Patton's Picks from the PMA Library: The Power of Full Engagement

May 2020

"The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal" By Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz 

If you're looking for book recommendations in the productivity and professional development genre, Patton offers a weekly summary of some of the essential and emerging titles from the PMA Library. 

Based on an athletic training concept, "The Power of Full Engagement" explains that only by taking breaks of equal and opposite magnitude to the work you put in can you truly maximize your time and energy. This book prepares readers to focus on their energy management, rather that their time management. Like athletes who train in order to perform with maximum energy when they most need to (and preserve energy when they don't), The Power of Full Engagement recognizes that we all need to maximize our rest time in order to succeed at any task and come back even stronger.

  1. Take breaks! Taking breaks can maximize performance, especially compared to sustaining high effort over an extended period of time. Like athletes who know that performing exhausting physical feats for long periods of time leads to burn out, the book illustrates how the same principle applies to daily life. If you intentionally take breaks during the day to let your mind reset, you maximize your energy for longer periods than you could by simply trying to force yourself through mental barriers. (Interested in a break methodology? Try the Pomodoro Method, a technique for structured work and taking breaks to maximize productivity.) 
  2. Make certain habits automatic so that you don't deplete your limited energy reserves. Each time you actively make decisions during the day, it depletes your willpower energy stored within you. After doing several difficult tasks that take significant willpower, you could run out entirely. Lock down certain life improvement tasks as AUTOMATIC habits so that they don't deplete stores of energy - which is used up every time you consciously make an active decision. You must figure out how to make them come to you unconsciously by forming routines that support your lifestyle and form long-lasting habits. (Interested in habit formation? Check out Charles Duhigg's The Power of Habit.)
  3. Align your values with your tasks so that actually completing them doesn't feel like such a chore. Once your motivations are in order (your values are identified), you can ensure your own motivation and effort, and it's easier to lock down habit formation over a period of 60 days. This is an exercise in figuring out what matters most to you - such as your family and your health - and determining how your day-to-day routines can maximize your time and energy on their behalf. Troublesome tasks become much easier when they are aligned with your values. (Like identifying your mission and values? Try Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.)

Jim Loehr is a world-renowned performance psychologist, Co-Founder of the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute, and author of 16 books including his most recent, The Only Way to Win. Tony Schwartz is an American journalist and business book author who ghostwrote Trump: The Art of the Deal.