Good time management comes down to good energy management. Time is of little use if you don’t have the energy to do something with it – a fact you already understand from the ordinary experience of the common cold.

You can have a beautifully organized to-do list and a wall calendar covered in sticky notes, but that doesn’t mean you have a finished plan. Knowing your what and when is obviously essential, but that still leaves out two-thirds of what you need to know to successfully complete a project, let alone get through an ordinary day.

To be skilled in time management, you need to address all six elements of the conditions in which you carry out your work: what, when, where, who, why and how: specifically how you manage your physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and financial energy.

If you aren’t following through on what needs doing, one of these elements has been left out or is off in some way. And the most likely missing element: energy.

Of all six elements, energy is the most important part of a solid Foundation. Knowing how to manage and care for your energy – on multiple levels – is essential and fundamental.

  • When you don’t care for your physical energy: you lack enough get-up-and-go and clear-headedness to handle just your everyday responsibilities, never mind your creative work…
  • When you don’t care for your mental energy: you rapidly deplete your ability to process information, make decisions, solve problems, and engage in self-control – all essential to completing a satisfying day…
  • When you don’t care for your emotional energy: worry and frustration infuse everything, clouding your judgment and leaving you vulnerable to distraction and procrastination…
  • When you don’t care for your spiritual energy: you lose your sense of purpose and connectedness to something larger than yourself – and thus your calm and focus…
  • When you don’t care for your financial energy: you cannot reliably fund your needs, which throws a big monkey-wrench into caring for the other four energies, and the other elements…

Again, you can have an immaculate plan, but without having at least some idea of how you are going to carry it out – that is, how you are going to manage your physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and financial energy throughout your day or week or project – you’re probably not going to make it.

At least not in a sustainable way that allows you to get up the next day and do it again.

If you aren’t getting from here to done in ways you feel good about – if you’re a limp dishrag by the end of the day or the week, your everyday responsibilities are piling up, or your projects just aren’t moving forward – instead of trying to get more “organized,” consider how you might better fuel the work at hand. Look first to your energy and start searching for ways to balance your exhales with more inhales.

Next: Time:Change:Energy