Published here September 2020


Musings Index

Why Energy Is the Key to Personal Time Management

As my record shows,[1] I am a member of several professional organizations, foremost amongst which is the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers (CSCE) here in Canada.[2] Recently, our then president circulated the following letter providing advice on how to manage personal time. This is a topic that he finds so important that he decided to circulate it to all members.[3]

In turn, I think it is also well worth sharing with all of our readers. Here is the president's letter.

"Dear Colleagues, Members and Partners,

One of the many benefits that CSCE provides its members is tips to make the day-to-day work easier, so we can focus on the bigger picture. Below is a perfect example of this, in fact this topic is so important; we're sharing it with everyone.

The saying goes that if you want something done — give it to a busy person. But why is that? Why does it appear that some people have such a better handle on their time?

The irony about finding a better way to manage time is that while most people waste hours of time looking for solutions, the few who conquer it, are looking in a completely different direction.

What we know about time is that we are all given the same amount of it each day. So why is it that some people get so much more done than others? Or maybe the real question here is — why is it that some people get the same or more done in the same amount of time and still feel energized — not defeated, exhausted, stressed or burnt. At the end of day, this is really what people want to know.

So what is the secret to doing it all AND feeling great? It's simpler than you might think; it's energy.

Below are a few tips on how you can change your routine and start to feel like you have all the time in the world, simply because the way you spend your time will shift from quantity to quality — and this will impact your energy.

1 — Evaluate your current situation. Look at your work conditions and hours, your daily life routine, family circumstances, your diet and exercise, your financial situation, how well you sleep at night, etc. Make a list of all potential strains on your energy. While you can't solve everything in a day, when you identify what's draining you, you can start to make a plan to slowly lessen and eventually omit some of these stresses all together. By eliminating some of your day-to-day stresses, you'll start to wake up feeling lighter, more energized, more confident, and more ready to focus on the tasks at hand — which will enable you to finish them more efficiently - and in less time.

2 — Make a list of things that give you energy. This list is important — perhaps even more than the first one. This list should consist of all of the things that make you happy, that you look forward to and that make your feel alive. You should enjoy making this list — if not; perhaps you're not putting the right things on it. The trick to this list is that it doesn't have to be all big things like vacations and a new car. Think of the little everyday moments, like being home to have dinner with your family, being able to attend your daughter's dance recital or maybe just being home to lounge on a deck chair and kick back with a great book. Think of hobbies that you never get time to do, or maybe you've been saying for years that you want to run a marathon. Whatever floats your boat, as they say.

Once you have your list, then look at your routine and decide where you want, yes want, not can, to slot in one or two things from this list that you would like to do every week. Initially, this may seem impossible if you already have an overwhelming schedule, but you will see that when you do this, your energy will change. You will want to do these new and fun things that you have scheduled in. You will look forward to them.

And best of all, just like alleviating the stress factors above, you will wake up feeling energized and eager to get through the day so that you can get to do whatever it is you have scheduled in! You will work more efficiently because you are not collapsing under the stress of the work — or anxious to come back again the next day — now you have something energizing rather than energy-zapping to push you. And just like that, you're getting things done in less time, doing even more than before and most importantly, feeling happier.

3 — Less is more. There's an old adage that less is more. While this is not always the case, in this situation it most certainly is. When it comes to workload, we have to remember to treat it like a marathon. We need to stop or slow down from time to time and refuel. While most people think that stopping will mean they get less done, just like a runner, when you take the time to re-energize, you come back stronger — and work more effectively, so you end up getting more done in less time - instead of burning out before you hit the finish line.

When you feel like you have no time, it means it's time to schedule in more energy-boosting activities into your schedule. The amount of time we have in a day will never change, but the level of satisfaction you get in a day — certainly can.

Best regards,

Michel Khouday, P.Eng., M.Eng., PMP, C.Adm., M.B.A., Ph.D.
President, CSCE 2019-2020"

Thank you Mr. President, for that sound advice.

1. See
3. May 2020
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