It seemed simpler in the past. You had tasks to do, you then had more tasks to do, and you had to learn how to manage your time to get your tasks done.
I’m old enough that when I started my career, I had a desk, a “secretary” (yes, that’s what we called them back then), and – and this is important – no computer. So, no e-mail interruptions.
The Time and Energy Management Era
But, then, it kept getting more complex. And, with so many demands on our time, and with the mountain of tasks that come from the adoption of computers and devices and e-mail and text messages and… well, you began to be exhausted. Really exhausted. Even physically. So, we expanded to time and energy management.
And now, it’s almost impossible! Have you heard of the simple two-minute rule? If you can handle something within two minutes, deal with it immediately goes the rule. Except, the number of two-minute requests we all get in a day are increasing almost exponentially, and we can end up doing nothing but one two-minute task after another. (I forget which book I read this in, but a little girl was asked what her dad did for a living, and she said “he answers e-mail for a living”).
So, here’s our challenge. We have to get good at managing our time, and our energy, and our mind/focus. And the challenge to do all three gets even greater as the complexity grows.
Here’s a reading list for thinking about and dealing with/surviving all three eras. All three of these books are practical, helpful, even now, because we have not left the first two – we are in all three eras.
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity by David Allen
The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz.
The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload by Daniel J. Levitin
Note: I have presented synopses of each of these three books at our monthly Dallas event, the First Friday Book Synopsis. My synopses are available at our companion site 15minutebusinessbooks.com. Each synopsis comes with my comprehensive handout and the audio recording of my presentation.