Energy thieves, productivity pilferers.

I remember sitting in the back row at a 7 habits workshop early in my career. I was looking at a Dilbert-like cartoon the facilitator was sharing. It was of a woman sitting behind a desk. There is a man standing in front of the desk looking panicked with a stack of files and loose papers in his hands. The clock on the wall behind the woman read 5 minutes before 5pm – almost quitting time. The woman is smiling and pointing to a sign on her desk that read:

“Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.”

Sure, we all chuckled when we read the cartoon, but the laughter soon turned to muttering as everyone in the room realized the truth. We were contributing to our own stress at work. Sometimes we were the one behind the desk and sometimes the one with the pile of papers. Either way we knew that sign she had was a laugh here in the room, but it didn’t work in the real world.

That was a turning point for my personal productivity. But that was a long time ago and much has changed….or so I thought.

Energy Thieves and Productivity Pilferers. #energyManagement #anywhereworker

This article is part 2 of the series

Energy Management and Engagement of the AnywhereWORKER

In Part 1 ( Your energy: more valuable than time) I challenged you to join me in observing energy levels productivity for a week or so. Now it’s time to see just what our actual habits show.

Although I found it difficult to keep up the observation after several days (an interesting discovery itself,) I was able to gather enough data points to discover a number of energy thieves.

I’ll share my findings as an example and to explore the next step which is to use this information to make a change toward more efficient energy management of your most valuable resource: you!

Observation Results

Over the course of two weeks, I observed my energy levels in a number of different categories: physical, mental, and emotional. I also noted my level of productivity and happiness. I did this at several points in the day (First thing in the morning, mid-morning, lunchtime, after lunch mid-afternoon, evening, before bed.)

  • Observation 1: I confirmed what I had suspected – that on normal days my energy levels in all categories are much higher in the first half of the day than the second.
  • Observation 2: I did not learn my lesson in that 7 habits workshop decades ago. I still allow other peoples’ lack of planning to impact my energy and productivity!
  • Observation 3: Without enough sleep, all three areas of energy (mental, physical, emotional) are depleted and effectiveness and engagement are impacted.
  • Observation 4: Not only did I see a daily energy pattern, but I observed a weekly pattern. Higher energy earlier in the week, less later.
  • Observation 5: I work seven days a week though not fully committed for all seven days.
  • Observation 6: When actual events do not match the expectations (either of myself or others) there is an energy drain emotionally.

There are of course many other observations in a number of areas, but you get the idea.


What energy thieves have you identified in your observations? What trends did you notice? What was a confirmation of what you suspected and what was a new discovery?

Many of the factors that can impact our energy at our mental, physical, and emotional levels include areas such as:

  • Nutrition
  • Scheduled periods of rest/change in focus
  • Responses to Unscheduled events
  • Management of Expectation
  • Philosophy: happiness creates productivity or productivity creates happiness.

Next we will explore strategies to help catch the energy thieves and optimize energy management.

Next read: Energy Management Strategies for Anywhere Workers