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Julie A. Fleming: “Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time.”

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | May 28, 2012

No. 839

“The reason is simple,” she says. “No matter how much time you have, without sufficient energy to perform at a high level during that time, you will not be able to accomplish much.”

Anyone who must spend long hours at a computer keyboard will attest to that truth. You cannot read effectively, let alone write, while fatigued or when you are falling asleep.  It is better to get some rest and start again refreshed.

“Energy management is the foundational currency of work.  Without energy, time is almost meaningless”  writes Attorney and Consultant Julie A. Fleming in the second edition of her book, “Seven Foundations of Time Mastery for Attorneys.”  Although addressing the specific needs of lawyers, the book could profitably be read by anyone who must work creatively and productively.  During the coming week, I will review each of the Seven Foundations.  Managing Energy is the first.

An attorney, says Julie, must emulate an athlete.  Athletes must establish a training season, a game season and an off season.  They hope to hit peak performance during the game  — the time when performance counts most.  Training builds up to that peak.  And during the off-season, the athlete decompresses while getting ready to commence the cycle again.

“Like athletes, lawyers must learn how to sustain and effectively use energy during work, and how to rest, refresh , and re-energize during specifically planned non-working times.

The lawyer-athlete must create and then nurture four sources of energy: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual or purposeful. Sleep, diet, relaxation, exercise are among the sources of physical energy.  Emotional capacity is more subtle. Stress that interferes with work must be controlled.  Negative emotions, especially ones that limit performance must be expelled.  This can be, in times of trouble, a daunting task.

Mental capacity means the ability to concentrate upon your work.  “It means being fully present with your work . . . and maintaining sustained high levels of concentration, as well as holding a realistically optimistic outlook about the outcome of your work.  In addition, mental capacity generates the flexibility required to identify and examine a variety of points of view, and it permits you to switch between analytical and creative approaches to a challenge.”

Purposeful capacity “refers to the ability to bring your deepest values into your day-to-day life and to connect with the purpose of your work.”  Working with a goal in mind drives and energizes your work.  If you are assigned to perform tasks that seem routine or even trivial, finding a purpose can be difficult.  In such times, it is often necessary to remind yourself that your client is depending upon you to attain important goals or avoid harm. If nothing else, completion of the task at hand is a goal that will enable you to move on.

Put these four factors together, Julie says, and you can create the energy necessary to fuel your peak performance.

TOMORROW:  Setting Priorities and Acting Accordingly.



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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