Why I Focus on Energy Instead of Time

Improving my ability to learn, build better habits, and live a fulfilling life

Jeffrey Czum

“We all have ability. The difference is how we use it.”

— Stevie Wonder

So what’s the point of sharing this with you? Well, I’ve come to believe that measuring my energy will naturally extend to maximizing my time. The other does not work. Let me explain.

Both time and energy are depleting resources. Yet the latter has two distinct benefits over the former:

  1. Energy transfers, and can regenerate.
  2. I can directly control my energy.

We can’t control our clock. Time passes, and then it’s gone.

Felicia C. Sullivan spoke about our work more society in her great piece, How Many Hours a Week Should You Work?

“We suffer from decision paralysis: When you work more, you work in circles, procrastinate, and nothing really gets done. You’re too tired to make material decisions so you end up putting them off, which only hurts your business.”

For me, this all really comes down to one word: intent.

Intent is all about the desired outcome that results from a carrying out a specific behaviour. By placing my focus on energy, my daily tasks became much more focused. This is because the intent was instantly controllable.

When I was able to measure my direct behaviour, and how it impacted my intended outcome, my productivity skyrocketed. This is all about measuring what is intrinsic. Time is an extrinsic measurement tool, and shifts the focus away from the intent itself.

Examples:

  • Working out for an hour became finish the training session’s specified tasks.
  • Meditate for 30 minutes became meditate until the intent has resonated.
  • Study French for five minutes became practice one French lesson.
  • Write for 20 minutes became write 500 words.

By putting the constraint of time onto these tasks, my anxiety rose around what was or wasn’t being accomplished.

  • If I worked out for an hour, I risked spending too much time doing the things that didn’t add the most value.
  • If I meditated for 30 minutes, I risked stopping when I felt like I was finally getting deeper and more present with a feeling.
  • If I studied French for five minutes, I risked rushing through a lesson.
  • If I were to just write for 20 minutes, I risked stopping short of my production.

We can’t say practicing guitar for 30 minutes was a success, unless that 30 minutes included specific tasks which were practiced and the intent was honoured. This is what deliberate practice is. We aren’t working against the clock for time’s sake. We are working for the sake of improving, optimizing, and building our skills.

A question that invariably comes up is how can you sustain an optimal level of energy throughout the day?

How I build my energy reserves

These daily habits are all in of themselves, energy regenerators. By putting more focus on one area, the bucket fills into other areas.

Sleep

The foundation of health, performance, and vitality. If you think you can push it off, and repeat the silly mantra “sleep when you’re dead,” you will ironically get there much faster. I aim for at least 7 hours every night, and be sure get to bed one to two hours before midnight. Read Matthew Walker’s, Why We Sleep.

Meditation

Taking care of my mental health is crucial for keeping my creative, and innovative energy high. I recently got my friend who is a meditation teacher to make me customized guided meditations, specific to me daily stressors and anxieties.

Exercise

Movement gives our bodies a reason to continue on. We are meant to move in many different ways, in a variety of environments, under lots of changing loads, with mixed intensities and durations. Sitting in the car, sitting on the couch, and sitting behind a desk for most of the day does not allow my body to express itself fully.

The first rule of exercise that I follow: do something I love consistently. Consistency will beat intensity all day. It’s about showing up and doing something everyday — not crushing ourselves with intense workouts, risking injury, and greater fatigue.

Nutrition

My diet revolves around a few basic principles. Eat a variety of whole foods. Eat a lot of plants. Eat enough protein. Eat when I am hungry. Eat slowly. Stop eating when I am satisfied. Eat more carbohydrates on training days. Nothing sexy here — just the basics done insanely well, and done often.

I am constantly in the pursuit of removing any sort of perceived negative verbiage from my life. Anytime that I feel a word brings some sort of resistance, I notice it and see if I can substitute the word with something more up lifting.

“At the core of every true talent there is an awareness of the difficulties inherent in any achievement, and the confidence that by persistence and patience, something worthwhile will be realized.” — Eric Hoffer

It’s about putting forward my best self. It’s about expressing who I am in multiple areas that I enjoy.

Time just dissolves into this weird illusion of sorts. This doesn’t mean that I stop scheduling things in my calendar and show up late for meetings. No, that’s ridiculous.

I simply aim to place my awareness on where I expend my energy. Doing so, I know that I am living my most present, and fulfilling life. Time will pass, but I know I will have made the most of it.

Thank you for reading my article. I hope you found it helpful or at least thought-provoking. If this post did help you, consider sharing it with someone you think it would help too.

A Canadian wellness coach starting deeper conversations around mindset and well-being / venovawellness.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store