To perform best at work, look at Time & Energy account balance

by SerenaTan192 min read25th Mar 2019No comments



Several weeks ago, I got a chance to join a talk hosting one of the very few female regional head at Google.

Despite not having any business background, she climbed the rank from entry level employee to become a regional head, surpassing everyone else from prestigious business degrees and rich experiences.

One success driver she mentioned got my attention. Despite lagging very much behind at the beginning, the core to her success is that she always aims for 120% result of any task in front of her.

The reason why this interests me is not because of my fresh ears.

In fact, this is not the first time I heard of this concept. Not the first time I get inspired of giving it all to whatever is in front. Not the first time I try…and not the first time I fail.

Did I not put in enough effort?

No…in fact, I put in so much effort to make this concept come to live, not realising that while effort is highly important, it’s critically inadequate.

As I listened to this amazing regional head talking about different aspects of her life, I came to realisation on what I have always been missing so far.

To make each task yield 120%, apart from effort, we should also look at our time and energy balance.

Contributing the best on a task means to give the amount of time and energy in the level required to make the result best.

We cannot contribute what we don’t have.

No matter how much effort we try to give adequate time required for the best, we only have 24 hours a day.

No matter how much energy we try to put into each task, we only have a limited stream in each day.

Therefore, giving our best does not start from the moment we begin working…but from the moment we plan our schedule and project pipelines.

When having "Enough Time" is Not Enough When my boss asked if I have enough time to take on one additional project, I would look at how much time is required to finish all the tasks on my desk and then, most of the time, said "Yes" thinking I have enough time to finish it all.

However, there is a difference between having enough time to finish it all and having time to make it best.

Coming back to evaluate all the projects in my pipeline, I realize that the time I have is only enough to finish all up, but not to go above and beyond.

I have two choices:

  • Finishing a lot of tasks with average results OR

  • Complete major task with the best impact that goes beyond expectations

There is no right answer here, but for my situation, the second works better.

Even having Time is Sometimes Not Enough Having time is good. But having time without full energy...hmm...unlikely to be productive.

Another good lesson I learned from this talk is that ample time to do it best should always come with ample energy.

It's just normal to plan business projects with the right balance between high-low energy requirement. However...our energy pool is not limited only in working hours, but also in personal life.

One thing I learned is that when looking at high-low energy requirement in my activities list, I should include all activities both in office and at home.

Despite saying "I only have one major project going on during working hours", if this lady has to practice running a marathon at night with high intensity, how would she have enough energy to do both best, despite marathon not being related to works.

To summarize, with one key success driver in career being to do our best in the tasks at hand (eg. the concept to deliver 120%), many ambitious people try to put in so much effort to ensure the best results. However, the best results actually begin even before we start doing each task...but begins during project planning, in which time and energy balance would determine how our project results would turn out to be.


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