A Concise Guide to Plugging Time and Energy Leaks

Posted in Balanced Lifestyle, Balanced Mind and Soul | January 24, 2012 |

Do you ever feel sapped of energy while trying to catch up with life as it moves at 90 miles an hour? Do you feel like no matter what you do, you’re always burdened with tasks and feeling sleep deprived? Time and energy “leaks” in your life may be the culprit.

Energy (a.k.a. your “will power”) and time are intimately related. When you deplete your energy, you reduce your ability to focus and thus accomplish the tasks in your life effectively. On the other hand, when you run out of time, you expend energy inefficiently as you try to rush through the things you need to do.

The energy and time “leaks” in your life consume your ability to get things done and feel fulfilled. These leaks exist in mental, physical, and emotional forms and they must be identified and “plugged” in order to become more productive. I, for example, suffered the following leaks: Feeling sluggish from sitting at my desk all day, reading and responding to mundane emails as they constantly stream in numbed my mind, and feeling bad about an argument I had with a coworker has been consuming my mind.

Leaks can be plugged by replacing thoughts and habits that suck energy and time with ones that make you more productive. Expanding upon the examples above, I plugged the leaks as follows:

  1. Interrupting myself from work every 45 minutes and doing stretches, walking around the block, and listening to empowering music to psych me out of boredom
  2. Limiting email-checking to only 2 times in the day so I’m not constantly bombarded with boring notes in my inbox
  3. Having a heart-to-heart conversation with my colleague to resolve the issue

Another form of leakage that deserves its own category due to its particularly insidious nature is multitasking. Multitasking has often been promoted as an indication of high efficiency, but both statistics and common sense would say otherwise. True multitasking is nearly impossible. What most people do is a variation of multitasking in which one switches quickly between tasks. It is estimated that multitasking can consume about 40% of your productive time (based on a study conducted in Psychology Today).

Let’s think about this from a common sense perspective: it takes time to switch between tasks, and furthermore, the constant switching means that you will never be able to fully focus on any one task. True efficiency comes from specificity. Think about how our bodies are designed- we have several organs that each serve a specific purpose. We don’t think with our large intestines or speak with our leg muscles!

I often found myself multitasking by doing things that seemed rather innocent: reading while watching TV, typing while talking to my sister over the phone, texting someone while doing research on the web, and browsing multiple sites simultaneously with tabs in my web browser. How do YOU currently multitask? Once you’ve identified these “leaks,” stop and select the highest priority task to do now, while completing the others one by one.

Consider how the leaks in your life currently add to imbalance and lack of energy and time to do what really matters for you. Most people are unaware of how these leaks affect them and only see the results. Now that you know what can be consuming your time and energy, start plugging those leaks by replacing the counterproductive habits and thoughts with ones that serve you in a positive way.

Kristoph Matthewsis an entrepreneur and scientist, whose mission in life is to turn ideas into reality and inspire others to do the same. Find him on his blog UnSwampedLife.com: Become a Master of Your Time and Live a Life of Freedom and Purpose.


Photo credit: joshuaporter.co.ukHow to

Smart Thoughts (12)

  1. IB says:

    Great article. I like the idea of energy leaks. Also consider unnecessarily energy consumption. Wasting “emotional” energy on unnecessary conflicts that should be ignored. Or worse, creating conflicts with others. The energy wasted on that conflict could have been used for something productive.

  2. Great post! It seems that so few people understand the concept of energy leaks. Most energy leaks are so subtle we hardly notice them.

    I used to be completely wiped out at the end of my day until I realized how much energy I consumed by stressing about all the things I wasn’t getting done. Instead, I slowed down and focused on accomplishing one thing at a time (no multi-tasking allowed) and being happy about what I accomplished. At the end of my new and improved day, I had more energy to be with my husband and kids.

  3. I hadn’t thought about the concept of energy leaks but the way you explain it – it makes perfect sense.
    Slowing down and focusing on one thing at a time is the key to productiveness – even though it sounds like you might not get as much done – you do. I used to multi-task but I always felt so overwhelmed. Now I give my complete attention to one thing only.
    Loved this post. Full of fabulous tips!
    Thank you Kristoph & Anastasiya.

    • Kristoph says:


      Thanks for the kind comments. Here’s to the end of multitasking! Isn’t it such a liberating and fulfilling feeling?


  4. Andrew Olson says:

    Hi Kristoph, thanks for this article, I think it’s a great reminder of an important topic: focus. When you learn to do one thing at a time with your full intention, life becomes much more enjoyable and you get more done. I like the connection between plugging the leaks in order to become more focused.

  5. wow – i do all those too – type while talking on the phone, watch tv while eating and flipping through a mag…. thanks for highlighting these little leaks!
    Noch Noch

  6. So guilty of the multi tasking thing. Thanks for bringing this one to my attention!

    Sleep… yes, it has been much better for me since I started going to bed earlier (excluding tonight… up way later because of a dinner party. Sometimes I want to say no to these so I can stay in my routine. But, I’m also trying to create balance as well.

    Again, mahalo for the ideas to keep my energy where it should be.

  7. Awesome post Kristoph!

    Back in my corporate workaholic days, I was able to reduce an 18 work day down to 8, AND become more productive in the process. It had a lot to do with plugging those energy leaks. I had to let go of perfectionism and the feeling that I was everyone’s safety net. I also started batching things like emails (people did NOT need to hear back from me within minutes), making myself unavailable to phone calls and interruptions while working on a task that needed a lot of concentration, etc. I was interrupted less, stopped multitasking and began prioritizing better. Also, I learned the fine art of letting things break (resources are often not made available until a server goes down at 3 a.m., LOL.)

    Now, I do the same thing. I batch my emails, twitter responses, blog post writing, etc. When I’m doing one thing, I won’t let another interrupt me. I work a lot, but I don’t feel overwhelmed most of the time. And, I take time off when I get tired. Because of the way I work, I’m usually ahead of schedule, so there’s no impact from taking a day or two off. :)

    Excellent article.
    Huge hugs,

    • Kristoph says:

      Melody- Congratulations! You hit on all the main points and you sound like you’re reaping the benefits of being free and “Un-swamped.”

      You mentioned becoming “less of a perfectionist.” This is often easier said than done for people- would you mind sharing with others how you went about it?


      • Hmmm. Tips on how I kicked perfectionism… I think I can do better than that. I’ll turn this into a blog post and link back here. I’ll come back and provide the link when I’ve posted it. Awesome idea! :o)


  8. Hi Kristoph,

    You brought up a good point about things consuming your mind. This happens to me frequently thought out the day. I try to schedule time in the day to deal with these time sucking thoughts.

    I also liked how you mentioned that multitasking is a time waster. Nobody is really good at this because we were not designed to do more than one thing at a time.

    Thanks for the friendly reminders.

  9. Rose Byrd says:

    You have just made me realize some new reasons why I am so very satisfied in my return to writing every day after 20+ years of hiding my creative self! At this point in my life, I have learned not to multi-task when pursuing my research and writing. I have learned to take reasonable physical breaks to prevent distraction from aching back, brain fatigue, etc. I now just need to work on the business of settling issues with others promptly that might otherwise interrupt my writing time. This article has been of great benefit in making me realize how many skills I picked up doing “geek” work that are now serving me well in my creative writing life. Now I can be thankful and unapologetic about those 20+ years away from writing!