Have you ever had a day or week where you felt exhausted, stressed, and like you hardly accomplished anything? What if I told you that a simple perspective on managing your personal energy could increase your effectiveness for the same or less energy input?
This game-changing idea came to me from Carey Nieuwhof via his book, At Your Best. It starts with understanding that you probably have between three and five hours each day of time where you experience strong focus, capacity for creatively solving problems, making important decisions, and doing deep thinking. At other times, you are still highly functional but less optimal, and still other times you struggle to focus. Nieuwhof uses the colors green, yellow, and red to describe these “energy zones” during your day. The green zone is your best energy time. Yellow is your moderate energy time, and red is your weakest energy time.
To optimize your impact, Nieuwhof recommends that you put the activities that deserve or require your creativity and concentration in your green zone. This includes activities where you have a strong gift or talent, because when you put your best energy toward what you can do best, there’s a multiplying effect that produces tremendous value. It might be tempting to put that thing you’re really good at in another energy zone because you can still do it pretty well even at low energy, but it won’t be the epic level of amazing that you’re really capable of producing.
The yellow zone is for activities that you can still do well at a lower level of energy. This can include many kinds of meetings. Also, planning for and gathering resources needed to optimize your green zone can also work well in the yellow zone.
The red zone is best used for things that do help you but don’t depend on strong concentration and have low consequences if you don’t do them perfectly. Things like taking out the trash, grocery shopping, yard work, and even exercise can work well in this zone.
What are you currently doing during your best hours of the day that you really could accomplish at other times?
For a deeper understanding of this idea and many practical tips for using it, check out the book At Your Best. You won’t regret it!