energy management strategy

Time Management Is Dead: Long Live Energy Management

Time management is dead! There is a new sheriff in town and he is called “Energy Management”.

If you want to be truly productive, you need to manage your energy properly. No lifehack, productivity app, or time management technique can help you, if you are wiped out on a Tuesday afternoon and don’t even have the energy to get up from your desk.

Here’s how to keep your focus and energy high using a simple, but highly effective, energy management strategy:


We live in a culture that seems to be obsessed with productivity and time management.

While increasing how much you get done on a daily basis and being deliberate about how you spend your time is important (heck, I’ve dedicated this entire website to this), there is something even more important that rarely gets talked about: energy management.

Everything that has to do with productivity is hooked up to your energy levels. As your energy rises, so does your focus, imagination, creativity and motivation. As your energy takes a dip, following your ultradian rhythm, it drags everything down with it.

Without proper energy management, you are always going to unconsciously (or, even on purpose, sometimes) hold yourself back and pace yourself. You start with your energy at its peak in the morning and you know it has to last you the entire day, so you try to distribute it evenly.

But…

There is a big problem with that. “Pacing” your energy allows you to dedicate only a small portion to each task, thus you never reach your true productive potential.

“Not being able to push yourself to 90% output without worry is the biggest impediment holding you back from being truly productive”
~ Greg Ciotti

What if I could show you a way of work that would allow you to give up to 90% of your energy and focus to EVERY task? Would that change how much you get done?

Let’s talk energy management mastery.

Enter the “50-10-50-30 Strategy”.

energy management mastery

The 50-10-50-30 Energy Management Strategy

This is a deceivingly simple strategy that allows for maximum focus by proper restoration and rejuvenation.

It has only 4 steps to it and you can apply it pretty much immediately.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: 50 Minutes Of Focus Time

Block off 50 minutes of your time, clear all distractions, and choose a single (preferably important) task.

Give it all your got. All your attention, focus, creativity, motivation and anything else the task requires.

Don’t worry about pacing yourself. Imagine that this is the only task you have to do today. This would allow you to let go of any inhibitions or fear that you are going to exhaust yourself and not have anything left for the tasks to come.

50 minutes, no distractions, single task, pedal to the metal.

Step 2: 10 Minutes Of Recharge Time

When your 50 minutes are up, and not a minute later, take a 10 minute break.

There are two parts to taking a proper break:

  • Physical – change your physical state. If you were siting while working, get up and walk around. If you were standing, sit down, etc.
  • Mental – break away your focus from the task and allow it to restore itself

Ideally, you are going to move around for those 10 minutes. Light stretching can also do wonders, especially if you work on a desk. Stretch your neck, hands and shoulders or even go for some “deskexercises”. Get the blood and oxygen flowing. This will help restore your energy.

Drink a glass of water. Proper hydration is vital to energy management, so 6 – 8 oz. (175 – 222 ml) of water is a must.

Allow your focus and attention to take a break too. Don’t think about your work, the task that you did, or anything else that you need to do. Checking your email, voicemail, organizing your agenda, or anything even remotely related to work is a no-no. Relax!

Your sole goal for these 10 minutes is to take a break and allow for your attention and energy to get restored.

Step 3: 50 Minutes Of Focus Time

You’ve done this before so you know what to do.

One task, 50 minutes, no distractions, give it all you got.

Step 4: 30 Minutes Of Recharge Time

Phew, you are done with the work (for now). Let’s take a good, long, half-hour break.

Like before, change your physical state, move around, stretch and drink lots of water. Disconnect your attention as well.

In addition to everything, have a meal. You’ve been hard at work for close to 2 hours at this point so you need to refuel properly with a healthy, balanced meal. I am not going to get into the nutrition part, as that varies tremendously from person to person, but as a rule of thumb, keep it nutritious and don’t stuff yourself.

Rinse and Repeat

As every shampoo bottle says, “rinse and repeat”. Once you are done with the 30 minute break, do the whole cycle again. 50 minutes of work, 10 minute break, 50 minutes of work, 30 minute break.

Here’s why this strategy works so well:

  • It allows you to restore your energy and focus at every break so you can reach your maximum potential when you work
  • It follows the biologically-built into you ultradian cycle, instead of trying to work against it (nearly impossible)

This is a simple energy management that simply works, just give it a shot.

Important Points

A couple of things to keep in mind when applying this strategy:

  • Use a timer – this would allow you to concentrate on your work, instead of checking the time to see how much you have left.
  • Breaks are crucial – take them! Even if you feel like you “don’t need” them at the time
  • Checking email is not a break – same goes for voicemails, meeting notes and anything else work-related. When you take a break, take a real one
  • Don’t skip the water – for some, drinking plain water does not come naturally. Try it. Don’t go for coffee, juices, energy drinks and the like.
  • Clear away all distractions – a simple interruption can cost you up to 21 – 25 minutes (the time need to restore your focus to where it was before you got distracted).
  • “It is too simple / complicated to work for me” – give it a shot, do it for one day, see how it works out for you, I challenge you. After that, you won’t need any convincing.

The bottom line is this: your productivity is completely reliant on your energy levels. You can either hope that every day you are going to be energetic and motivated, or you can use proper energy management and take control of it.

Your Turn Now

The 50-10-50-30 energy management strategy will unlock your productivity potential by allowing you to continuously restore your energy and focus. That in turn allows for work periods of “hold nothing back”. If you make this part of your routine, you will not only get a tremendous amount of work done every day, but feel good about it and have energy left over to enjoy it. If you work hard the entire day, but are completely wiped at the end, what’s the point?

Use proper energy management, get the job done and enjoy the fruits of your hard work… that is true productivity.

Question: what other energy management techniques to you use to keep your energy and motivation high? Share in the comment section below: