Time Management vs Energy Management: What’s the difference?

April 28, 2023

Welcome to Practical Magic! A productivity and intentional living newsletter for women in business with quick, actionable tips to work less and build success on your terms.

Read time: 3 minutes

(Note: I’m testing out a new email provider. So this may look different than other issues.)

The other week I had a ton of work on my plate. When I planned out my to-do list, it seemed perfectly do-able. The hours I had available matched up for the work that needed to be done.

I ended that week feeling overcommitted. But when I looked back on my time tracking report, I had only spent 10 hours on client work. What!? It felt like at least 2x that.

What I didn’t take into account was:

  • Feeling super drained from traveling across the country
  • The complexity of some tasks
  • The increase in Zoom meetings that week

Time management is a critical skill to learn. It’s taken me years of practice, but it’s something I’m pretty good at. In fact, that’s often why my clients hire me – they are overloaded and need better systems. They want to manage their time as efficiently as possible.

Many people exclaim, “If only I had more time!”

However, I’m going to throw out a curveball. Have you ever stopped to consider that the reason time might feel scarce is due to when you do tasks?

The time is there. Our energy is not.

Energy is a critical component of our ability to manage our time effectively. When we have high levels of energy, we can zoom through complex problems. We can make speedy decisions.

On the other hand, when our energy levels are low, we find ourselves feeling sluggish, distracted, and unmotivated. This makes our work take hours instead of minutes. We spin on things that should feel like easy decisions.

TLDR; we are taking way too long because we’re managing our energy ineffectively, not our time.

So, how can you take your energy into account when managing your time? I have two approaches for you.

But first, spend a day or two noticing your energy levels throughout the day. By tracking my energy, I realized I’m most productive in the mornings, then I feel amazing with a mid-day refresh (12pm yoga anyone?), and lastly I get a jolt of energy in the late afternoon.

Don’t make assumptions! (I thought I was gassed by the late afternoon.)

Do you know your energy times? Great! Now we can make a plan.

Approach #1: Time-blocking by Energy Level

One approach is to schedule your most important tasks during times when you have the most energy. Label your high, mid, and low energy times.

When you’re feeling energized and ready to conquer the world, seize the moment! This is the ideal opportunity to concentrate on tasks that demand your utmost attention and creativity. Utilize this time to work on projects that require your full concentration or to brainstorm innovative concepts.

When your energy levels are low, take a break and recharge. Take a nap, go for a walk, or simply stare out the window like a puppy dog (…not speaking from personal experience). This is your time!

Don’t try to force yourself to be productive or creative when you’re feeling drained – it could drain your energy for the whole day!

Approach #2: Schedule Frequent Energy Boosts

Another strategy is to take short, frequent breaks throughout the day to recharge your energy levels.

I find this to be a great approach for people who:

  1. Don’t notice large spikes or dips in energy, or
  2. Don’t enjoy getting lost in work for hours at a time.

Again, make sure to do something revitalizing. Not creative or overly productive. Take that “hot girl walk” outside (I heard that’s what the kids call them), do stretches, or simply take a few deep breaths.

By giving yourself time to recharge, you’ll be better equipped to tackle your tasks with renewed focus and motivation. This is a great tip to pair with the Pomodoro technique (20 minutes work, 5 min break).

Practical Action Steps

  • Track your energy levels for 2 days in a journal (or phone note).
  • Practice scheduling your tasks using one of the approaches above.
  • Reflect on what you noticed. I’m going to quote my man Socrates here: “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.”

Always in your corner,


If you implement any of these tips or learn something interesting, I’d love to hear from you! Just reply to this email or connect with me on social:

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