When people talk about “working smarter, not harder,” the conversation usually turns to time management. They may say you need to learn how to get more done in a shorter period of time or find ways to maximize your time in between meetings. However, to work smarter, it’s not about watching the clock, but minding your energy.

This is because everyone has a unique energy rhythm. Some people are more productive and energized in the morning. Others do their best work in the afternoon or evening. Sam Milbrath, a contributing writer for the Trello blog, suggests thinking of your energy levels like batteries. They only last for so long before they need to rest, recover and recharge to get back to their full potential.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share Milbrath’s three strategies to manage your energy more effectively throughout your workday.

1. Study your working style. Maybe you work at things at a slow and steady pace. Or maybe you get your best work done under a tight deadline. Milbrath encourages professionals to think about it and get to know how they work. If you classify yourself as a lower-energy expender, try setting minimum expectations each day and make sure you don’t fall below them. And if you’re a higher-energy person, give yourself breaks to avoid burnout, she suggests. If you alternate between the two, watch out for both the bottom and the top of your energy limits as they come and go.

2. Establish daily limits. One way you can better manage your energy is to set daily minimums and maximums. This could mean giving yourself one meeting-free day each week or only accepting a certain number of meetings each day. Once you set your limit, stick to it. This will help others understand your boundaries.

3. Take breaks at the right time. Ever heard the phrase, “power hour?” Milbrath says this refers to ultradian rhythms—the natural cycles that our bodies move from high to low energy states. These cycles vary from person to person, but usually range from 90 to 120 minutes. During a time of high energy, Milbrath suggests focusing diligently on the project in front of you. Don’t check emails or texts as this can deplete your energy. At the end of a high-energy period, your body will alert you in several different ways. For example, you may begin to feel restless or get hungry or thirsty. Instead of powering through, take a break. In just a few minutes, you can disengage, recharge and come back with better results, says Milbrath.

Even if you manage your time well, you may feel like your day slips away and you have nothing to show for it. Try incorporating some of the activities above into your workday. Whether you set a limit on how many meetings you attend or you take a brief break when you feel your energy lagging, you can begin to make a difference in how you feel and how you show up for your clients, colleagues and loved ones.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Sam Milbrath is a contributing writer for the Trello blog.