Working incessantly to achieve career success is frequently prioritised above mental health and personal obligations.
While balancing work and life might not be easy early in one’s career, figuring it out is necessary to lifelong satisfaction.
We’ve rounded up ways CEOs and other leaders find balance, stay sharp, stay happy, and don’t burn out.
'If you were to see my calendar, you'd probably notice a host of time slots greyed out but with no indication of what's going on. There is no problem with my Outlook or printer. The grey sections reflect 'buffers,' or time periods I've purposely kept clear of meetings.
'In aggregate, I schedule between 90 minutes and two hours of these buffers every day (broken down into 30- to 90-minute blocks). It's a system I developed over the last several years in response to a schedule that was becoming so jammed with back-to-back meetings that I had little time left to process what was going on around me or just think.
'... Above all else, the most important reason to schedule buffers is to just catch your breath. There is no faster way to feel as though your day is not your own, and that you are no longer in control, than scheduling meetings back to back from the minute you arrive at the office until the moment you leave. I've felt the effects of this and seen it with colleagues. Not only is it not fun to feel this way, it's not sustainable.'
'When you're facing an avalanche of appointments, book time to spend with your family -- put it in your work diary. You will also need to prepare your colleagues for those times when an emergency will come up at home and you'll need to drop everything to deal with it, because this is almost certain to happen.
'But rather than thinking of these two aspects of your life as antagonistic, why not combine them? As I've often said, I don't divide work and play: It's all living.'
'One of my favourite hacks is No Meeting Wednesdays, which we borrowed from Facebook. With very few exceptions, everyone's calendar is completely clear at least one day out of the week. Whether you are Maker or a Manager (http://www.paulgraham.com/makers...), this is an invaluable tool for ensuring you have some contiguous space to do project work. For me personally, it is often the one day each week I get to code.'
'My best life hack is actually the opposite of a shortcut and certainly doesn't save any time. It's pretty awesome, though, and makes me much happier and more productive in the long run: I don't work on aeroplanes.
'I sleep, I play Minecraft, I read (non-work stuff), I watch movies, I daydream. I don't work. It's great. Makes me look forward to that 13 hour flight to Japan! I work at every other time, though. Sure, I lose some productivity on aeroplanes, but getting rid of all the pre-flight dread more than makes up for it.'
'Meetings are a waste of time unless you are closing a deal. There are so many ways to communicate in real time or asynchronously that any meeting you actually sit for should have a duration and set outcome before you agree to go.'
'With the exception of one or two days a year, I work out every single day. Fitting a workout into the work day reduces stress, keeps you healthy, and is great for getting 'alone time' to work out business and personal problems. When someone asks for a non work-related meeting, see if they are up for doing the meeting while running or biking together. Work out at lunchtime and then eat at your desk.'
'One of my hacks is that every Wednesday is my work-from-home day, so if I'm not travelling in a given week, or even if I am travelling, I keep Wednesday open and that's the day that I can just think and get stuff done, so that's one big hack -- staying at home on Wednesdays.
'The other hack I have, I find that people work work work and don't think think think, and that the percentage of time people work versus think is off. I've tried to shift that, and I try to think lot and try to increase the amount of time I spend thinking about things versus on the phone or in a meeting or emailing people. So I see people working a lot and I say what's your time spent thinking versus working?'
'In today's 24/7 work culture, I believe the notion that business leaders need to be connected warriors every day of the year is mistaken. I am very connected 50 weeks of the year, but I try to completely disconnect for 2 weeks.
'I admit that the process of cutting off from email and the internet is frequently stressful in the beginning, but it quickly becomes a very liberating experience. Without a constant barrage of work issues to respond to, I find that my mind calms down and my intuition begins to come alive. I am able to see things through a more creative lens and new ideas often emerge from my 'time off'.'
'Morning people have long found that their first task of the day should be creation. Are you a morning person? Do your most important thing upon waking. If you're not a morning person, do it whenever you are at your best. When your energy is at its peak, it's time to create.
'Sure, creation time may not have the deadline that a 4:00 PM meeting does, but it is likely far more important to your long-term goals. Go ahead and schedule your creation time into your day. Block it off, guard it well, and do everything you can to keep others from encroaching upon it.'
Via LinkedIn, Hsieh's 'Yesterbox' email management system:
- If it can wait 48 hours without causing a problem, don't respond to any emails from today.
- Process (delete, reply to, or set a time to respond to) 10 emails from yesterday (even if they're hard or time consuming) before even looking at anything today. That keeps you from jumping straight to the easy ones.
- For any email that takes more than 10 minutes, set a time, just like a meeting, for when you're going to respond, allowing for the time you'll need.
- Set aside a recurring appointment/time of day for this process.
Via Lifehacker :
'I shave less frequently--to me, a little scruff is worth the time saved.
'... I've also started creating a weekly pie chart, outlining how I'd ideally like to spend my time that week. It's a good way of holding myself accountable for how I'm allocating my time, and this structure helps me tackle on items that need my immediate attention, while also setting aside time to plan and strategize for the future.'
Via interview with Business Insider:
'I probably travel about half the time and cover pretty significant distances because of the fact that we operate in 100 different countries ... You know, I'm someone who likes to get up early and exercise, to do something to clear my mind and I try to stay active.
'One of the things that's been great about this trip (to Dubai) is video-skyping with my family, and I had my son and my wife come out for a little while. You have to be creative and manage your schedule to be able to have and live some other interests.'
Via The New York Times--
'Finally, I'm trying to listen to my body. As hard as it is, I know that when I'm feeling sick or run down, I need to try to rest for a day. If something persists, hurts, looks weird, or just doesn't feel right, get it checked out. I know that sounds obvious, but so often we let things go. Now, I think about my friend who has skin cancer.
'My fiancé, Brad, and I have started getting up together at 5:30 in the morning to go on our 'workout dates.' I've started running and even participated in a few road races in Central Park. The difference in my energy level and the way that I feel has been incredible. Now, I'm only slightly tired from getting up early to run.'
'If you really unplug, you will start thinking about the long term, strategic issues, and what we have to do to be successful over the 9-to-24-month period, and that is essential.
'This got my attention. A true leader steps back, trusts his or her people, and allows them to succeed. By taking a break from the day-to-day operations, not only was I spending some much-needed time with my family, but also I was able to focus on the bigger picture of where we were and where our business was heading.'
'Part of being a winner is knowing when enough is enough. Sometimes you have to give up the fight and walk away, and move on to something that's more productive.
'I've learned that there's a big difference between perseverance and stubbornness. Stubbornness involves me forcing things to work, while perseverance requires me to work consistently with what's already working. Some of the best decisions I've made involved saying 'no' to a potential partnership or pulling the plug on a product that wasn't working.'
'One of my favourite mentors said to me that you have to learn to jettison the people and things out of your life that just don't matter and put 100 per cent of your energy into things that do have meaning to you. That was very liberating for me. I used to go to all these places because I couldn't say no. Now I pick and choose, and I say no very easily, because I know what's important to me. I only wish that I learned how to do that earlier in my life.'
Via The New York Times--
'I have spent several years now living a different version of my life, where I try to apply my energy to my new husband, Anthony, and the people whom I love and care about. But I can't make up for lost time.
'I didn't have to be on my BlackBerry from my first moment in the morning to my last moment at night. I didn't have to eat the majority of my meals at my desk. I didn't have to fly overnight to a meeting in Europe on my birthday. I now believe that I could have made it to a similar place with at least some better version of a personal life.'
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