How to use your energy productively

By Francisco Sáez • August 20, 2012

You have managed to set up and assimilate a personal productivity system that works for you. Congratulations, that is not easy. Despite it, you are aware that, in many cases, you are not performing well. You are realizing that, in order to perform certain tasks, you need much more time than you had planned.

You pick your next task and start to carry it out. It is a task that you enjoy doing and that will get you closer to an important goal. But time goes by and you are not advancing, you have trouble concentrating and often get distracted. How is it possible? Well, it just happens that, in general, we do not take into account our available energy level and mood when choosing a task.

Unfortunately, our energy level is not constant throughout the day. It goes up and down at certain times and under certain circumstances, and each person follows a different pattern. If you are someone who have a lot of energy early in the morning and spend that time in tasks that require low energy (such as reading emails, blogs, etc.), you are wasting much of your potential. If you feel usually lazy and drowsy after lunch, and you start to do a task that requires a considerable amount of effort and concentration, it can take three hours instead of one, and you are not being productive.

When your energy level is low, your concentration drops, as it does your ability to make good decisions, your analytical thinking and your creativity. The work becomes harder, longer and the final result is often poorer. So, although it is not always possible, your energy level at any given time should match the energy level required by the action you have decided to undertake. To achieve this you have to know yourself and plan your actions according to your rhythms.

Of course, your health has much to do with maintaining a good level of energy during most of the day. Stay active and include exercise routines in your schedule, several times a week. Try to sleep every night the necessary amount of time to be fresh every morning. Make also small breaks throughout the day to renew your energy. Eat properly (do not forget a good breakfast!) and get used to drink at least 8 glasses of water every day (dehydration also takes its toll).

Finally, and as advised in GTD, choose your next action based on these four criteria.

About the author

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Francisco Sáez (@franciscojsaez) is the founder and CEO of FacileThings. He is also a web developer specializing in Ruby on Rails who is passionate about personal productivity and GTD as a means to a better life.

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