7/12/10 “Energy”

Good day, team,

This week’s challenge is about the importance of managing your energy rather than your time.

In the June 2010 “Harvard Business Review,” Tony Schwartz, the CEO of the Energy Project, published an article titled “The Productivity Paradox: How Sony Pictures Gets More Out of People by Demanding Less.” Ten years ago, the Energy Project started to address the subject of work performance and the problem of employee disengagement after a poll of 90,000 employees worldwide revealed that only 21 percent feel fully engaged at work, whereas 40 percent are disenchanted and disengaged.

When the Energy Project discovered that burnout was one of the leading causes of disengagement, members of the staff decided to focus exclusively on helping people manage their energy instead of just their time.

According to Schwartz, “Time, after all, is finite. By contrast, you can expand your personal energy and also regularly renew it. Once people understand how their supply of available energy is influenced by the choices they make, they can learn new strategies that increase the fuel in their tanks and boost their productivity. If people define precise times at which to do highly specific activities, these new behaviors eventually become automatic and no longer require conscious will and discipline. We refer to them as rituals. They’re simple but powerful. They include practices such as shutting down your e-mail for a couple of hours during the day, so you can tackle important or complex tasks without distracting interruptions, or taking a daily 3 p.m. walk to get an emotional and mental breather.”

The article goes on to describe how the Energy Project designed an energy-management program for Sony Pictures, starting at the top of the organization. To date, more than 3,000 of the company’s 6,300 employees have been through the program and already the reaction to it has been overwhelmingly positive. More than 90 percent say it has helped them bring more energy to work every day. Eighty-four percent say they feel better able to manage their job’s demands and are more engaged at work. Despite the recession, Sony had its most profitable year to date in 2009.

Whether you set aside an uninterrupted 60 to 90 minutes each morning to focus on your top priorities or you intentionally breathe to calm down when something irritates you, there are many ways to renew yourself so you have enough energy to meet your needs. Here are some do’s and don’ts from the article to help you re-energize and renew:

θ    Take back your lunch—get away from your desk and leave the office so you can refuel.
θ    Communicate what you value in others; write a note of appreciation to someone.
θ    Cultivate creativity by setting aside an informal, relaxing space at work for creative thinking and brainstorming.
θ    Share your passion by communicating what you stand for and what gets you up in the morning.


θ    Avoid conflict by ignoring a situation. Don’t be afraid to have courageous conversations: communicate directly and honestly, with sensitivity.
θ    Try to do multiple things at the same time. Make an effort to give people your full focus; try to listen and not interrupt (don’t be fooled into thinking you can multi-task: recent studies have shown that when we multi-task, our ability to do anything with proficiency goes down).
θ    Be self-absorbed. It’s easy to make any situation all about you. Try stepping beyond your own immediate needs to better serve the needs of others; put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

On his website, Schwartz writes, “Leaders can easily underestimate how their attitudes and behaviors affect the energy levels of their teams. Because energy is contagious, both the quality and quantity of a leader’s energy can drain or galvanize a team.”

This week, try to take some time to renew yourself during the day. Maybe you take a short walk or invite one of your team members out for lunch. Perhaps you put the “do not disturb” sign on your cubicle or office and take the time to focus on a high-priority project. How about just letting people know what energy zone you’re in?  My low point of the day is about 3 p.m., so I try not to have meetings from 3 to 4 since I know it’s hard for me to focus during that time. I have a friend who goes out to her car at 3 p.m. every day and takes a five-minute power nap. She always feels refreshed when she returns to her desk.

Life is movement and rest. Your energy is what gets you going and keeps you going, and it’s also what compels you to stop when you need more of it.

Have a good week,


Kathleen Doyle-White
Pathfinders Coaching
(503) 296-9249

© Copyright 2010 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search, Inc., all rights reserved.

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