July 1st is this coming Friday. It’s time for a 6-month review.
Here’s what I suggest:
- Make space for better in the 6 months of 2016 to come, and
- Give yourself an energy audit.
Over the weekend I checked in with photographer and creative Chase Jarvis, and he got me thinking about energy. Ours. Human-powered energy for getting stuff accomplished.
In a nutshell,
The amount of human energy found within a workplace
is, without question, the manager’s most valuable resource.
We’ve mostly talked about energy as pertains to the workplace in general, and in regard to how managers affect energy levels within the workplace. Chase Jarvis was focused on personal productivity instead — how do you manage your own energy? — and he had a valid rant: “Busy isn’t success, it’s a lack of priority.”
Are you busy, or are you productive? Do you feel accomplished?
Make Space for Better
As reference, remember these? Better Managers are Better People followed up by Better Person, Better Manager, Better Leader. Alaka‘i Batch 24.
When we, at Say Leadership Coaching, work with managers directly, we don’t zoom directly into Key 4, The Role of the Manager Reconstructed, until we do some groundwork first. We don’t start with the MWA Jumpstart program either (though we do as soon as possible). We get to know the manager, and his or hers working habits first, as a means of doing an energy audit.
We know we will be adding new learning and new practices to whatever that manager is already doing, and we cannot do so successfully unless they have space and energy;
a) the space to fit in what we’ll be offering them — space for ‘Better’
b) the energy to make immediate, practical use of those offerings.
When you think about it, this common sense approach applies to everyone you might manage, teach, or coach as well, doesn’t it. They may truly love what you offer, yet not have the energy to deal with it. To assume they are lazy or unmotivated for not immediately getting on board with you, is usually a big mistake and it’s best to dig deeper. They need energy to draw from, especially when they’ll need to work on adding what you offer them, by using it to replace something else already in play.
Energy, not time. Time IS always available: It’s a matter of what we choose to do with our time, or how we squander it away or procrastinate.
Going back to Chase Jarvis, he put together a terrific post + video I want to share with you, one that can get you thinking about this too. It gives you a good basis for making space no matter how busy you feel, while framing your own energy audit.
Introducing Strategic Renewal
Here is a pointer to Chase Jarvis explaining his approach to getting things done while cultivating healthy energy deposits at the same time, and on a daily basis.
The way Chase works, is adapted from a concept Tony Schwarz made popular, called strategic renewal. To pull from the sentence above, Chase “gets things done” by batching in context, and prioritizing his To-do lists in 90-minute chunks, while “cultivating healthy energy deposits” in 30-minute breathers in between those 90-minute chunks.
It looks something like this:
Morning routine (similar to what we covered here)
90-minute work block 1
30-minute breather for renewal
90-minute work block 2
30-minute breather for renewal
90-minute work block 3
… and so on until you call it a day and head home.
You start with your most important work each day to get it done, and not succumb to distraction or procrastination. A quick lunch could fit in a 30-minute breather, while a luncheon meeting with others could fill in a 90-minute block around noontime.
Chase offers a link to a 2013 article Schwarz wrote about it for the New York Times, however it’s a longer read about the intellectual science behind strategic renewal; save it for later if you’re interested — Chase cuts to the chase (smile): read his post first, then speed up the video clip to the 2:44 mark.
Strategic Renewal is adaptable, whether you’re a creative (like Chase), self-employed (like me), or employed to work for hire.
I work in a similar way, and I teach strategic renewal to the managers I coach as well.
The 90-minute chunking may work out differently for you. There is good brain science behind that 90-minute suggestion, yet you may not find it practical in the working environment you happen to be in. In the corporate world for instance, it’s often a matter of scheduling “my real work time” in between meetings, appointments and other events you have no scheduling control over.
The key to strategic renewal is that 30-minute renewal time. When I was in the corporate world, I used to call it ‘bookending appointments.’ I made sure I did not schedule back-to-back commitments of anything, having 30 minutes in between the commitments I did have, for debriefing what just happened, catching my breath, fortifying my energy with a healthy snack, then preparing for myself for the commitment I’d scheduled next. My bookends were sacred; I did not allow my commitments to go overtime into them.
Value align Strategic Renewal with Nānā i ke kumu
Those 30-minute breathers are also connected to what we know as Nānā i ke kumu, and looking to our source to boost our spirit. The 30-minute is indeed breather, and not just a buffer, creating the energy deposits you can then use in your 90-minute batching of work.
As a cool fringe benefit, I find they help to curb distractions very effectively: You can defer a lot of distraction and attention-scattering to those 30-minutes book-ending each session of focused work.
The Energy Audit
30-minute breathers are energy boosters.
When you immediately roll into your next scheduling commitment without debriefing from the previous one, and taking the time to recharge yourself, it’s an energy drainer —especially if you’ll be deferring to someone else’s agenda in that commitment.
In your Energy Audit you take notice of what you do, and characterize: Does this boost my energy, or drain it? Then, work to curtail those drainers, revising your m.o. to steadily improve your productivity — and boost your joy in what you do.
Also relevant: The difference between Should and Should-ing.
Another tip: Keep social media out of those 30-minute breathers. Consider the approach Austin Kleon takes with his Daily Dispatch.
To be practical about work, is to be reasonable about your own expectations.
As I’ve said before, I consistently find managers and leaders are trying to do too much, and need less to be more for them. More is about cultivating and respecting your own energies, before you can possibly expect to manage and Mālama others: To Manage with Aloha is to Hack Behavior.
Start the second half of your year in a newly freshened way. Whatever your project targets, make space for better, and invest smartly in your energy — they will serve you as reserves, and as enthusiasm.
Here’s a handy index to our talk stories About Energy as found in the Archives:
Have you signed up for the newsletter yet? Join us!
The newsletter is where I will point you to more resources like Chase Jarvis, when not specifically devoted to a MWA blog post like this one.