Life: The best professional advice I ever received came from a Harvard Business Review article

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Do you know a Virgo? Their to-do lists and their Post-It notes adorn their desks, capturing every available moment in time to accomplish as much as possible every single day, all in the hopes of avoiding the inevitable self-loathing that happens should they not reach perfection.

These people — and I am one of them — manage their time. They have to, er, we have to in order to accomplish all that they’d like to get done.

I’m here to tell you that this is 1M percent the wrong approach.

Manage your energy, not your time.

I have a copy of this article from the Harvard Business Review in a book I bought at an airport on a business trip while I was still with Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores. I love reading the HBR books; they give me the sense of reliving my failed MBA days when Quantitative Analytics sunk any chance I had at a graduate degree.

I’m a journalist. We don’t math.

What the article says in general that to be at your best, managing your time isn’t the arbitrage. It’s managing your energy, defined as the “capacity to work” and comprised of the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.

What this means to me is that I make decisions about how much to take on or even how to approach what I have on my plate by how I’m feeling, especially mentally. When something big at work is coming up — big breaking news, a severe weather outbreak, an election night — I’m liable to be way more conservative about what I take on at home (content projects, music, home tasks, etc.)

What I’m realizing, professionally, is that this is the first position I’ve had where I can apply this.

It’s a big, big deal.

I work hard… on purpose.

I relax… with purpose.

I see the clock, and I’m cognizant of time spent. However, mostly, I’m focused on managing my energy. Is this something that resonates with you? If so, tell me in the comments below.

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