Anyone who manages employees should be well aware of this as well, so that you can work with them to make sure that breaks are used most effectively. This can increase their productivity as well. Effectively, I’m saying by having your employees stop working for a while, they can be more productive. However, the breaks must be used wisely and effectively. The book discusses how to work toward this goal, as it is unique for everyone. For instance, I “recharge” by mopping the floor in my dojo, or baking a loaf of bread when I need to do something “mindless.” At other times, I’ll do some stretching (derived from yoga poses) or physical therapy for my back and knee, or I’ll go into the dojo and practice sword work. I find that sitting in front of the computer screen using Google Reader or surfing Lolcats is not as effective, but, to each his own.
Even if you have had success with time management techniques like Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, I highly recommend the Power of Full Engagement, as it can supplement, if not replace these other methods for personal productivity.