Manage your energy, not your time

Since I moved from Amsterdam to Haarlem at the end of last year, I often travel to Amsterdam by train. It only takes 15 minutes to Central Station and it saves me time and parking hassles. Last week I had this fascinating question written on the chair in front of me: 

Expat Life - efficiency based on time


My first wondering: is efficiency not based on time per definition?

Efficiency or effectiveness is the extent of use of resources in order to achieve a certain goal. These resources may for example relate to time, effort (person-hours), commodities or money.

The reason I probably wondered in the first place if efficiency was per definition based on time, is because in many occasions (in Dutch language at least) when we refer to things being efficient, we automatically refer to being time-efficient.

To be honest, this way of thinking is very little efficient 🙂

Time is a limited resource for each human being on this planet. However, by focussing on time-efficiency only, you can overlook the most important things in life. For example, taking care of a loved-one when she/he is ill. Do you worry about time? Or when you are making love? Does focussing on time make it any better?

Not to deny, time is a finite resource and a determining factor in many occasions. Expats know that better than anyone, I believe. Especially in the first few months in your new environment time is a precious resource. So many things to arrange, so little time.

In order to start enjoying your new life as an expat, it is indeed desirable that practical things are arranged in as little time as possible: time-efficient. Imagine you are about to move to Amsterdam, and you haven’t found a suitable house as yet. A time limit applies in such a situation and you will most probably not relax until you find one.

However, moving and settling into a new environment does not only require a lot of practical work, it also has a tremendous emotional impact. How to deal with that efficiently? Arranging a driving license or opening a bank account is tangible, this is not. The goal is not related to time. The goal is to set up your life in a fulfilling way. How much time that takes depends on many factors and is really not that interesting.

It is more interesting how you manage your energy. What recharges your batteries? How do you keep motivated? What is inspiring to you? Are your relationships still nurturing? Do you have a healthy body?

So for the practical hassles time-efficiency is key. For everything else, make sure you take your emphasis off time as well. Make space for things to happen, to emerge by themselves, to ask yourself the right questions.




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