Manage your energy

Jessica Matthysen, Head of Customer Success for Alexander Forbes Empower, says learning to manage not just her time, but also her energy was invaluable in helping her climb the corporate ladder. “We each have moments of heightened energy and awareness – our peaks – as well as moments when our bodies and minds need rest. Identify when you’re most productive for specific tasks. I know I’m best at creative writing when I’m preparing to sleep and at answering emails in the morning, but I’m on auto-pilot from 3-5pm. Knowing when I’m the best me means I can be more efficient.”

Change your habits, not yourself

“The trick to changing any habit is recognising that your identity – that elaborate mental framework you devised in your mind and labelled ‘me’– doesn’t actually exist,” says Mark Manson, an American self-help author, blogger and entrepreneur. “It’s arbitrary. It’s a façade – and it can be raised or dropped at will. You aren’t unproductive: you’re a person who currently chooses to do things that don’t feel useful. And changing that is as simple as changing your actions, one at a time. Forget about labelling it. The quickest way to change yourself is to realise that there’s no real self to change.”

Be mindful, not mindless

“Mindfulness is the process of actively noticing new things,” says Ellen Langer, a professor of psychology at Harvard University, USA, who’s renowned for her pioneering work in mindfulness theory. “When you do that, it puts you in the present. It makes you more sensitive to context and perspective. It’s the essence of engagement and it’s energy-begetting, not energy-consuming. The mistake most people make is assuming that it’s stressful and exhausting doing all this thinking. But what’s really stressful are all the mindless, negative evaluations we make and the worry that we’ll encounter problems and not be able to solve them.”