Manage Your Energy — Not Just Your Time

The most successful athletes manage their energy; the business world seems obsessed with managing time, according to former sports agent Molly Fletcher.

Author: Barbara Palmer       

work performance

The most successful athletes manage their energy over time so it isn’t lagging when they most need it, author and and former sports agent Molly Fletcher said.

Molly Fletcher is a former sports agent who, after two decades of working with top athletes, coaches, and sports broadcasters, made the switch to the corporate world. One of the most striking differences she noticed, said Fletcher, who gave a keynote Monday for the Corporate Event Marketing Association’s online CEMA Summit 2020, was that while the most successful athletes managed their energy, the business world seemed obsessed with managing time.

work performance

Molly Fletcher

At the elite level in sports, everyone has a lot of talent, said Fletcher, the CEO of the Molly Fletcher Company who CNN once described as a “female Jerry McGuire.” But the most successful athletes and coaches, “know that energy is the key to performance,” Fletcher said. They manage their energy over time so that it is at its peak when it is most needed, she said. In contrast, in the business world, there is a “max productivity mindset” concerned with “shoving more into every minute of every day, reacting and surviving — and then getting up to do it all over again the next day.”

‘Time is Not Renewable — But Energy Is.’

Time management, alone, doesn’t work anymore, Fletcher said. “It doesn’t matter that we just show up on time, it matters that we show up with the right kind of energy and make time for the things that really matter most.” That’s always been true, she added, but the demands of the pandemic and the blurring of the lines between home and work has made it more important. “Time is not renewable — but energy is.”

At CEMA Summit 2020, Fletcher, author of The Energy Clock, outlined a strategy for switching the focus from time to energy. The first step is to conduct an energy audit to become aware of where you are spending your energy, she said. “Too many people fail to realize and what they give their energy to and why — they end up exhausted and burned out with no energy for what matters most.”

Fletcher recommends identifying the things that affect your energy in three categories: those that energize you; those that rob you of energy; and things that have a neutral effect. “Ask yourself: What and who gives you energy? And what and who drains your energy?” she said. “Energy equals the capacity to do work. Time is not renewable, but energy is.” Fletcher assigns colors to each category — green for energizing activities, like golf, or spending time with family or hobbies; orange is neutral things; and red is for those people and tasks that de-energize you.

Once you have some clarity around how you spend your energy, mark them on your calendar, Fletcher said. Making sure you have energy-producing green zones each day will build not just your energy, but your resilience, she said. Deal with the neutral orange zones as efficiently as possible, by automating or delegating tasks if possible, she added. Then make a plan for navigating energy-zapping activities or people in the red zone, she advised. See if you can take them off your calendar altogether, and, if that’s not possible, add energizers around them, she said.

The goal, Fletcher said, “is to have your time, energy and priorities all aligned — and to have the tools to strengthen your resilience in the face of life’s demands.”

Barbara Palmer is deputy editor of Convene.

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