Her World’s Young Woman Achiever Annabelle Kwok on how to be super efficient

by Annabelle Kwok  /   April 27, 2020

The founder of NeuralBay has a lesser-known strategy which is to manage energy instead of time


Today, young leaders are given more opportunities and put into high positions at a very young age. Greta Thunberg, Sanna Marin, or just look at the founders of the hottest unicorn start-ups around you! We belong to the world of technology, bringing in better and faster ways of getting things done. Period. 

But with so many things expected of us, how will we manage our checklist of to-dos without losing our sanity?

Now, think of life as a game where you have 24 hours to complete all the things you want or have to do. Like any game, it has rules and to win, you’d need a strategy. Yes, you heard me.

The most common strategy is maximising every second of the day because time is precious! Even if you secretly take pride in a packed schedule, it’s the cool thing to complain to your friends about how busy you are. Plan your time carefully as you’d arrange (and rearrange) items in your Google calendar, and scheduling a “tentative” lunch with a group of friends becomes a skill set. 

The lesser-known strategy (the one that I live by!) is to manage energy instead of time. Unlike time (limited resource) that isn’t reversible, you can recharge whenever you want.

To manage energy, you need to build up your awareness of what energises and de-energises you. For example, these could be people, activities, food, environments, or just thoughts. Then, start planning how to maximise or minimise contact, so you’re in more control over the external factors that influence your mood.

Note: It’d be good to have a bag of tricks that you can pull out when you need that instant hit of energy. Maybe something as simple as texting a friend, or measuring out a 100mg dosage of caffeine from powdered pre-workout mixes.  

The second thing is: Be okay with wasting time. Some of the best things that give you a top quality recharge stems from what society regards as highly “unproductive”, like long baths.

Now, telling Singaporeans that it’s okay to relax on weekdays is going to feel unnatural, but trust me, the quality of work you produce will more than make up for the loss of time bumming around.

When you create space for yourself, you’ll get a higher frequency and quality of eureka moments. With practice, you can get at least two or three “a-ha!” moments in a week (probably much more productive than an endlessly packed schedule).

Work smart. Trust that your subconscious is working for you even when you’re wasting time scrolling through photos of fluffy animals on Instagram.

In physics, power is calculated by dividing work done by time, but it can also be defined as the rate at which energy is used (the unit of measurement for power is joules per second). More often than not, we focus too much on the quantity of work done within 24 hours, and end up getting burnt out (here’s how not to crash and burn) by the end of the day.

Don’t worry, if any auntie asks you, “Why are you going out so often” or “sitting in front of your computer all the time”. Tell her: You’re not lazy, just super efficient! 

This story was first published on Her World’s April 2020 issue.

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