Time management is a good way to gain control of your activities. Energy management is even better.
Both types of management attempt to build self-control. Measuring time allows us to measure ourselves, and that’s an essential activity. In the words of Peter Drucker, “What’s measured improves.” But time doesn’t power our activities. Energy does. All the measurement in the world doesn’t matter if the energy we have to improve remains zero.
That goes double for self-control. A fascinating theme of human life is that our capacities–physical, mental, emotional, spiritual–are almost always far greater than we realize. Olympic athletes are an inspiring proof of our physical capacity. Science has surpassed much of science fiction. The emotional power of our poets and heroes dwarfs the emotions we tap into each day. The spiritual serenity and direction of our world religious leaders build faith in a brighter world.
The barrier is self-control.
In business, control of finances is easy; you have us for that. Control of ourselves is harder. Here are 10 easy changes to find more self-control.
University of Bristol researchers found that exercising improves mental-interpersonal capacities, output, time control, energy, calm, concentration, problem solving, and networking. The barrier research participants reported was time, but exercise is an important example of the wisdom of valuing energy management over time management. For more on the benefits of exercise, check out this New York Times’ article on how exercise improves energy, thinking, and memory while also improving anxiety-coping calmness.
Forget time and build energy by exercising. Do it first thing in the morning so it gets done.
Nutrition is what provides athletes with the energy to exercise, and the principle is just as true for business professionals. A multivitamin can help shore up general diet deficiencies, while also providing energy-boosting Vitamin B and Vitamin D. Eating at least one salad or vegetable dish per day provides other nutrients while also keeping the digestive system clean. Philosophies differ on carbohydrates, but all agree that keeping processed fast-foods to a minimum provides the energy of a healthy body.
In the morning, begin each day with breakfast. Any breakfast is good; healthy breakfast is better.
Stage magicians’ wizardry is the magic of attention. A moment’s distraction is all they need to take us by surprise. Given our familiarity with magicians, it’s surprising that so many of us pride ourselves on our multitasking ability and keep our workspace messy. Research supports the arguments that unitasking is superior to multitasking and that a clean workspace improves performance.
For all the advantages of the online world and our electronic screens, they are a dangerous drag on attention and cleanliness. Our first tasks in the morning will go best if we can keep our focus from other things by keeping strict control. That control requires the least energy if we avoid email, social sites, and other pathways to the attention-stealing maze of the internet.
Exercise requires commitment to improve, and so does energy. Here are the five steps of commitment.
- Set Goals – Goals represent formal commitment. Humans respond to formal gestures in romance, religion, politics, and even work. Symbolically deciding to do something by setting a goal has powerful psychic implications. Written goals include recorded commitment.
- Make Plans – Goals are best when they are simple, purposeful statements of intended accomplishment. Plans are the activities that lead to those goals. They should serve as a complete guide map to accomplishing their respective goal.
- Prioritize Your Task List – As long as goals are more specific than “Make Money,” you should have more than one of them, which means more than one set of plans. Prioritizing them lets you make sure you put first things first.
- Calendar – Task Lists can be daunting. Calendaring your tasks requires estimating the time each activity takes, then scheduling that time. Calendars are stronger than task lists, but make sure calendared tasks are sincerely committed. Filling a calendar with uncommitted fluff just makes a mess.
- Do Hard Things First – Avoidance increases stress, decreases self-control, and saps energy. Doing hard things first puts best energy where it’s needed most, and it sets a strong pattern for the rest of the day.
Motivation comes from aligning our work with our values. Making money is an important value for an adult to have. Improving lives, making friends, and growing as individuals are also important goals. Identifying our values well enough to know if we’re building them builds motivation.
Burnout and stress-related illness can compound problems and are best avoided by realistic expectations of ourselves. Taking time for sleep is essential. Relaxation is good, and meditation is even better. Taking care of oneself is essential to taking care of business.
One way to improve the balance between motivated work and relaxing realism is interval training. Interval training is an alternative to continuous-intensity exercise and means trading long, shallow effort for short, intense effort. Working at a frantic pace for a short amount of time then taking a break may be more effective than burning through an entire day at a mediocre pace. Better yet, trade intense mental effort with a few minutes of physical effort like pushups or planking, emotional effort like laughing, and spiritual effort like considering a sacred text.
Self-control is an energy resource that should not be wasted on accounting and financial planning. That’s what you have Preferred CFO to do. Please reach out to us for any questions.