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Managing your time decreases productivity – manage your energy instead

Managing your time is useless if you’re not managing your energy too. Stop forcing yourself through a project and take time to rest. You will save yourself time and increase productivity.

Nine to five every day, regardless of how late you stayed up finishing a project, or the severity of the aches and pains caused by chronic stress. That is the minimum requirement in the business world.

We all know just how difficult it is to work when we’re not feeling right. The simplest of tasks can take hours and the work day usually ends with a frantic rush to do our duties, leaving us feeling even worse than before.

Managing your time - Compelo
Flickr/Adam Lynch

Likewise, we all know just how much productivity increases after a good night’s sleep or lengthy vacation. And yet, we continue to attempt to manage our time, despite knowing that managing our energy levels allows us to get more done in less time.

Create a list, rank each of your day’s tasks by priority and assign set times to complete each task. That’s the advice that you will receive if you look for ways to maximise your productivity and manage your time effectively.

Yet, while you may see short-term benefits, it is unlikely to produce long-term results. Chances are, as your workload and stress levels pile up, you will run out of time. As a result, your work will begin to eat into your personal time. Exhaustion, stress and burnout are just around the corner.

Managing your time - Compelo

Studies that prove managing your time is counterproductive

After growing tired of 11 hour shifts, artist and author Lisa Congdon found a better way to manage her time, which increased her productivity and lowered her stress levels simultaneously.

Following often unhelpful time management advice, she decided to split her day into 45-minute segments. However, rather than assigning a work task to each, she left them open. When Congdon feels energised, she puts all of her effort into working through that 45-minute slot. However, if unproductivity strikes, she spends the next segment focusing on rest and relaxation, through meditation, exercise and sleep.

Managing your time - Compelo

She quickly found out that she was able to complete the same amount of work as usual, despite putting in less time. All while feeling less stressed and more refreshed.

Congdon’s findings reflect previous studies. IT company The Draugiem Group, who are behind productivity-tracking software DeskTime, found that the top 10% of employees put in the same amount or less hours as their co-workers.

In fact, the study found that top employees only work for approximately six hours during an eight hour shift. For every 52 minutes of work that they put in, they follow it up with a 17 minute break. Yet, they performed better than those that worked through the eight hours without taking a break.

The results are as clear as day. No matter how well you plan and schedule, managing your time will all be for nothing if you aren’t dedicating some of it to recouping your energy.

Read more:

How to use your time wisely as the end of the workday approaches

Sleepless nights? We asked an expert about the new high intensity sleep trend

Work related stress: Does your employer care about you?