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9.12.08 Issue #340 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Dr. Nancy Haller
Dentist Coach
McKenzie Management
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Manage Your Energy

The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. —Lily Tomlin

Research from technology sociologist Gloria Mark states that the average worker is interrupted every 11 minutes on the job. Furthermore, it takes those same workers about 25 minutes on average to return to the original task. When senior executives were surveyed by the Center for Creative Leadership they reported that they were interrupted every 30 to 40 minutes.

The pattern is clear: Long stretches of focused work are rare in today's organizations.

Now compare that to what we know about peak performance. From the playing field to the stage to the board room, focus is the key to excelling. Every day, things arise over which you have no control, and it’s very easy to lose your focus during the day with emergency walk-ins, absent employees or equipment or technology breakdowns. If you don’t manage your energy, those interruptions in attention can derail you from what you had hoped to achieve that day.

Successful athletes, musicians and business executives realize that being focused and attentive is the key to gaining a sustainable competitive advantage. Learning to be at your very best as a powerful performer is maximized when you learn how to relax with what you do. When you relax the central nervous system, you release those emotional issues that often prevent you from being at your very best. You get into the state of “flow” or the “zone,” where you are fully present with your abilities and skills.

Most of us have experienced the physical effects that mental strain or stress can have on our bodies, or the euphoria of a really good day that makes every ache or pain go away. Managing your emotions is akin to managing your energy. It doesn’t matter how well you manage your time if you don’t have enough energy to focus on what you’re doing.

Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz are two senior partners at LGE Performance Systems. Their book, The Power of Full Engagement, aims to revolutionize the way we live our lives. Their focus is on managing energy rather than time. In turn this can improve performance, health, happiness and life balance.

  • The number of hours in a day is fixed, but the quantity and quality of energy available to us is not.
  • Energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance. Without the right quantity, quality, focus and force of energy, we are compromised in any activity we undertake.
  • Performance, health and happiness are grounded in the skillful management of energy. The more we take responsibility for the energy we bring to the world, the more empowered and productive we become.
  • We build emotional, mental and spiritual capacity in precisely the same way that we build physical capacity. We grow at all levels by expending energy beyond our ordinary limits and then recovering.
  • A positive ritual is a behavior that becomes automatic over time, fueled by some deeply held value.

The first step is a critical appraisal of how you spend your energy. Question your habits. How much of your energy are you spending foolishly?

Keep a time log for one week. Look at each work activity and assign an “energy number” that equates to the level of attention you give to it. For example, if you are an introvert, a new patient appointment could be a 1 (low) because you dislike it, even though it is highly important. On the other hand, you might rate patient charting, which is performed alone in the quietness of your office, as a 10 (high). You give that activity A LOT of energy even though it’s unlikely to bring you new business. Decide objectively how you are spending your energy, and compare that to what energy you should be allocating.

Prioritize your day by using the 80-20 Rule originally stated by the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. He noted that 80 percent of the reward comes from 20 percent of the effort. The trick to prioritizing is to isolate and identify that valuable 20 percent. Once identified, prioritize energy to concentrate your work on those items with the greatest reward.

Consider your biological clock and pay attention to your own energy level. Our bodies have more than 100 circadian rhythms. Each unique 24-hour cycle influences an aspect of functioning, including body temperature, hormone levels, heart rate, blood pressure—even pain thresholds. Understanding how these cycles interplay is fascinating. Pay attention to what time of day are you at your best. Are you a "morning person," a "night owl," or a late afternoon "whiz"? Knowing when your best time is and planning to use that energy slot for your greatest priorities is effective self-management for maximum productivity.

Over the next week, how efficiently will you allocate your energy?

If you want to get a higher rate of engagement in your practice, contact Dr. Haller at She will help you to make a more productive use of your energy.

Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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